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 recently it was graded, so take it easy and look out for bulldust holes and sharp rocks.

Limmen National Park features numerous, large sandstone spires and rounded domes sometimes called “lost cities”. The most accessible site is the Southern Lost City, 4km off the Nathan River road near Lorella Springs with camping facilities, toilet block and a 2.5km walking track. Nathan (Western) Lost City is 28km off the Nathan River road, is day visitation only and requires a key from Nathan River Ranger Station (Ph: (08) 8975 9940). Limmen National Park has several campgrounds including the picturesque Butterfly Falls.

Lorella Springs Station is a popular remote hideaway with great camping, African style safari tents and cabins. Spend some days sampling the outstanding river and coastal fishing or fun 4WDing before soaking in the hot springs and finishing in the bar. Excellent safe swimming holes, bushwalks and friendly hosts. Fuel available.

You’ll pass the St Vidgeons ruins, a homestead abandoned in 1974. Lomarium Lagoon is a nice photo stop but camping is not permitted.

Munbililla Campground, or Tomato Island, is a National Parks campground with good facilities, boat ramp and fish cleaning facilities. You’ll get the Ngukurr community’s Telstra mobile reception here. Roper Bar is an historic settlement on the Roper River. Ludwig Leichhardt crossed the river in 1845 at Roper Bar, a rocky shelf at the river’s high tide mark, naming it after John Roper from his expedition. The bar separates the salty, tidal waters and the fresh water upstream. Permits are not required for camping on the southern side of the river. Fishing access includes two boat ramps nearby and the banks downstream of the bar.

Munbililla Campground | Northern Territory National Parks & Wildlife

Be careful if crossing the bar. Locals advise that generally if the Red Rock river height is over 3 metres the Roper Bar crossing will be too high to drive over. Pass Police Station ruins on the left going down to the Bar to Leichhardt’s Crossing memorial.

Please note that the Roper Bar Store is now closed, so there is no fuel, camping or accommodation available.

Port Roper is simply a boat ramp with no facilities. Fishing from the banks is not advised.

Around 40km from Roper Bar it’s sealed road to Mataranka on the Stuart Highway. Cattle station permission required for camping.


Jeannie Gunn’s classic Australian novel “We of the Never Never” (1906) documents a pioneer woman’s life here. Visit the cemetery, replica homestead and town memorabilia to imagine early settler life.

Relax at Bitter Springs, floating with the current along a crystal clear creek or visit the more established Mataranka Thermal Pools.

Mataranka Thermal Pool