Kununurra to Burketown via Katherine#savannahway
Northern Territory | The Savannah Way
Overview Kununurra to Burketown, via Katherine
THE TOP END
The Savannah Way traverses Territory highlights including tiny townships, cattle stations, natural springs and waterholes, roadside campsites, fishing hot spots and beautiful national parks.
Slicing through the northern tip of the Territory, it passes through the Territory outback towns of Timber Creek, Katherine, Mataranka, Daly Waters, Borroloola and Roper Bar to either Queensland or Western Australia.
Ideally, 15 days is needed to truly experience the Northern Territory. This 7 day suggested itinerary should be used as a guide only and consider extending the length of stay in each region.
Western Australia / Northern Territory Border
It’s important to know the quarantine rules in advance to save over-shopping or unpacking the whole vehicle!
- Heading into Western Austrlia you cannot bring fresh fruit or vegetables (or some dried / frozen), plants, flowers, seeds, walnuts, honey, any soil, animal skins or wool. Many animals and birds require permits. The Inspection Station at the border will confiscate any prohibited items. For more information contact Quarantine WA on 08 9334 1800.
- Heading into the Northern Territory there are no restrictions.
7 Day Itinerary: Kununurra to Burketown via Katherine – 1,712 klms
Day 1 – Kununurra to Timber Creek
Travelling via National Highway 1 from Kununurra, Timber Creek is a major stopping point roughly halfway between Katherine and Kununurra. It is situated on the doorstep of Gregory National Park in the Katherine region and well regarded as a traveller’s oasis.
Timber Creek is the traditional land of the Ngaliwurra Aboriginal people, who provided early European settlers with valuable bush knowledge and acted as guides for the local police. A police station was first established in Timber Creek in 1898. Initially just a hut and a goat yard, the dwellings were upgraded to iron and steel in 1908 and this structure has been reopened as the Timber Creek Police Station Museum.
Fishing is one of Timber Creek’s biggest drawcards, with the beautiful Victoria River, running through deep valleys and gorges, is one of the Northern Territory’s most scenic places to catch barramundi. Gregory National Park is Timber Creek’s backyard, covering an area of approximately 13,000 square kilometres, the Park is home to red-rimmed escarpment ranges, plunging gorges and ancient boab trees.
Day 2 – Timber Creek to Katherine
Katherine is a bustling regional tourist town and pastoral service hub 310 klms south of Darwin. It is the 3rd largest town in the Northern Territory.
You will need a couple of days to truly experience the Katherine region where you will discover spectacular gorges, misty waterfalls, thermal springs and ancient cultures.
First stop is the Katherine Visitor Centre, open 7 days a week to help you make the most of your outback adventure.
Katherine Hot Springs is located just 2 klms from the Katherine central business district, a short turn off from the Vistoria Highway. Relax and swim through the clear water surrounded by pandanus trees.
Day 3 – Katherine Gorge
30 klms north-east of Katherine
Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge) brings life to the region through a series of waterways, ancient rock art sites and a wide diversity of local wildlife.
Nitmiluk National Park covers a vast area, including 13 impressive gorges carved from the ancient sandstone country which stretch for as far as the eye can see.
Experience spectacular views by taking the Baruwei Loop and stop at the Baruwei Lookout to witness a breathtaking taking view of the gorge.
Camping is available within the National Park.
Day 4 – Katherine to Mataranka
The small town of Mataranka, south of Katherine, is renowned for its sandy-bottomed thermal pool, pastoral history and as a welcomed stop with tourers. The classic Australian novel “We of the Never Never” by Jeannie Gunn (1908) tells the story of a pioneer woman’s life here, still represented by the replica homestead and cemetery
Browse the Stockyard Gallery’s exhibit of local Aboriginal art from the Mataranka and Roper River areas.
Mataranka hot springs located in Elsey National Park provide the perfect place for visitors to unwind and soak up the mesmerising scenery. The thermal pool is one of the biggest draws in the region, as it promises the chance to kick back and relax with incredible views. The warm water is thought to soothe any ailments, and the natural scenery is extremely peaceful. Close to the Roper River, the pool can sometimes get crowded, especially at busier times of the year, but there is plenty of room for everyone to enjoy the natural wonder. The pool itself is filled with fresh spring water from the Daly and Georgina basins, and it maintains a consistent temperature of 34 degrees.
Non-powered campsites are available at Jalmurark campground. Camp fees apply and are payable on-site.
Day 5 – Mataranka to Cape Crawford via Daly Waters
445 klms sealed route
Travel south from Katherine on the Stuart Highway through Larrimah to turn east at Daly Waters.
Larrimah became a town in 1940, and the war history is told in the pub, museum and by exploring nearby Gorrie Airfield.
Daly Waters is an historic droving stop and Overland Telegraph Station. The pub is a visitor icon with camping and rooms, and on the outskirts of town is Australia’s first international airfield, also used to help evacuate Indonesian citizens in World War Two.
There are roadside overnight camping bays along the Daly Waters to Cape Crawford section, which is all sealed, single lane development road.
Alternate Route – Mataranka to Lorella Springs via Roper Bar
154 klms sealed plus 302 unsealed route (456 klms)
Heading east at Mataranka to Roper Bar is the primary Savannah Way route which involves a longer unsealed experience. This road can also be an opportunity for those with four wheel drive vehicles to leave their caravans in Mataranka or Katherine and enjoy a more remote touring loop.
As with many remote routes it is advisable to take on fuel at every opportunity. The surface can be rough at times, so drive carefully to preserve your tyres. The road is sealed to Fizzy Creek, about 30km before Roper Bar. Roper Bar is an historic crossing of the Roper River.
272 klms from Roper Bar is Lorella Springs Wilderness Park, a huge 4,000 square kilomotres outback Australian cattle station surrounded by the Limen National Park.
Lorella Springs Station is a virtually untouched one million acre property – a dream retreat with a magical atmosphere of solitude and serenity. It is the final frontier of an ever changing world. Move away from the idyllic, unspoilt beaches on its 20 kilometres of ocean frontage, past the bird filled lakes, past rivers, hills, forests and savannah lands, climb past chasms, past waterfalls, past thermal springs, up the towering glittering crystalline escarpments, surveying this majestic massive country, and, as far as possible in every direction, all you can see is Lorella.
Mataranka to Cape Crawford via Roper Bar
From Roper Bar to Cape Crawford (141 kilometres) there are a series of bush camping opportunities at picturesque river locations. There are pit toilets (no showers) at Butterfly Springs, Limmen Crossing and Towns River.
Tomato Island has a boat launching area popular with fishermen. As in all fishing areas, please be aware of estuarine crocodiles and fishing regulations. Lormaieum Lagoon is a peaceful camping site near the evocative St Vidgeon homestead ruins.
Day 6 – Cape Crawford to Borroloola
Cape Crawford, 100 kilometres south-west of Borroloola is surrounded by savannah woodland, rock escarpments, waterfalls and waterholes. Despite the first part of its name, Cape Crawford is situated approximately 120 kilometres from the ocean and situated at the northern extremity (or cape) of the Abner Ranges, which were first discovered by drover Lindsay Crawford in 1880.
The Abner Ranges are home to an impressive formation known as the Lost City. The Lost City covers an area of about 8 square kilometres and is dotted with towering sandstone formations. These natural pillars remind many observers of skyscrapers, and are well worth a visit. Helicopter flights which land in the Lost City give access to four wheel drive tours through the sandstone formations.
Borroloola is one of Australia’s most remote towns, with a lawless frontier history, and these days a base for many fishermen. Visit the Old Police Station Museum with a key from the caravan park or nearby mechanic. Waralungka Arts Centre sells local Aboriginal art on weekdays. Guided fishing and boat ramps are available. As in all fishing areas, please be aware of estuarine crocodiles and fishing regulations.
Day 7 – Borroloola to Burketown
523 klms unsealed
Please ensure you plan your fuel usage between Borroloola and Doomadgee as this is a long stretch between fuel stops (and toilets – be prepared!).
Visit the Borroloola Police station for current weather information and road conditions. If travelling from Queensland, visit Doomadgee Roadhouse for more information on this section of The Savannay Way.
Most of the road is dirt to the Queensland border and a few sections of bitumens from the border to Doomadgee.
Take your time through this section as there is pleanty of river crossing, alot to see and some great campsites along the way.