Cobbold Gorge, Queensland
9-day Savannah Way road trip through Queensland
Explore Queensland’s epic nature on this nine-day Savannah Way Safari.
The Savannah Way road trip travels all the way across the country’s north from Western Australia to Queensland (or vice-versa). We’ve divided the journey into three sections as it passes through three of Australia’s states and territories. The entire Savannah Way can take upwards of three weeks to complete. You can do several sections independently, but if you’re ready to tackle this epic journey in its entirety, check out our other Savannah Way itineraries. Continue your route through the Northern Territory and complete the journey in Western Australia along the famous Gibb River Road.
Savannah Way road trip through the Northern Territory
Day 1: Explore Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef
One of the best ways to experience the world’s largest reef system is by visiting one of the many islands that are dotted among the turquoise waters. Book a full-day tour with Fitzroy Island Adventures, which begins with a 45-minute ferry from Cairns to the tropical paradise of Fitzroy Island.
Upon arrival, work up a sweat exploring the rainforest along the 3.6-kilometre (2.2-mile) Summit Trail; the climb is well worth the 360-degree views of the surrounding reef. After, cool off by snorkelling over vibrant coral gardens right off the beach. You can even meet the local turtles at the rehabilitation centre.
Day 2: Cairns to Ravenshoe
Today, you’ll set out onto the Savannah Way. Set your sights south toward Milla Milla, a drive of about 1.5 hours. Here, you’ll find stunning waterfalls set among vibrant green rainforests.
Drive the Waterfall Circuit, which takes in not only the well-known Milla Milla Falls but also Zillie and Ellinjaa Falls. The circuit takes about 30 minutes to drive. Bring your swimming costume – the waterhole below Milla Milla Falls is a true oasis.
Day 3: Ravenshoe to Undara
After waking up to mountain views and unspoiled World Heritage rainforest, drive just five minutes to Big Millstream Falls, the widest single-drop waterfall in Australia. Check out a number of short walks here, or continue another 30-minute drive to the Tully Gorge Lookout. Marvel at the views of steep rock walls and dense rainforest.
From Tully Gorge Lookout, drive about two hours west to the Undara Volcanic National Park. The highlight here is the Undara Experience (bookings essential), which allows you to explore one of the oldest and best-preserved lava tube systems anywhere on Earth.
Undara Experience even offers accommodation, so choose from beautifully appointed Pioneers Huts, newly restored railway carriages, the Swags Tent Village and the Outback Caravan Park and Camp Ground.
Day 4: Undara to Forsayth
Today, you’ll put 200 kilometres (124 miles) and around three hours between Undara and your next destination, Forsayth.
Forsayth was known for being the “Poor Man’s Goldfield” because visitors didn’t need expensive equipment to search for gold; they often found nuggets just lying on the ground.
If you’re interested in rail history, you’ll love a half-day train tour on a 1960’s classic “silver-bullet” rail motor train. Tours can be booked through Finnigans Rest Hotel.
Stay overnight at the historic Goldfields Hotel.
Day 5: Forsayth to Cobbold Gorge
While you’re in the heart of the Gulf Savannah region, head over to a hidden outback oasis – Cobbold Gorge, just over a one-hour drive from Forsayth.
At 1,700 million years old, geology is embedded into every inch of its 30-metre (98-foot) gorge walls. This natural wonder is breathtaking from every angle, and you can see them all with helicopter, stand-up paddleboarding, boat and hiking tours available.
When you’re not exploring its stunning scenery, emerald waters and cultural history, make yourself comfortable at one of many cabin options in the area. Alternatively, camp under the stars at a caravan or campsite.
Day 6: Cobbold Gorge to Karumba
After a few days in Queensland’s outback, it’s time to head coastal – but not before one last true blue Aussie drive along golden countryside.
Today, drive the 5.5-hour trek from Cobbold Gorge to Karumba, passing wildlife, roadside motels and historic outback towns.
After a dusty day on the road, set up camp at the Karumba Sunset Caravan Park or check in at the beachfront End of the Road Motel.
Day 7: Fishing in Karumba
Karumba is a haven for fishing enthusiasts, so join Kerry D Fishing Charters for a half-day fishing tour to see why thousands of anglers flock to Karumba each year in the hopes of reeling in one of Queensland’s biggest fish.
If the fish aren’t biting, you can always guarantee a sighting with a visit to the Les Wilson Barramundi Discovery Centre, the largest barramundi centre in the Southern Hemisphere. Explore the displays, and hand-feed Flossie the one-metre (3.2-foot) barramundi.
Days 8 and 9: Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park
This itinerary saves the truly magical for last. Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park may not be Australia’s most well-known national park, but it's certainly one of its most beautiful.
Boodjamulla is a six-hour drive from Karumba. Just before you reach Lawn Hill, stop at Riversleigh World Heritage Fossil Site to explore Australia’s most famous fossil location. You’ll see the first records of many groups of living mammals, as well as extinct species such as the “marsupial lion.” The site even caught Sir David Attenborough’s attention, so you know it’s impressive.
Spend the next two nights at Adels Grove – an eco-sensitive camping park situated alongside the emerald green waters of Lawn Hill Creek. From here, you can spend your second day in Boodjamulla National Park exploring the park’s dramatic red rock formations. Adels Grove offers tours that will take you on a cruise through rugged escarpments and the spectacular Lawn Hill Gorge.
After your Boodjamulla exploration, your Queensland safari has come to an end – but this isn’t the end of the cross-country Savannah Way road trip. You can continue the journey on the Savannah Way road trip through the Northern Territory.