Top 10 adventures on the Savannah Way, outback Queensland

By AG STAFF 28 April 2021
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Leave the lush Wet Tropics rainforest of Cairns for the accessible outback where spectacular gorges, lava tubes and wildlife can be seen along the Savannah Way. Here are our top 10 picks.
  1. Green gives way to ochre
    Millstream Falls at Ravenshoe on the Atherton Tablelands is the last of the lush green scenery before you travel through cattle country to discover the vast outback of the Savannah Way on a 1300km drive from Cairns to Lawn Hill Gorge in Boodjamulla National Park.
Little Millstream Falls.

2. Lava tubes hide rainforest
Walk in the path of a volcano and sleep cocooned in an antique railway carriage at 

Undara Experience where the world’s longest lava tubes hide rainforest in the outback. Enjoy a sunset drink as the wildlife emerges including micro bats, wallabies and diverse birdlife. 

Undara lava tubes.

3. Ancient reef creates caves
Take a detour to Chillagoe to see an ancient coral reef that has been transformed into around 700 caves, some of which stretch for more than 10km. See the remnants of Chillagoe’s smelters which processed gold, silver and lead, visit the balancing rock and rock art galleries. 

Madonna Chamber.

4. Discover a young gorge 
Queensland’s youngest gorge can be seen from a stand-up paddle board or a silent electric boat gliding through the narrow sandstone walls. Join a tour walking to the top of the escarpment to see wildlife, discover the area’s geology and history, and cross the glass bridge spanning the gorge.

Cobbold Gorge.

5. Step back in time
Travel from the gemstone fields near Georgetown to step back in time at Croydon, a gold mining town from the 1800s, where historical buildings like the old hospital and police station are open for visitors to peek inside. The True Blue Visitor Information Centre documents the history of the Gulf Savannah region.


6. From crocs to trains
The mighty Norman River is known for its large saltwater crocodiles with the largest captured immortalised in a statue at Normanton. Visit the historic railway station and catch the historic Gulflander train travelling from nowhere to nowhere. Nearby is the most northerly camp of explorers Burke and Wills.

Norman River.

7. Seafood at sunset
Karumba is the outback town by the sea where you can watch the sun set over the water and enjoy Australia’s best prawns, mud crabs and barramundi. Visit the Les Wilson Barramundi Discovery Centre and Hatchery to hand feed the barramundi hatchlings and cruise the river to spot wildlife including birds and crocodiles.

Savannah Way sunset.

8. Sleep under the stars
The Savannah Way’s wide-open spaces are where you can camp under the stars alongside outback creeks, just as the pioneers did when they ventured west in search of gold. The waterways are a haven for birds like the brolga, while the rainbow-coloured Gouldian finch may be seen nearby in the trees and grasses.

Camping under the outback stars.

9. Connect with the Dreamtime
Visit the largest aggregate of saltpans in Australia at Burketown with the local Gandalidda people on Yagurli Tours. Hear their Dreamtime stories about the stars while looking through giant telescopes at the extraordinary night sky and learn about the Morning Glory Cloud, a rare meteorological phenomenon that rolls across the Gulf.

Yaliya Stories Stargazing Tour.

10. Paddle in an outback oasis
The emerald green waters of Lawn Hill Gorge and the palms that grow from its escarpments are a welcome oasis in Boodjamulla National Park. Canoe through Lawn Hill Gorge and hike around the escarpment before driving to the region’s third World Heritage area, the Riversleigh Fossil Fields, one of the most significant mammal fossil sites on earth.

Lawn Hill Gorge.

For more information visit Tropical North Queensland.