Cairns to Normanton – Places to Visit
Eastern terminus of The Savannah Way and Savannahlander Train, with over 600 day tours on offer to the reef, rainforest and more. A wide range of accommodation is available. Cairns has been a tourist attraction for travellers for many decades now. Visitors come from far and wide to explore the only place on earth where two natural World Heritage listed sites – the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics Rainforests – exist side by side. The town itself sits between the Coral Sea, with the reef and its tropical islands just offshore, and the rainforest covered mountain ranges which extend south to Paluma (just outside of Townsville) and north to Cooktown. It has several beachside suburbs, including Palm Cove, which allows visitors to choose to stay in the city or by the sea.
Tours and experiences available from Cairns city include cultural, food & wine, adventure, leisure and family-friendly options. The local tourism authority’s website provides some examples for easy reference.
Cooktown and Cape York Peninsula to the north offer more adventures.
- Savannahlander Train Phone 07 4053 6848
- Gateway Discovery Information Centre: Phone 07 4051 3588
- Blackwater dump sites at various caravan parks
Visit the tourist markets and an authentic German Sausage cafe, plus some fun attractions and the spectacular Barron Falls. The historic Kuranda Scenic Rail and Skyrail rainforest cableway operate between here and Cairns/Caravonica, making it a popular day trip from Cairns.
- Kuranda Rainforest Accommodation Park Phone: 07 4093 7316
- Kuranda Information Centre: Phone: 07 4093 9311
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
Skyrail is the World’s Most Beautiful Rainforest Experience. A 7.5km cableway, Skyrail glides over the canopy of Australia’s World Heritage listed Tropical Rainforests. Red Peak and Barron Falls mid-stations provide the opportunity to explore and learn about this ancient environment on boardwalks and at the Rainforest Interpretation Centre. Visit www.skyrail.com.au.
Kuranda Scenic Rail
Experience spectacular scenery of the World Heritage listed Barron Gorge National Park aboard the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway. This unique railway experience from Cairns to Kuranda travels over tracks made by pioneers over 100 years ago. Upgrade to KSR Gold Class for that extra touch of luxury. Visit www.ksr.com.au for information, pricing, departures and bookings.
Julatten and Mount Molloy
A must-do region for bird watchers with transitional habitats supporting over 300 species. The nearby Bump Track is a great walk.
- Fine Feather Tours Phone: (07) 4094 1199
Agricultural town and hot air ballooning centre with nearby attractions including tropical fruit wineries and coffee growers open for tasting. Birdwatchers enjoy the Mareeba Wetlands. You’ll find fun local markets at one of the Tablelands towns each weekend. Check at Information Centres for the schedule.
- Mareeba Wetlands and Jabiru safari Lodge Phone: 1800 788 755
- Mareeba Country Caravan Park Phone: 07 4092 3281
- Riverside Caravan Park Phone: 07 4092 2309
- Tropical Caravan Park Phone: 07 4092 1158
- Warbird Adventure Flights Phone: 07 4092 7391
- Mareeba Heritage Museum Information Centre: Phone: 07 4092 5674
- Blackwater dump site on Doyle Street behind League Club
The Ootan/Chillagoe Alternative Route
Travel via Chillagoe for an additional experience with unsealed roads. A former mining centre, Chillagoe is renowned for its marble, Australia’s finest, and limestone caves that have regular tours. Check your map for access via Mareeba and Dimbulah to the east or on the Ootan Road to the south which rejoins The Savannah Way 13 km east of Mount Surprise. More remote adventure is available by taking the Burke Development Road through south west Cape York. You’ll need to be self-sufficient on this route as there are no public facilities between Normanton and Chillagoe.
- Chillagoe Mungana National Park
- Chillagoe Hub Information Centre: Phone 07 4094 7111
Mixed farming including dairy cattle and vegetables in an area dominated by volcanic geology. Drive up Halloran’s Hill for expansive views or the surroundings. Nearby Lake Tinaroo is a popular local camping spot. You’ll notice many signs marking the training camps for troops in World War 2 around the region. Local birdwatching sites including Hasties Swamp have a wide range of species.
- Wongabel State Forest
- Halloran’s Hill Conservation Park
- Hasties Swamp National Park
- Mount Hypipamee National Park
- Atherton Information Centre Phone: 07 4091 4222
- The Crystal Caves Phone: 07 4091 2365
- Mount Uncle Distillery Phone: 07 4086 8008
- Atherton Holiday Park Phone: 07 4091 1099
- Woodlands Tourist Park Phone: 07 4091 1407
- Halloran’s Leisure Park Phone: 07 4091 4144
- Blackwater dump site at sewage works
The Crystal Caves
The Crystal Caves covers 250m2 of fantasy grottos and tunnels housing an impressive display of minerals, rocks and gemstones from all over the world including an Amethyst Geode standing 3.5m high! With a helmet and a light you explore the museum unguided and touch and photograph what nature has created. Visit www.crystalcaves.com.au for more information.
Highest town in Queensland (930m) surrounded by Bed and Breakfast, farmstay and cottage accommodation. Renowned as a timber centre before World Heritage Listing Ravenshoe now has Queensland’s largest Wind Farm with over 20 windmills. The Information Centre has several fascinating displays. Be sure to take your camera to the region’s waterfalls and walking tracks. Bush camping is available at Archer Creek and Koombooloomba Dam. Heading west you’ll notice the change from rainforest to savannah environments.
- Millstream Falls National Park
- Tall Timbers Motel and Caravan Park Phone: 4097 6325
- Ravenshoe Information Centre: 07 4097 7700
- Blackwater dump site at sewage works, Ascham Street. Follow the signs.
Free camping site with toilets (council managed) and local markets second Sunday of the month. Innot Hot Springs. Soak in swimming pools filled by thermal springs for day use or stay in the Caravan Park.
- Innot Hot Springs Phone: 07 4097 0136
This mining town’s streets are named after the minerals that brought the region’s settlement.
Forty Mile Scrub National Park
A worthwhile stop to walk the short pathway through “dry rainforest” and take a break from the road. Toilets, no camping.
The Lynd Junction
91 kilometres south of the intersection of the Kennedy Highway and Gulf Development Road is the Lynd Junction. From here roads connect to Townsville, Charters Towers, Hughenden, as well as the Alternate Route of The Savannah Way, an unsealed road to Einsaleigh. Stop at the nearby Oasis Roadhouse for a drink at the smallest bar in Australia (1.2 metres).
- Oasis Roadhouse Phone: 07 4097 1900
The Oasis Roadhouse – Home to Australia’s Smallest Bar and Best Burgers! A real outback roadhouse with additional benefits, we are a hub for the local cattle stations as well as a major truck stop. The friendly locals make for a great introduction to the typical Australian Outback! As well as great atmosphere we offer fuel, single ensuite or budget rooms, powered and unpowered camp sites, home cooked meals, drinks, sweets, take away alcohol and ice. Open 7 days a week from 7am-9pm.
The world’s longest lava tubes are a “must see”. Camping, accommodation and tours are available at the Undara Lava Lodge, the only access point to the Undara Volcanic National park.
- Undara Lava Lodge Phone: 07 4097 1900
Undara Experience is situated on the edge of the Undara Volcanic National Park, 275km south-west of Cairns. Highly trained Savannah Guides conduct tours of the incredible lava tubes. Unique accommodation and homestyle meals available or experience Opera in the Outback and Outback Country Rock and Blues. Visit www.undara.com.au for more information.
Centre for semi-precious gemstones and alternative base for visiting Undara Lava Tubes. Gemstones are on display in town and you can try fossicking for topaz at nearby O’Brien’s Creek with a permit and some local advice. This is an overnight stop for the Savannahlander train.
- Mount Surprise Gems Phone: 07 4062 3055
- Bedrock Village Caravan Park Phone: 07 4062 3193
- Mt Surprise Tourist Van Park Phone: 07 4062 3153
- O’Brien’s Creek Camping Ground Phone: 07 4062 3001
- Blackwater dump site at roadside toilet block
Join our morning dig at the claim and allow our expert guides to assist you in unearthing gem materials. Browse through the shop see fine examples of gems and jewellery or relax and enjoy the tempting treats at the cafe. Visit www.thegemden.com.au for more information.
Einasleigh and Forsayth Alternative Route
Mostly unsealed loop roads travel through scenic country south of The Savannah Way to include several very worthwhile attractions. At Einasleigh Copperfield Gorge’s sheer walls drop into a sandy river bed revealing the lava flow layers, and the historic pub boasts an amazing collection of miniature antique furniture. Try fossicking at Agate Creek gemfields (licence required – ask at Information Centres en route) for the world’s most colourful agate. Cobbold Gorge is a favourite stop for many travellers with gorge cruises and walking tours. Forsayth is the Savannahlander train’s western terminus and the Goldfields Hotel has a marvellous collection of agates and thunder eggs.
At Gilberton Outback Retreat there is plenty to see and do. Enjoy abundant wildlife on a leisurely walk or a guided tour. Part of Gilberton is a Nature Refuge, which is recognised by the Queensland Government as being an area of high conservation significance.
- Cobbold Gorge Tours Phone: 07 4062 5470
- Flat Creek Station Phone: 07 4062 5304
- Gilberton Outback Retreat Phone: 07 44062 5329
- Einasleigh Hotel Phone: 07 4062 5222
- Copperfield Lodge Caravan Park, Einasleigh Phone: 07 4062 5102
- Forsayth Goldfields Hotel Phone: 07 4062 5374
- Forsayth Tourist Park and Store 07 4062 5324
Hidden deep in the heart the Gulf Savannah is an outback oasis – Cobbold Gorge. Cruise the gorge, explore ancient geological landforms and spot unique wildlife with our guided tours. Cabins and caravan/RV friendly camping. Pool, bar and coffee shop. Visit www.cobboldgorge.com.au for more information.
Flat Creek Station
Flat Creek is a family run beef cattle property. Your hosts are Peter & Adam. Flat Creek Station is a Brahman cross beef cattle grazing property of 30 000 acres, situated in the Gulf Savannah region of North Queensland, Australia, approximately 50 kilometres from Georgetown. Since the early 1900’s there has been gold prospecting activity on Flat Creek, guests come to the property to detect for gold. There is an array of native birds including the rare Gouldian finch. A Flat Creek Bird list is available on request at the homestead. Make Flat Creek your base to explore other attractions in the district such as Cobold Gorge, a short drive to the south. Visit www.flatcreekstation.com.au for more information.
Gilberton Outback Retreat
Time stops when you venture into the extraordinary land of Gilberton Outback Retreat. Experience the unexpected, and encounter a unique and genuine Australian outback experience that will stay with you forever. Spend your time doing as much or as little as you like at Gilberton Outback Retreat. Visit www.gilbertonoutbackretreat.com for more information.
An administrative and cattle centre for the Etheridge Shire with a history of gold, silver, copper, lead and tin mining throughout the district. Visit the incredible TerrEstrial Centre, a modern display of over 4,500 gemstones and minerals from around the world.
- Terrestrial Information Centre Phone: 07 4062 1485
- Latara Motel Phone: 07 4062 1190
- Wenaru Hotel Phone: 07 4062 1208
- Goldfields Caravan Park Phone: 07 4062 1269
- BP Service Station (repairs) Phone: 4062 1163
- Midway Caravan Park Phone: 07 4062 1219
Latara Motel is located in Georgetown in the heart of the Savannah Way. It is the perfect base to explore the surrounding area and unique attractions, such as the Cobbold Gorge, Talaroo Hot Mineral Springs, Undara Lava Tubes, Etheridge Shore Goldfields and the world class Ted Elliot Mineral Collection in our Terrestrial Information Centre. The Motel is spread over seven acres of natural bushland gardens and sweeping lawns, creating an oasis in the desert. Latara offers all modern conveniences including air conditioned rooms, guest laundry, saltwater swimming pool, BBQ area and fully licensed restaurant and bar open 7 days, catering for small groups through to large functions. So, whether you are planning your next holiday or passing through on business come and enjoy our country hospitality and meet our friendly team at Latara Motel. Visit www.georgetownaccommodation.com for more information.
Remains of a Cornish miners’ ore crushing plant. No camping or facilities. Birdwatching site.
Free camping area with rubbish pit, no toilet or showers.
Visit Croydon in the heart of the Gulf Savannah, on the Savannah Way, a town with a big history that started with the discovery of gold in 1885. Enjoy living history through interactive and static displays and by visiting the businesses still operating from the 1880’s.
A legendary town, with its historic precinct now restored to its goldrush glory. Take a self guided walking tour to relive the past. The Gulflander Train arrives Wednesday afternoon and returns to Normanton on Thursday. Lake Belmore is great for swimming and fishing, with free barbecues.
- Club Hotel Phone: 07 4745 6184
- Gulfgate Roadhouse Phone: 07 4745 6169
- Croydon General Store Phone: 07 4745 6163
- Croydon Gold Caravan Park Phone: 07 4745 6238
- Croydon True Blue Visitor Information Centre Phone: 07 4748 7152
Croydon Information Centre
Start your adventure at Croydon’s True Blue Visitor Information Centre. Our friendly staff can assist you with all your enquiries as you travel along the Savannah Way. Get your free copy of the “Incredible Croydon Walking Trail” which has a map to help you navigate your way around the town and all its attractions. The Visitor Information Centre also houses significant collections of heritage items, photographs, information displays, pioneer and descendant genealogy information, a renowned audio visual in a theatrette and an internet service. Visit www.croydon.qld.gov.au for more information.
Refreshment stop established in 1890 for the Gulflander Train.
Popular camping spot between May and October with fishing and wildlife.
- Leichhardt Lagoon Camping Park Phone: 07 4745 1330
A goldfields port that is now an administrative centre and home of the fantastic Gulflander Train, one of Australia’s great rail journeys. It departs Wednesday morning for Croydon, returning on Thursday. Other shorter trips operate through the week. Take an interesting Heritage Walk and have your photo taken with the replica of the biggest crocodile ever caught (8.63m), spend some time at the historic railway station and Burns Philp building and visit the three pubs that are the social centres of town. The Mutton Hole Wetlands are an internationally recognised birdwatching site, and there are many barramundi waiting to be caught in the Norman River. As The Savannah Way’s intersection with The Matilda Highway Normanton is an important hub on many journeys.
- Gulflander Train Phone: 07 4745 1307
- Normanton Visitor Information Centre Phone: 07 4745 1065
- Gulfland Motel and Caravan Park Phone: 07 4745 1290
- Normanton Pharmacy Phone: 07 4745 1399
- Normanton Traders Phone: 07 4745 1235
- Delta Downs Station Phone: 07 4745 3433
- Norman River Fishing and Cruises Phone: 07 4745 1347
- Normanton Gun Club Phone: 07 4745 1261
- Albion Hotel Phone: 07 4745 1218
- Purple Pub and Brolga Palms Motel Phone: 07 4745 1324
- Normanton Caravan Park Phone: 07 4745 1121
- Central Hotel Phone: 07 4745 1215
- Top Service Station (repairs) Phone: 08 4745 1261
- Blackwater Dump Site at Old Hospital Road (rear of Council Depot)
Carpentaria Shire Visitor Information Centre
There’s so much to do here on any budget. Just ask the locals! Normanton Visitor Information Centre & Library Cnr Landsborough & Caroline St, Normanton Phone: 07 4745 1065. Karumba Visitor Information Centre & Library Walker Street, Karumba Phone : 07 4745 9582. Visit www.carpentaria.qld.gov.au for information.
The Gulflander is the historic rail experience venturing from Normanton on the remote Gulf of Carpentaria to Croydon 140 km away. If you’re looking for an outback adventure with a real difference the Gulflander will provide you with one to remember. Visit www.gulflander.com.au for information, pricing, departures and bookings.
Gulfland Motel and Caravan Park
Gulfland Motel and Caravan Park is owner operated and renowned for quiet, friendly service. It comprises 28 air-conditioned motel rooms, 40 powered caravan and camping sites, licensed restaurant, off-street parking, swimming pool and laundry facilities. Visit www.gulflandmotel.com.au for information.
Newsagency / Gold Lotto, Fuel, LPG Gas and can also refill gas bottles. Normanton Traders has a wide range of groceries (FoodWorks). They are the ONLY Gold Lotto agent in the Gulf – the next agency is in Cairns or Cloncurry. Phone: 07 4745 1235 for information.
Delta Downs Station
The Kurtijar Tribe invite you to share our land and history on our Gulf cattle station, Delta Downs. It is over one million wild acres with pristine beaches and wetlands offering great Birdwatching, wildlife spotting and fishing. We offer 4WD tag-along tours and access to our remote coastal campsites. Visit www.deltadownsstation.com.au for information.
The prawn and barramundi fishing capital of Australia at the mouth of the Norman River was once a flying boat base. Visit the Barramundi Discovery Centre for a great insight into sustaining this industry. Try to time your visit for the Karumba Katch Seafood festival in October, and when in your tinnie please stay well clear of the ore carrying ships. Excellent birdwatching opportunities in the coastal and mangrove habitats. Choose from the Suave Bar or the Animal Bar when it’s time for a cold one.
- Karumba Visitor Information Centre and Library Phone: 07 4745 9582
- Ferryman Cruises Phone: 07 4745 9155
- Karumba Pharmacy Phone: 07 4745 9955
- Matilda’s End Holiday Units Phone: 07 4747 6500
- Barramundi Discovery Centre Phone: 07 4745 9359
- Croc and Crab Tours Phone: 07 4745 9009
- Karumba Golf Club Phone: 07 4745 9100
- Karumba Lodge Hotel Phone: 07 4745 9121
- Gulf Country Caravan Park Phone: 07 4745 9148
- Blackwater Dump Site at Allen Howie Way (Truck Stop)
At Karumba Pharmacy we offer a huge selection of products and reliable health advice. Pharmacists Cathy and Teresa with the assistance of Chris, Margaret, Mikaela and Keri provide friendly service and are here to help with all your health, wellness and beauty needs. Services include Pharmacist on Duty, Prescriptions, Baby Needs, Gifts, Diabetes advice, Blood Pressure Monitoring, Patient Medication Profiles, Medication Blister Packing, Wound Care and First Aid Advice, Medication Advice and Return Unwanted Medicines. Phone: 07 4745 9955 or visit www.karumbapharmacy.com.au for information.
Ferryman Cruises – Karumba’s leading tour operator established for more than 20 years. We are renown Australia wide for our wonderful service. With three vessels and well trained and attentive staff the Ferryman offer a variety of cruises: Sunset Cruises – with a comprehensive commentary, complimentary wine, beer, soft drinks, savoury nibbles, prawns and freshly sliced fruit platter; Fishing Charters include Morning or Afternoon Tea, all drinks and snacks; Night time Croc-Spotting including drinks, food and wildlife; Dedicated Bird Watching upon request with the shires leading experts and Group Functions – Lunch, Dinner and Parties. Tour Groups and Coach Companies are most welcome! Visit www.ferryman.net.au for information.
Visitor centre with some of the best sunsets in Queensland over the Gulf of Carpentaria. A mecca for recreational fishers with fishing charters and boat hire available and an interesting self-guided walk. The Sunset Tavern is popular at the end of the day.
- Ash’s Holiday Units and Cafe Phone: 07 4745 9132
- End of the Road Motel Phone: 07 4745 9599
- Kerry “D” Fishing Charters Phone 07 4745 9275
- Karumba Point Sunset Caravan Park Phone: 07 4745 9277
- Kathryn “M” Fishing Charters Phone 07 4745 9449
- Gee Dees Units and Boat Hire Phone: 07 4745 9433
- Jay Seas Holiday Units Phone: 07 4745 9414
- Savannah Shores Cabins Phone: 07 4745 9126
- Karumba Point Tourist Park Phone: 07 4745 9238
- Blackwater dump site at Sunset Caravan Park
End Of The Road Motel
Multi award winning End of the Road Motel situated on the beach front overlooking the spectacular Gulf of Carpentaria, where the outback meets the sea in style. The motel offers AAA 4 Star rating accommodation at Karumba Point. 21 fully self contained apartments including studio, one and two bedroom and beach front executive suites. Visit www.endoftheroadmotel.com.au for more information.
Ash’s Holiday Units
Ash’s Holiday Units has always been the popular choice with fishermen staying in Karumba. We’re just across the road from the beach, and only minutes away from the boat ramp. You can clean and fillet your prize catch at our fish cleaning area, storing it in our complimentary guest freezer, ready to take home and our spacious units feature a large undercover carport. You won’t ever run low on supplies, as Ash’s general store stocks a large range of bait, tackle and block and crushed ice. Visit www.ashsholidayunits.com.au for more information.
Kerry D Fishing Charters
For a great day out fishing in the Gulf of Carpentaria! Kerry D is a locally owned and operated family run fishing charter business in Karumba. We depart daily, offer half and full day all inclusive fishing trips suitable for all ages and novices to experienced fisherman. Your skipper, local owner Darryl, will take you out to get hooked on the many species that inhabit the gulf waters, from the mighty fighting Mackerel and King Salmon to the great Southern Gulf Barra. All fishing gear – quality bait, reels, rods and an assortment of tackle is included in your half or full day fishing expedition. Our boats are easy to board, fish all round and very comfortable to travel in. They have full shade canopy, toilet on board and are very stable vessels that are specifically designed for this area. So treat yourself and enjoy some time in the gulf on your trip. Visit www.kerrydfishing.com.au for more information.
Karumba Point Sunset Caravan Park
Karumba Point Sunset Caravan Park a delightful place to visit! Tropical plants, palms and trees provide a lovely environment in the park, which sits on the beach front right opposite the boat ramp. Accommodation includes powered caravan sites, powered and unpowered camp sites and ensuite Villas and Cabins. Showers, toilets and handicapped facilities are kept spotlessly clean. A shaded pool area, coin-operated laundry, campers’ kitchen, BBQs and an excellent fish cleaning area are available for our guests. Communication includes TV reception, Wifi, Public Phone and Telstra Mobile Coverage. Our well stocked kiosk is open daily from 7:30am to 5:00pm. Visit www.sunsetcp.com.au for more information.
Gulf Country Caravan Park
Free wifi and great accommodation options. Stay in studio units, Cabins or a three bedroom House, Powered and Unpowered sites. Camp kitchen and great, clean amenities and pool. A fisherman’s home with fish cleaning facilities, bait, ice and fresh seafood.Visit www.gulfcountrycaravanpark.com for more information.[/feature]
Gee-Dees Family Cabins
Fully self-contained cabins and boat hire to get you onto the water! Great location and affordable family style facilities to make your stay in Karumba special. Visit www.karumbaaccommodation.com.au for more information.
Sweers Island and Mornington Shire
Accessible by charter plane from Normanton or Burketown this is a favourite fishing retreat. Note that the island is subject to the Alcohol Management Plan of Mornington Shire, so no alcohol can be carried onto the island, which has its own bar and general supplies. For more information on Mornington Shire click here.
Sweers Island Resort
Classic fishing retreat in the Gulf of Carpentaria with reef, beach and open water fishing. Great food and a terrific atmosphere with keen fishermen. Visit www.sweers.com.au
Sweers Island Resort Phone: 07 4748 5544
The Savannah Way’s highlights west of Normanton are covered in our Katherine to Normanton section.