Explore tropical rainforests, ancient gorges and coastal towns on this amazing drive from Western Australia to Queensland.
Unfurling for 3700 kilometres, traversing 15 national parks and taking in five World Heritage-listed sites, the Savannah Way is the country’s longest – and arguably most incredible – road trip. Connecting Broome on the west coast with Cairns in the east and passing through the Top End, this four-wheel feat can span 14 days, three weeks or as long as your wanderlust allows.
A pearling town since the 1880s, Broome – Rubibi to the local Yawuru people – is the jewel of Western Australia’s northern coast. Take a sunset camel ride along Cable Beach’s white sand (right) and look out for dinosaur tracks in the red rocks at low tide on Gantheaume Point. If you started your journey in the east and are winding it up here, take a well-earned rest on luxury sheets at waterfront Eco Beach Resort.
Nitmiluk National Park, NT
The undeniable centrepiece of Nitmiluk National Park is the majestic Nitmiluk Gorge, carved by the Katherine River over millions of years. But each of the park’s 13 gorges has its own dramatic rapids and waterfalls so hire a canoe (right) or take a sunset boat cruise to see the cliffs glow in shades of purple and red. Nitmiluk is a Jawoyn word meaning “cicada place” and ancient rock-art sites within the park tell the Dreaming stories of its traditional custodians.
Boodjamulla National Park, QLD
It’s bit of a detour – about 120 kilometres from Doomadgee – but Boodjamulla National Park is worth it for its dramatic red sandstone rock faces that plunge into emerald-green water and fossil deposits that have been praised by Sir David Attenborough. This rainforest-fringed reserve is sacred to the Waanyi people, who believe the Rainbow Serpent (Boodjamulla) formed the gorge that cuts through it. Find the fossils at Riversleigh World Heritage Site and 10 kilometres from the park, stop at Adels Grove, a laid-back oasis of cabins and campsites.
A small seaside town on the Carpentaria coast, about 70 kilometres from Normanton, Karumba is surrounded by wetlands teeming with birdlife, including jabiru, pelicans and brolgas. Karumba Lodge motel and caravan park sits on the shores of the Norman River and has a casual, breezy vibe, while the Sunset Tavern (2 Ward Street; 07 4745 9183; left) is the spot to watch the day fade as you tuck into mud crab and a cold beer. During spring, Karumba is one of the only places in the world where you can see the rolling pipeline clouds of the Morning Glory formation.
The unofficial capital of Tropical North Queensland, Cairns draws crowds with its bustling markets, cool cafés – try the Fairtrade Organic house blend at Blackbird Espresso – and high-end resorts, such as the elegant and contemporary Riley. Enjoy a cocktail and woodfired pizza with the locals at The Pier Bar, where live music is the soundtrack for the water views.
Image credits: Nicholas Kavo, Rowan Bestmann, Jack Harlem, Reuben Nutt.