Ultimate Outback Adventure on the Savannah Way: Cairns to Broome

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There’s nothing quite like a self-drive journey along the Savannah Way, Australia’s ultimate adventure trail stretching from Tropical North Queensland to the Kimberley in Western Australia. This expansive route offers an unbeatable blend of breathtaking landscapes, rich Aboriginal heritage, charming outback towns, and an incredible variety of unique wildlife.

Here’s a 31-day itinerary that will give you the best of this beautiful adventure. It must be noted however, we have only provided a rough mud map for a one-way journey! How you get back to where you want to go is a mystery yet to be resolved!

Please note that the journey times are rough estimates only and it is likely that with stops along the way that times will spin out. Always check road conditions, ensure that your vehicle is in top condition and that you are carrying a decent water supply, fuel, food and medical supplies. It can get extremely hot and during storms road conditions can deteriorate rapidly. Use common sense and plan ahead. Check out out our article 10 tips for Safe Outback Driving.

Day 1-3: Cairns

Start your journey in Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. This vibrant city offers a picturesque marina, bustling markets, trendy cafes, and world-class seafood restaurants. Don’t miss a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef, where you can snorkel or dive among vibrant corals and tropical fish.

Waves-IV-Opal-Reef
Visit The Great Barrier Reef from Cairns

Day 4-6: Atherton Tablelands (87 km, 1.5 hours)

Drive to the Atherton Tablelands, a fertile plateau with stunning rainforest, waterfall circuit, volcanic craters, and lakes. Visit the Curtain Fig Tree, explore Lake Eacham, and immerse yourself in the history of the region at the Herberton Historic Village. Enjoy locally grown produce and sip locally made coffee, cheese, and wine.

Atherton-Tablelands_landscape
Atherton Tablelands

Day 7-8: Undara Volcanic National Park (220 km, 3 hours)

Journey to Undara Volcanic National Park, home to the world’s longest lava tube system. Marvel at the remarkable geological formations, take guided tours through the tubes, and enjoy the rich biodiversity, including several bat species. Don’t miss the chance to sleep in converted railway carriages and stargaze in the uninterrupted Outback night sky. Read more

UndaraNP_lava_tubes
Undara Volcanic National Park Lava Tubes

Day 9-11: Georgetown and Croydon (387 km, 5 hours)

Drive west to Georgetown and Croydon. In Georgetown, visit the Terrestrial Centre, housing one of Australia’s largest gem and mineral collections. Croydon offers a glance into the past, with beautifully preserved buildings from the gold rush era. Visit the True Blue Interactive Information Centre for historical insights and stories.

terrestrial_centre_georgetown
The Terrestrial Centre

Day 12-14: Normanton and Karumba (384 km, 5 hours)

Head to Normanton, famous for its Purple Pub and the life-sized replica of a giant saltwater crocodile, Krys. Continue to Karumba on the Gulf of Carpentaria, famous for fishing (especially Barramundi) and birdwatching. Take a boat tour for a spectacular sunset over the Gulf and watch for wildlife, including saltwater crocodiles.

the-purple-pub-normanton
Yes, there really is a purple pub in Normanton!

Day 15-17: Lawn Hill Gorge (567 km, 7 hours)

Journey to Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park, a lush oasis with a sandstone gorge, cascading waterfalls, and abundant wildlife. The gorge is perfect for canoeing, or take a hike to the Indarri Falls for a refreshing swim. Don’t forget to visit the World Heritage-listed Riversleigh Fossil Sites nearby.

indarri_falls
Stop for a swim at Indarri Falls

Day 18-19: Hells Gate and Borroloola (570 km, 8 hours)

Travel to Hells Gate, a roadhouse marking the border between Queensland and the Northern Territory. Refuel and learn about the region’s early explorers. Continue to Borroloola, where the Gulf of Carpentaria meets the Outback. Visit the Borroloola Police Station Museum, displaying Aboriginal artefacts and pioneer mementos.

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Old Police Station Museum

Day 20-21: Roper Bar to Mataranka (443 km, 6 hours)

Cross the historic Roper Bar crossing, where the Overland Telegraph line crosses the Roper River. The area is an excellent spot for fishing. Reach Mataranka, famous for its thermal pools. The warm, crystal-clear water surrounded by palm forest is a perfect place to relax after a long drive.

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Take a dip in the Mataranka Hot Springs- we did!

Day 22-23: Katherine (166 km, 2 hours)

Journey to Katherine, where the Outback meets the tropics. Visit Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park, a network of 13 gorges carved by the Katherine River. Cruise, canoe, or hike to experience stunning cliffs, sandy beaches, and rock art sites. Visit the town’s galleries to appreciate local Aboriginal art. Read more about Katherine

Katherine Gorge
Nitmiluk Katherine Gorge

Day 24-25: Kununurra (515 km, 6 hours)

Cross into Western Australia to the town of Kununurra, nestled among the scenic hills and ranges of the East Kimberley. Tour the Ord River Irrigation Scheme or the Argyle Diamond Mine. Nearby is Mirima National Park, with sandstone ranges resembling a mini Bungle Bungles.

Mirima_National_Park
Mirima National Park Hidden Valley

Day 26-27: Purnululu National Park (302 km, 4 hours)

Reach the striking Bungle Bungle Range in Purnululu National Park. Explore the famous black and orange striped domes, hike the Piccaninny Creek walk, and visit Cathedral Gorge with its natural amphitheatre. A scenic flight offers a stunning perspective of the park.

purnululu_national_park_sean_scott_photography
Purnululu National Park. Crdit Sean Scott Photography

Day 28-29: Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing (645 km, 8 hours)

Visit Halls Creek, a gold rush town with a rich history. Near the town is the China Wall, a natural quartz formation. Continue to Fitzroy Crossing, the gateway to the Geikie Gorge National Park. Take a boat tour to see the gorge’s weathered cliffs and abundant wildlife.

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Fitzroy Crossing

Day 30: Derby (260 km, 3.5 hours)

Stop in Derby, known for its Boab Prison Tree, a large hollow tree thought to be 1500 years old, and Wharfinger’s House Museum. Visit the Derby Jetty, where you can witness the extreme tidal movements.

boab_prison_tree
Boab Prison Tree

Day 31: Broome (221 km, 3 hours)

Finish your journey in the multicultural pearl town of Broome. Enjoy a sunset camel ride along Cable Beach’s 22 kilometres of sun-kissed white sand, visit the Japanese Cemetery, or explore the pearl luggers in Chinatown. Don’t miss a film at Sun Pictures, the world’s oldest picture garden.

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Cable Beach Broome Western Australia

This comprehensive 31-day itinerary provides an immersive experience of the stunning landscapes, rich culture, and diverse wildlife along the Savannah Way. Enjoy the journey!

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