Outback Odyssey 10-Day Epic Across Australia’s Savannah Way

Discover the untamed beauty of Australia’s Savannah Way on a 10-day journey that covers two states and one territory, spanning a whopping 3,700 km. From the lively coastal city of Cairns to the remote tranquility of Burketown, immerse yourself in the unique landscapes, historical wonders, and vibrant local cultures of the Queensland outback.

Ready to swap coastal vibes for outback skies? This thrilling road trip will take you through ancient geological formations, local hideaways, and awe-inspiring landscapes. With stops for waterfall swims, barra fishing, fossicking for gemstones, and local yarning circles, every day brings a new adventure.

Day 1: Cairns to Undara

  • Start in Cairns, hit local farmers’ markets.
  • Drive to Undara, stop at Forty Mile Scrub National Park for a self-guided walk.
  • Stay in a historic railway carriage at Undara Experience.

Day 2: Explore Undara

  • Day tour of the Undara Lava Tubes.
  • Sunset at Kalkani Crater.

Day 3: Undara to Mount Surprise

  • Try your hand at fossicking for gemstones in Mount Surprise.

Day 4: Mt Surprise to Talaroo Hot Springs

  • Hot Springs Discovery Tour led by an Indigenous guide.

Day 5: Talaroo to Cobbold Gorge

  • Guided tour of Cobbold Gorge.

Day 6: Cobbold Gorge to Georgetown

  • Visit the TerrEstrial centre to see the Ted Elliott Mineral Collection.

Day 7: Georgetown to Karumba

  • Visit the gold-rush town of Croydon.
  • Sunset at Karumba’s Sunset Tavern.

Day 8: Karumba to Burketown

  • Optional detour to Normanton.
  • Explore Burketown’s legendary bakery and the Morning Glory cloud formation.

Day 9: Burketown

  • Yagurli Tours for an Indigenous perspective on Burketown.

Day 10: Burketown to Home

  • Reflect on your journey, pack up, and start planning your next adventure.

Adventure awaits you on the Savannah Way, an iconic route that takes you on a 3,700 km journey through Australia’s top end. Your trek starts in Cairns, a bustling coastal city renowned for its vibrant atmosphere and proximity to world-class natural wonders. As you leave the coast behind, prepare to be mesmerized by the dramatic landscapes of the Queensland outback. Think endless horizons, turquoise waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria, and gemstone-laden creek beds, all begging to be explored.

Engage with accredited Savannah Guides, the guardians of regional stories and lore, to enrich your experience. You’ll stay in unique accommodations like a restored railway carriage and enjoy eco-friendly glamping. The trip also includes multiple guided tours, from exploring ancient lava tubes in Undara Volcanic National Park to cruising through Cobbold Gorge. This 10-day adventure is not just a trip; it’s a narrative of the Australian outback, designed to ignite your sense of wonder and enrich your soul.

Adventure Everyday Clothing

DAY 1

Cairns to Undara – A Journey from Coastal Vibes to Outback Charms

Morning: Kick-Start Your Adventure in Cairns

Start your day early by the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon as the sun begins to rise. This spot offers not just a swim but a fantastic view, serving as a perfect prelude to your adventure ahead.

Location: Cairns Esplanade Lagoon
Activity: Relax by the lagoon and enjoy a picturesque sunrise
Must-Do: Take a dip or just chill with a coffee, soaking in the morning atmosphere of Tropical North Queensland.

Mid-Morning: Elevate Your Senses in the Atherton Tablelands

From Cairns, head to the elevated beauty of the Atherton Tablelands. The natural waterfalls in the area are a refreshing pit stop. In Mareeba, elevate your senses further with a caffeine kick. The town is known for its exquisite coffee, so make sure to get your fill before you continue.

Location: Atherton Tablelands, specifically in Mareeba
Activity: Swim under waterfalls and indulge in fresh produce
Must-Do: Get your caffeine fix at Coffee Works or Skybury Coffee Plantation

Early Afternoon: Revel in Ravenshoe

Hit the road again and drive to Ravenshoe. Feel the cool breeze as you ascend to Queensland’s highest town. A little detour takes you to Millstream Falls and Tully Falls—each a spectacle in its own right, especially during the wet season.

Location: Ravenshoe
Activity: Explore the historic timber town
Must-See: Millstream Falls and Tully Falls
Fun Fact: Ravenshoe is Queensland’s highest town, standing at 920m above sea level

 

Late Afternoon: The Forgotten Majesty of Forty Mile Scrub National Park

As you approach Undara, you’ll pass through the intriguingly named Forty Mile Scrub National Park. Despite its unassuming name, the park is a hidden gem. Take a self-guided walk through the park and discover ancient volcanic formations and lush, native birdlife.

Location: Forty Mile Scrub National Park
Activity: Self-guided walk
Recommended: Sturdy walking shoes and binoculars for bird-watching

 

Evening: Unique Accommodation Experience

Wrap up your first day at the Undara Experience, where you’ll be spending the night in a vintage Queensland Rail carriage. These carriages aren’t just a place to crash; they offer a historical, unique lodging experience, adding an unforgettable element to your trip.

Location: Undara Experience
Activity: Check-in and unwind
Must-Stay: Historic Railway Carriage
Tip: Book in advance as these unique accommodations get booked out quickly.

Book here

That’s your Day 1, filled with an array of experiences ranging from vibrant city life to unique outback adventures.
Get some rest, because the journey ahead promises even more wonders to explore!
Ready for day 2?

Day 2

Unearth the Wonders of Undara – From Lava Tubes to Mesmerizing Sunsets

Morning: Unveil the Mysteries Underground

Wake up to the serenity of Undara Experience and prepare for a day of subterranean exploration. At Undara Volcanic National Park, you’ll witness some of the world’s longest flows of lava tubes, a sprawling underground network dating back 190,000 years. Be sure to book a guided tour, as self-guided exploration is not an option.

  • Archway Explorer: This beginner-friendly tour follows boardwalks, making it accessible for all.
  • Wind Tunnel Explorer: For those craving a physical challenge, this tour includes clambering over uneven surfaces and rocks.

Location: Undara Volcanic National Park
Activity: Guided tour of Undara Lava Tubes
Options: Archway Explorer Tour for all fitness levels or Wind Tunnel Explorer for those seeking adventure
Tip: Book your tour in advance, as they fill up quickly

 

Mid-Day: Nature’s Whimsical Playground

Location: Undara Lava Tubes
Activity: Spot flora and fauna
What to See: Rainforest patches, wallabies, and diverse birdlife

As you traverse the ancient lava tubes, you’ll encounter surreal spots where nature bursts through rock openings, creating mini rainforests. Keep an eye out for wallabies hopping among the trees and a variety of birds taking refuge in the overhangs. The tubes are also home to colonies of insectivorous bats, so bring your camera for some unique snapshots.

Afternoon: Stretch Your Legs

Location: Walking trails around Undara Volcanic National Park
Activity: Nature walk
Recommended: Comfortable walking shoes and water

Once you’ve had your fill of the underground wonders, take advantage of the walking trails around the national park. These trails offer a different, ground-level perspective of the area’s unique geology and ecology.

Evening: Sunset at Kalkani Crater

Location: Kalkani Crater
Activity: Sunset walk
Trail Length: 2.5 km
Must-See: The lava plains and volcanic vents at sunset

Wrap up your day with the Kalkani Crater Walk. This 2.5-kilometer trek is worth every step, offering a mesmerizing view of the sun setting over the lava plains and volcanic vents. The golden hues of the sky contrasting with the dark, ancient rocks make for a perfect end to your second day.

With a mix of underground exploration and scenic beauty, Day 2 offers a deep dive—quite literally—into the wonders of Undara. Rest up, the journey continues. Ready for Day 3?

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Day 3

From Lava Tubes to Gemstones – Undara to Mount Surprise

Morning: Hit the Road to Mount Surprise

Location: Undara to Mount Surprise via Highway 1
Activity: Scenic drive
Driving Tip: Ignore Google Maps’ suggestion to go via Conjuboy; stick to Highway 1

Jump back into the driver’s seat and start your engine; today’s adventure takes you to the quaint railway town of Mount Surprise. With just a 45-minute drive, today is all about the gems—literally. Once you hit the road, make sure to follow Highway 1, disregarding any alternate routes your GPS might suggest.

Late Morning: Get Your Fossicking License

Location: Online
Activity: Purchase Fossicking License
Recommended: Buy it online before you arrive in Mount Surprise

Before arriving, don’t forget to purchase a Fossicking License online here. This will give you legal access to the area’s precious gemstones. With this license in hand, you’ll be all set for an afternoon of treasure hunting.

Early Afternoon: Gemstone Galore at O’Brien’s Creek

Location: O’Brien’s Creek
Activity: Fossicking for gemstones
Tip: Check road conditions if it’s been rainy
Find: Topaz, aquamarine, and quartz family gems

Arrive at O’Brien’s Creek fossicking area—your gem-hunting playground for the day. The area is renowned for its collection of topaz, aquamarine, and various gems from the quartz family. Bring along your fossicking tools and spend the afternoon sifting through the dry creek beds. If fortune favors you, you’ll end the day with a handful of sparkling treasures.

Late Afternoon: Refuel and Reflect

Location: BP Roadhouse, Mount Surprise
Food Recommendation: Burger

After all that digging and sifting, chances are you’ve worked up an appetite. Head to the BP Roadhouse for a hearty burger. It’s a local favorite and a great place to share stories with fellow travelers or simply reflect on the day’s sparkling discoveries.

Pack up your newfound gems and memories, because the journey isn’t over yet. Tomorrow holds another day of adventure.

Here is day 4:

Day 4

Journey from Gemstones to Geothermal Magic – Mount Surprise to Talaroo Hot Springs

Morning: Head to Talaroo Hot Springs

Location: Mount Surprise to Talaroo Hot Springs
Activity: Scenic drive
Travel Note: Make sure you’ve packed up all your gemstone treasures!

Start your day by hitting the road westward towards Talaroo Hot Springs, one of Outback Queensland’s geological jewels. The drive is short but filled with anticipation as you venture deeper into the Australian Outback.

Late Morning: Meet Your Indigenous Guides

Location: Talaroo Hot Springs
Activity: Hot Springs Discovery Tour with Indigenous Guide
Highlights: Learn about the cultural significance of the hot springs to the Ewamian people

Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted warmly by the Ewamian people. Opt for the Hot Springs Discovery Tour guided by the local Indigenous experts. They’ll share with you the spiritual and geological significance of these hot springs, enriching your understanding of the landscape.

Early Afternoon: Elevated Walk and Stories

Location: Talaroo Hot Springs
Activity: Elevated boardwalk tour
What to See: Vents, terraces, and unique geological formations

The tour continues with a stroll along an elevated boardwalk that offers unobstructed views of the springs’ vents and terraces. As you meander, your guide will share stories and secrets that make this landscape so unique.

Late Afternoon: Healing Waters

Location: Talaroo Hot Springs
Activity: Soak in the communal pool
Experience: Spiritual and physical rejuvenation

Wrap up the tour by soaking in the communal pool. Feel the springs’ healing powers as you relax and reflect on the day’s adventures.

Evening: Choose Your Accommodation

Location: Talaroo Hot Springs
Options: Eco tent with queen bed and decking area OR DIY camping
Special Experience: Traditional yarning circle with Ewamian Rangers

For your stay, choose between the comfort of a pre-prepared eco tent, complete with a queen bed and decking area, or go for the DIY experience at a powered or unpowered campsite. Regardless of your choice, don’t miss the traditional yarning circle with Ewamian Rangers around the campfire to cap off your enriching day.

Collect more stories, connect deeper with the land, and prepare for tomorrow’s escapade

Here is day 5:

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Day 5

From Thermal Bliss to Rugged Beauty – Talaroo Hot Springs to Cobbold Gorge

Morning: Depart for Cobbold Gorge

Location: Talaroo Hot Springs to Cobbold Gorge
Activity: Scenic Drive
Travel Note: Say goodbye to the thermal wonders and get ready for a dramatic landscape change.

Hit the highway as you transition from the thermal splendors of Talaroo to the rugged beauty of Cobbold Gorge, Queensland’s “youngest” gorge at just about 10,000 years old. The drive will offer scenic views that prep you for the adventures ahead.

Late Morning: Guided Exploration of Cobbold Gorge

Location: Cobbold Gorge
Activity: Guided Tour with Savannah Guide
Highlights: Walk and cruise through the gorge, towering sandstone walls

Arrive at Cobbold Gorge and join a guided tour led by a knowledgeable Savannah Guide. The tour includes a walking component and a cruise that snakes through the gorge. Marvel at the soaring sandstone walls, rising up to 30 meters on either side.

Early Afternoon: Choose Your Adventure

Location: Cobbold Gorge
Options: Stand-up paddleboarding OR Scenic Helicopter Flight
Experience: Active exploration or aerial views

For those itching for more action, try stand-up paddleboarding to explore the gorge on your own terms. Alternatively, see it all from a different angle with a scenic helicopter flight that gives you a bird’s eye view of this ancient formation.

Late Afternoon: Time to Unwind

Location: Cobbold Village
Activity: Relax at the infinity pool with a swim-up bar
Recommended: Sip on a cool drink as you soak in the views

After an active day, unwind at Cobbold Village’s inviting infinity pool. The swim-up bar is a real treat and the perfect spot to reflect on the day’s adventures.

Evening: Choose Your Stay and Dinner

Location: Cobbold Village
Accommodation Options: Motel-style rooms, self-contained cabins, or camping/caravanning area
Dining Options: BBQ facilities or Gulf fish in the restaurant

For your overnight stay, Cobbold Village offers motel-style rooms, self-contained cabins, or camping areas to fit your travel style. Cook up your dinner on the available barbecues or opt for some delectable Gulf fish at the village restaurant.

Another day of diverse experiences under your belt, it’s time to rest up for the next day’s explorations.
Onto Day 6

Day 6

Gems and Geology – Cobbold Gorge to Georgetown

Morning: Depart for Georgetown

Location: Cobbold Gorge to Georgetown
Activity: Scenic Drive
Travel Note: Journey through the rugged outback to the gold-rush town of Georgetown.

Fuel up and hit the road as you head from Cobbold Gorge to Georgetown, a town established during the gold boom of 1869. Enjoy the scenic drive filled with heritage buildings and the vast outback landscape.

Mid-Morning: TerrEstrial Centre and Mineral Marvelsa

Location: TerrEstrial Centre, Georgetown
Activity: Mineral Collection Viewing
Highlights: Ted Elliott Mineral Collection, one of Australia’s largest private collections

Once in Georgetown, make your way to the TerrEstrial Centre to witness the Ted Elliott Mineral Collection. Boasting over 4,500 pieces, it’s considered one of the largest private collections in Australia.

Late Morning: Walk Through History

Location: Georgetown River Walk
Activity: Historical Walk
Experience: Etheridge River and Sandy Creek

Post mineral-gazing, stretch your legs on the 6km-long Georgetown River Walk. This route follows the Etheridge River and Sandy Creek, providing additional historical context to this charming town.

Another day of diverse experiences under your belt, it’s time to rest up for the next day’s explorations.
Onto Day 7

Day 7

Gold Rush to Gulf – Georgetown to Karumba

Early Morning: Head to Croydon

Location: Georgetown to Croydon
Activity: Scenic Drive
Travel Note: Off to another historical gold-rush town!

Start your day by heading toward Croydon, a picturesque gold-rush town dating back to 1885. The drive will set the mood for a step back in time.

Late Morning: A Dive into Croydon’s History

Location: Croydon
Activity: Heritage Tour
Highlights: Historic Buildings, True Blue Visitor Information Centre

Once in Croydon, visit historical landmarks like the courthouse, police station, jail, and town hall. Don’t miss the True Blue Visitor Information Centre, featuring outdoor heritage displays, vintage vehicles, a Miner’s Hut, and uniquely crafted garden seating.

Early Afternoon: Lake Belmore Leisure

Location: Lake Belmore
Activity: Recreational Activities
Options: Swimming, fishing, skiing, canoeing

Located less than 4kms from Croydon, Lake Belmore is the largest body of freshwater in the region. It’s an excellent spot for swimming, fishing, skiing, or canoeing. There are also picnic facilities if you fancy an al fresco lunch.

Evening: Savor the Seafood and Sunset at Karumba

Location: Karumba
Dinner: Local Seafood
Highlights: Sunset Tavern, Gulf of Carpentaria

You’ll end the day in Karumba, a fishing haven on the edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Treat yourself to the local wild-caught barramundi and prawns. Cap off the day with a cold beverage at the Sunset Tavern as you watch the sun dip below the horizon, offering a dramatic end to another adventurous day.

Click here to view the accommodation in the area

That’s two more days of rich history, geological wonders, and natural beauty. Get some sleep; tomorrow promises more exploration.
Onto Day 8

Day 8

From Coast to Clouds – Karumba to Burketown

Morning: Depart Karumba for Burketown

Location: Karumba to Burketown
Activity: Scenic Drive
Travel Note: Gear up for a trip to the Barramundi Capital of the World.

Pack up and get ready for a long drive to Burketown, a remote outpost that packs a punch despite its small size. Hit the road and make your way through the vast Savannah landscape.

Midday: Arrival in Burketown & Barramundi Pie

Location: Burketown
Activity: Explore & Eat
Must-try: Barramundi Pie from the local bakery

Once in Burketown, head to the local bakery to dig into the legendary Barramundi Pie. Trust me, it’s a slice of heaven for fish lovers.

Afternoon: Yagurli Tours & Cultural Exploration

Location: Burketown
Activity: Yagurli Tours
Highlights: Fishing charter, sunset Albert River cruise, stargazing

Take the rest of the day to connect with local Indigenous culture through Yagurli Tours. Run by the Gangalidda and Garawa peoples, options include fishing charters, a cruise along the Albert River at sunset, and a stargazing experience with a Gangalidda elder who’ll explain the sky’s significance to their culture.

Evening: The Marvel of Morning Glory Clouds

Location: Burketown
Activity: Cloud-watching (September to November)
Phenomenon: Morning Glory Cloud Formation

If you’re visiting between September and November, look out for the Morning Glory cloud formation, a true spectacle in the Burketown sky.


Onto Day 9

Day 9

Frontier Vibes – Burketown to Gregory

Morning: Head to Gregory

Location: Burketown to Gregory
Activity: Scenic Drive
Travel Note: Make your way to another frontier town.

Leave behind Burketown and aim for Gregory, a tranquil town set along the peaceful Gregory River. Enjoy the relatively short drive as you swap one frontier town for another.

Afternoon: Canoe Adventure on Gregory River

Location: Gregory River
Activity: Canoeing
Experience: Tranquil waterways

Once in Gregory, why not grab a canoe and take to the Gregory River? It’s a calming, beautiful way to get to know this isolated frontier town better.

Evening: Cozy Stay at Gregory Downs Hotel

Location: Gregory Downs Hotel
Activity: Overnight Stay
Hospitality: Hosted by Publican Jo

For the night, check into the Gregory Downs Hotel. This spot used to be a stagecoach stop en route to Burketown, and Publican Jo makes every guest feel like they’re part of the local tapestry.

Time to relax, because you’ve just completed another two days of travel filled with culture, history, and nature’s wonders. Cheers to that!
Onto Day 10

Day 10

Final Frontier – Gregory to Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park

Morning: Head to Boodjamulla National Park

Location: Gregory to Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park
Activity: Scenic Drive
Travel Note: Final stretch to a gorgeous destination!

Buckle up and roll out of Gregory for your final destination: Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park. Use the Gregory-Lawn Hill Road as your guide to this emerald wonderland, an oasis framed by towering sandstone and rainforest fringes.

Midday: Lawn Hill Gorge Exploration

Location: Lawn Hill Gorge, Boodjamulla National Park
Activity: Sightseeing and Cultural Exploration
Significance: Sacred to the Indigenous Waanyi people

Once you arrive, get lost (figuratively, of course!) in the beauty of Lawn Hill Gorge. This area is sacred to the Waanyi people, who believe that the Rainbow Serpent (Boodjamulla) created this mesmerizing landscape. It’s a piece of paradise that you’ve got to see to believe.

Afternoon: Step Back in Time at Riversleigh Fossil Fields

Location: Riversleigh World Heritage Site
Activity: Riversleigh Fossil Trail
Experience: 25 million years of history

After the gorge, make your way to the Riversleigh World Heritage Site, one of the richest fossil locales on the planet. The Riversleigh Fossil Trail, an 800m walk, is like a trip back in time, showcasing fossilized remains of giant birds and the world’s largest freshwater crocodile.

Evening: Choose Your Adventure for the Night

Options for Stay:

Wind down by camping in one of two awesome spots: Lawn Hill Gorge Camping Area or Miyumba Camping Area. The Lawn Hill spot puts you right next to the gorge, while Miyumba gets you up close and personal with prehistoric history. Either way, you’re ending the day surrounded by nature’s wonders.

Note: It’s always a good idea to book your camping spot in advance. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on these breathtaking locations.

What an epic day to cap off an incredible journey, right? Now, grab a cold one and toast to the memories you’ve made and the amazing landscapes you’ve explored

But wait theres more!!! Here are more things to do in the area: