THINGS TO SEE AND DO ON THE SAVANNAH WAY, QUEENSLAND

We originally thought we’d take a few days to drive The Savannah Way in North Queensland – and it would just be a few days of transit driving, stopping only for food and sleep. Outback Queensland continues to surprise us with so much more than just the Great Barrier Reef. The Savannah Gulf region is a dry and barren side, yet on closer look, a thriving one. The Savannah Way Drive – Queensland, Australia It’s worth spending a few minutes stopping at one of the many wide, dry river banks and contemplating what it must look like during the wet season when it’s completely full of water – and then some. Imagining that water breaking the banks and rising up like the 1974 floods. It will blow your mind. You just can’t imagine how it can go from bone dry to flooding with enough water to provide the needs of Australia and then some. But that is this amazing Gulf country in northern Australia. The Savannah Way Drive We were kind of chuffed to be travelling along The Savannah Way with our own little Savannah. We named her Savannah for two reasons: because we love the city in America, and because we love the African Savannah – a wild place. Now she gets to meet her namesake in Australia, except this Savannah is filled with kangaroos and emus instead of man-eating lions. There’s plenty of things here that will kill you though from snakes, to crocodiles, and poisonous plants, so keep your wits about yourself. AD The Savannah Way is the ultimate road trip in Australia, stretching from Cairns in Queensland to Broome in Western Australia. That’s from East to West for those who don’t know, taking in a whopping 3,700 km. The Savannah Way – Queensland, Australia The majority of the svannah Way is sealed road, but there are sections that turn to gravel and plenty of tributaries offering that wild off-road driving experience. Our Ford Territory is an all-wheel-drive and not built for the hard-core 4wd section so we took the alternative routes. AD Cairns to the Northern Territory Border Below is our suggested guide and places to visit along the Queensland section of the drive from Cairns to the Northern Territory border. Just reverse it if you’re coming from the opposite direction. The Atherton Tablelands Millaa Milla Falls Millaa Milla Falls AD We stayed for two nights in Atherton, and depending on your interests this is enough time to see the highlights. It’s a beautiful region that varies from agricultural farmlands, to ancient rainforest with stunning waterfalls and scrub land. For a list of highlights check out our post Things to do in the Atherton Tablelands. Curtain Figg Tree, Atherton Tablelands, Queensland, Australia Curtain Figg Tree, Atherton Tablelands AD Places to stop on the drive from Atherton to Undara Lava Tubes Ravenshoe is the highest town in Queensland and worth a pit stop if having a drink in Queensland’s highest pub is your thing. Otherwise, there’s not much else to see, Stop in at the Innot Hot Springs. Don’t expect to see any springs on a grand scale like Rotorua in New Zealand. It’s actually more of a small puddle, lol. But, it’s nice for sitting and really hot. AD Undara Lava Tubes Undara National Park – Queensland, Australia AD What a fascinating discovery Undara was! Here you will find the world’s longest lava tubes a phenomena I knew nothing about until coming here. Plan to spend two nights so you can make the most out of what’s on offer. Do the Archway Explorer Tour and have a bush brekkie. You can set up your caravan or camper trailer, or how about sleeping in an old railway carriage. Read more – Visiting the Undara Lava Tubes Undara Lava Tubes, Queensland, Australia Exploring the Undara Lava Tubes AD Undara 007 Drive from Undara to Cobbold Gorge Stop at Mt Surprise along the way. Grab a burger – like they used to be before they were ruined – at the BP cafe. Fuel up at Georgetown before taking the unsealed 80km road to Cobbold. Pulling our Jayco Camper Trailer took us about 90 minutes for this section. AD The drive to Cobbold Gorge – Quuensland, Australia AD The scenery is true outback gorgeousness with the red dirt, blue skies, huge termite mounds and scrub trees. I’d so love to see it in the wet when the greenery comes out. Cobbold Gorge Cobbold Gorge – Quuensland, Australia AD Yet another special place on the Savannah Gulf. We stayed at Cobbold Gorge for one night, you might like to rest a while – it’s peaceful enough with plenty to keep you entertained, and the infinity pool has amazing views. The only way to explore this narrow gorge is on a three-hour tour, which takes you on a boat trip through the gorge and a short walk up the escarpment. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about the area and the Savannah Gulf and so passionate about it. It was easy to fall in love with it too. She shared many stories about the flora and fauna, took us to some beautiful view points and told stories about the early settlers and the mysterious death of pioneer John Corbett. Cobbold Gorge – Quuensland, Australia AD Cobbold Gorge – Quuensland, Australia AD Cobbold Gorge – Quuensland, Australia AD Cobbold Gorge – Quuensland, Australia Drive to Normanton There’s not much in between here and Normanton so be prepared for a drive of about 4 1/2 hours. We arrived in the afternoon and stayed for a night at the Albion Hotel so we could arrive early in the morning for our Gulflander experience. Don’t expect too much comfort here but the barra & chips for dinner in the pub restaurant was enjoyable. AD Normanton town is basically a refueling stop, although you can stick your head inside a replica of one of the largest crocs ever caught, Krys the croc, who measured a whopping 8.5 metres. Krys the croc – Normanton, Queensland, Australia AD The Gulflander Experience The Gulflander – Queensland, Australia AD Train enthusiasts will love this experience on the historic and legendary Gulflander. Originally built to connect the once bustling river port of Normanton with the rich gold fields of Croydon, today the Gulflander is a tourism icon and working tribute to the early pioneers of the Gulf of Carpentaria. We experienced the “Billy tea and damper” excursion to Critters Camp located at the picturesque 11-mile camp. The three-hour journey is filled with anecdotes, facts, fascinating trivia and information about the history of the Gulflander, the Savannah Gulf landscape and it’s rich past. It was one of the best billy and damper teas I’ve experienced on this road trip so far. Cost: $61 adult $37 child AD The Gulflander – Queensland, Australia Damper and scones on the Gulflander trip AD Karumba If you love fishing or stunning sunsets then Karumba, only an hour’s drive from Normanton, is worth a visit. It’s a very chilled beach town, but remember no swimming in the beach here – this is croc territory! Grab a drink, and some takeaway fish and chips from Ash’s across the road and sit on the beach and watch the sky light up in flames as it goes down. There’s also a sunset tavern should you wish for tables and chairs and a more formal dinner. Sunset in Karumba – Queensland, Australia AD Sunset in Karumba – Queensland, Australia AD Pub at Karumba – Queensland, Australia AD We stayed in a unit at Ash’s on the Point for two nights. Sunset Caravan Park is just down the road. Fishing is the thing to do here and many people get stuck here for months spending their mornings bringing in the catch for the day – or perhaps for the week. Like our friend Emma who returned with six blue salmon and a beaming smile. Drive from Karumba to Gregory River There are two ways you can go here. The unsealed road via Burketown, or the sealed road via the Burke and Wills Roadhouse. We found the Burke and Wills disappointing and just a fuel stop and a place to stretch the legs and grab a quick bite to eat. AD Burke and Wills Roadhouse – Queensland AD The drive on the sealed road takes about four and a half hours and takes you through pretty outback scenery. This was the first time we’d seen emus in the wild and the Big Red kangaroos.