The Savannah Way is one of Australia's ultimate adventure drives,
traversing the top end of Australia and linking Cairns in Tropical
North Queensland with the historic pearling town of Broome in Western
Australia, via the natural wonders of Australia's far north. Some
sections of the road are suitable for 4-wheel drive vehicles only, but
others are sealed, making it possible for anyone with a motor vehicle
to complete sections of the drive.
The journey is rich with natural wonders, passing through an
amazingly diverse and spectacular landscape of wide horizons, ancient
gorges, rock pools, hot springs, and abundant wildlife as well as the
endless horizons of the Gulf Savannah and the Northern Territory after
which the drive is named.
The route follows a sealed bitumen road on two of its three main
sections - between Cairns, Qld and Normanton, Qld, and between Ngukurr,
NT and Broome, WA. The road between Normanton and Ngukurr is unsealed
and its condition varies with the time of year. On unsealed roads, fine
dust can conceal deep potholes and dust reduces visibility. Staying in
contact in the outback is vital. While mobile phones will work in many
towns, staying in contact by radio, satellite phone or carrying an
Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) is advisable. Always
check road conditions prior to travel.
Location: Cairns, Qld to Broome, WA, via Katherine, NT
Length: 3,501 km
Suggested return journey: can be driven clockwise or counter
clockwise, and is often completed as part of a round-Australia trek in
Features/attractions: Atherton Tableland; Undara Lava Tubes; Gregory
Ranges; Qld Channel Country; Normanton; Lawn Hill National Park;
Riversleigh fossil site; Hells Gate; Borroloola; Roper Valley; tip of
western Arnhem Land; Mataranka Hot Springs; Katherine Gorge; Timber
Creek; Kununurra; Halls Creek; Bungle Bungle Ranges; Geikie Gorge;
Windjana Gorge; Tunnel Creek; Broome.
Minimum duration (one way): total travelling time is around 48
hours in the dry season, so allow a minimum of 5 days to travel from
one end to the other.
What You Will See
Travelling from east to west, the Savannah Way begins at Cairns,
passing through the Atherton Tableland before reaching the Undara Lava
Tubes. The drive continues west along the Gulf Developmental Road,
through treeless plains of Mitchell grass to Georgetown (gemstone
fossicking), Gilbert River, Croydon (old gold mining town) and on to
Normanton and Karumba on the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The drive then follows the line of the coast, passing the turn-offs
to the hidden gorges of Lawn Hill and the fossils at Riversleigh,
before reaching Hells Gate Roadhouse, gateway to the Macassan coast,
just 50km east of the Northern Territory Border. Rich in flora and
fauna this region boasts one of the world's oldest landscapes including
the spectacular eastern escarpments of the Barkly Tableland and the
rugged beauty of the Gulf of Carpentaria's flood plains.