The Adventurous Cairns to Darwin Trip Via Savannah Way

Start: Cairns
End: Darwin
Estimated Travel Distance: 3,530.7 kms
Estimated Travel Period: 17 Days including Kakadu National Park


If you’re traveling from Queensland to the Northern Territory, there are so many places to see and things to do that you will want to be on the road for a long time. Make sure you give yourself at least two weeks or more to fully enjoy this itinerary on Australia’s Adventure Drive.

This is a great tour to do during the dry season, generally between May and October.  Check the weather and road conditions in Queensland and the Northern Territory before your journey.  Sections of the route are closed during the wet season (December to March) and access in April and May depends on the rain easing.

The route makes use of sealed and unsealed roads, so you’ll  need one of our awesome 4WDsor 4WD Campervans.


Day 1 – Cairns to Yungaburra (68kms, about 1 hour)

The first stop is into the Atherton Tablelands, with a great choice of the lovely towns to stay in.    Go for a swim in Lake Eacham or take a cruise at Lake Barrine, and sample the local produce like coffee and mango wine.

Days 2-3 – Undara Lava Tubes (225 kms, about 3 hours)

Head on to the Undara Volcanic National Park, where you can discover many natural wonders. Go birdwatching in the early mornings,  tour  the breathtaking lava tubes or see a spectacular bat emergence from the tubes at sunset.

Day 4 – Cobbold Gorge (237 kms, about 3 hours 20 mins)

Discover  this amazing sandstone  gorge on an ecocruise on a family cattle station.

Day 5 – Croydon (237 kms, about 3 hours)

Explore the historic town of Croydon, a living museum where gold was discovered in the late 1800s. Or drive on and go bush camping to meet the local birdlife at Leichhardt Lagoon.

Day 6 – Normanton and Karumba (225 kms, about 3 hours)

Take your time in visiting the historic Burns Philp Traders Building and jump aboard the historic Gulflander Train in Normanton and try your luck at catching barramundi in Karumba.

Day 7 – Burketown (292 kms, about 4 hours)

Can’t get enough fishing? Burketown has plenty of fishing holes and you can even join the annual Barramundi Fishing Competition held every Easter.

Day 8 and 9 – Boodjamulla National Park (214 kms, about 3 hours)

There are just so many things to do here that you’ll want to stay for at least two days.  Canoe the majestic gorge and discover fossils at Riversleigh World heritage site.

Day 10 – 4WD and Bush Camping (391 kms, about 6 hours)

Welcome to the Northern Territory! Your most adventurous driving day will take you to a remote bush camp at Robinson River Crossing.. Alternatively you can stay at the Aboriginal owned Seven Emu Station, about another 80km.

Day 11 – King Ash Bay (153 kms, about 2 hours)

Stock up in the frontier outpost of Borroloola, and head to another fishing hot spot, King Ash Bay.

Day 12 – Daly Waters (426 kms, about 5 hours)

Sealed roads from Borroloola onwards. Visit Caranbirini Conservation Reserve’s walking trails and  or helicopter over the “lost cities” in Limmen National Park before a rewarding cold one at the Daly Waters Pub. Those seeking more unsealed adventure can travel to Lorella Springs for a night and Roper Bar to Mataranka (588km, about 9 hours).

Day 13 – Katherine (276 kms, about 3 hours)

Travel to Mataranka and stop for a refreshing swim at Bitter Springs before heading to Katherine where you can stay in town or at Nitmiluk National Park beside the mighty Katherine Gorge.

 Day 14 – Katherine

Go canoeing on Katherine Gorge, and make friends with the wildlife at Nitmiluk National Park on scenic walking tracks. Go for a refreshing swim at Edith Falls.

Day 15 – Kakadu Gunlom Campground (196 kms, about 2 hours 30 mins)

Tour Kakadu National Park from  the southern end, where you can go swimming at the amazing Gunlom Falls or follow the signs to Yurmikmik walks to explore the diverse rock formations.

Day 16 – Kakadu Jim Jim Campground ( 151 kms, about 2 hours 30 mins)

Explore Maguk Find a great campsite in Jim Jim before setting out for a tour of Maguk Gorge. See amazing Aboriginal artwork  at Nourlangie Rock and Ubirr.

Day 17 – Arrive in Darwin! (319 kms, about 4 hours)

The adventure doesn’t end here. Watch the sunset in Charles Darwin National Park or just enjoy a nice warm evening in one of the many accommodation options in Darwin.


More Inspiration

8 Top Things to Do in Croydon

8 Top Things to Do in Croydon

Croydon, in the heart of the Gulf Savannah has a lot to offer. When you come to Croydon you will feel part of the outback and its relaxing lifestyle. Make Croydon Your Own Adventure!!!  1. Spectacular Sunsets With views that go on forever, Croydon have many excellent...

Croydon, the Heritage Capital of the Gulf

Croydon, the Heritage Capital of the Gulf

  Considered the Heritage Capital of the Gulf, Croydon has a rich history which started with the discovery of Gold in 1885 and led to the development of a rich, booming gold mining town. In its heyday, it was the third largest town in northern Queensland and...

Chillagoe Alternate Route

Chillagoe Alternate Route

  Chillagoe is on an Alternate Route of the Savannah Way and well worth a detour. The full 4WD Alternate Route runs from the Savannah Way near Mount Surprise along the Ootan Road following the Savannahlander tracks to Almaden, then on a remote loop to Normanton...

Fishing & Boating

Fishing & Boating

Fishing is great fun and locals will help with advice regarding bait and the best spots (or maybe the second best spots!) to go. Remember that saltwater crocodiles inhabit many of the Gulf Savannah’s waterways, so stay back from the water’s edge, avoid repetitive...

A Mataranka Adventure

A Mataranka Adventure

Cape Crawford through Roper Bar to Mataranka (unsealed route) This is remote 4WD country with some spectacular spots. As with many sections on the Savannah Way, plan your fuel stops with hundreds of kilometres between roadhouses. The road can be slow depending on how...

Responsible Travel on The Savannah Way

Responsible Travel on The Savannah Way

Take care of our native animals Don’t feed any animals in the wild and don’t attempt to touch them either.  Animals thrive when they’re left to their own devices, instincts and natural environment. Use your camera zoom, keep your distance and avoid noise pollution and...