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Tour ID: 10043575

Our Top End Explorer is a fantastic way to experience a memorable journey along the "Savannah Way" from Darwin to Cairns. This tour also operates in reverse from Cairns to Darwin (see separate listing)

8 Days – 7 nights Top End – Darwin to Cairns (The Savannah Way)


We begin our tour departing Darwin, passing through the towns of Palmerston and Noonamah. We stop at Berry Springs (crystal clear warm springs) and Tumbling Waters (named after the rapids where gold was discovered) before venturing into Litchfield National Park, a park covering approximately 1500 square kilometres. Litchfield became a National Park in 1986 and whilst traversing the park, we’ll visit the delightful Tolmer, Florence and Wangi Falls. As our first busy day comes to a close, we’ll finish up with a short drive to the small township of Bachelor where we find our overnight accommodation - Rum Jungle/Batchelor (private facilities).
(MT, L, D)

We begin our day traveling to Adelaide River; here we take time to wander through the World War 2 Cemetery and Museum. Adelaide River was home to around 30,000 soldiers during the Second World War and many of those lost during the Japanese bombing of Darwin are buried here. Continuing south to Pine Creek, we take a look over the old gold mine and troubled north-south railway. From here it’s on to Edith Falls and time for a swim. Nitmiluk National Park (East of Katherine) is our afternoon stop, where we take a cruise down the beautiful and rocky, Nitmiluk Gorge (Katherine Gorge). Nitmiluk is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘cicada dreaming’. Leaving Katherine township, we head south to spend the night at Mataranka (private facilities) - off the Stuart Highway - where you can rejuvenate yourself in the famous thermal rock pools.
(B, MT, L, D)

Leaving the tranquility of Mataranka, we head east and away from the Stuart Highway to the old Roper Bar Police Station and Lock Up; this was once where the only crossing was found ‘the Bar’. After departing the Roper River, we cross the Towns, Cox, Limmen Bight and other numerous wet and dry Rivers enroute to Limmen National Park. Within the National Park we visit the phenomenal rock formations of the Southern Lost City. The erosion of the sandstone escarpment here has led to the formation of numerous, large sandstone spires and rounded domes giving it the name ‘Lost City’. Continuing on, we are eventually treated to some luxury in the form of a bitumen road before reaching Borroloola. This small town, located on the McArthur River 50km from the Gulf of Carpentaria, is supported by the mining and fishing industries.
Overnight: Borroloola (private facilities)
(B, MT, L, D)

Departing Borroloola, you’ll appreciate the size of Australia as we traverse the outback leaving the Northern Territory to cross the border into Queensland and on through Hells Gate to the eerie rock formations found here. In the late 1800s, police stationed at nearby Corinda provided regular escorts for settlers as far as the rocky escarpments of Hell's Gate, refusing to accompany the travelers past this point because of the fierceness of Aboriginals to the area. We bypass Domadgee and travel south through the gates and rivers of Lawn Hill Station. We’ll stay at Adels Grove (shared facilities), by the lily-covered Lawn Hill Creek, tonight and tomorrow night.
(B, MT, L, D)

After a late breakfast, we take the short drive to Lawn Hill National Park and have the option of either hiring a canoe to paddle along the cliffs of Lawn Hill Gorge to Indarri falls or bush-walking one of the many tracks around the National Park, or a mixture of both! Returning to Adels Grove for lunch, we have the afternoon to relax by the water with a drink or book in hand. There is also a morning option of a guided tour to the World Heritage Riversleigh fossil fields (own expense).
(B, MT, L, D)

Departing Adels Grove and the Lawn Hill National Park area, we travel past the Century Zinc Mine and to Gregory Downs. We return to the main Savannah Way and on to Burketown, taking in the huge salt flats of the area. A tiny battler’s town, Burketown had a population of 173 in the 2006 census! The town is situated 30km inland from the Gulf of Carpentaria and named after explorer Robert O’Hara Burke of ‘Burke and Wills’ fame. We cross the Leichardt River and continue through the huge cattle stations of the Gulf Savannah region to Normanton, on the Norman River. Normanton is home to crocodile statue Krys - Krys was the largest crocodile ever shot in Australia at 8.63metres. Whilst in Normanton we also take a look around the old train station the ‘Purple Pub’ which is in fact, purple!
Overnight: Karumba
(B, MT, L, D)

This morning we depart Normanton and head to the coastal township of Karumba, on the Gulf of Carpentaria, famous for its fishing and industry ports for cattle and zinc mining. We continue through the outback on the Gulf Developmental Road to Croydon and Lake Belmore (Croydon’s water supply). Further on we arrive in to Georgetown; here we have an optional stop to view the mineral museum. We travel past Mount Surprise and overnight at Undara (private facilities).
(B, MT, L, D)

We start today with a guided tour of the infamous Undara Lava Tubes before heading east to Mount Garnet through cattle country and outback scenery. We continue on to Ravenshoe (pronounced Ravens-hoe) township for lunch. Further on is the beautiful Millstream Falls then the Tablelands region with its dairy farms, crops, rainforest and greenery - a stark change from the outback regions traveled over the last few days. Heading off the highway and into a World Heritage Rainforest area, we visit the Clohesy Boardwalk to view amazing plant life including giant Strangler Fig Trees. We continue toward Copperlode Dam (just inland from Cairns) and Lake Morris, an extremely picturesque lake surrounded by rainforest-covered mountains; this is Cairns water supply catchment. Our exclusive permit allows us to traverse this area and 4WD through its rainforest and river crossings. On our journey, we see spectacular plant life including rare King Ferns, one of our earliest vascular plant forms dating back 325 million years. Finally, we descend the Lamb Range above Cairns with amazing views over city and ocean, before being dropped-off at your hotel a fitting end to a memorable journey over some of Australia’s wildest and most remote countryside.
(B, MT, L).

What to bring:
Sturdy walking shoes, camera, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, cash for personal expenses and personal items. Small suitcase (preferably soft)

Departs: Darwin 0700
Returns: Cairns late afternoon

Please remember that Single Travellers must purchase the optional extra "single supplement" if you prefer your own private room, otherwise you may be roomed with another single traveller.

Seasonal weather conditions and operational requirements may cause a variation in the tour itinerary. The operator reserves the right to subsitute or modify if required Please read our terms and conditions carefully. Departure and Return times are approximate. Tour is not suitable for infants.

More Info

Tour Details

  • Included in price:

    What’s included:
    • Transfers – from and to your accommodation.
    • Interpretation – friendly, knowledgeable guides explain our unique flora and fauna.
    • Personalised – small group tour.
    • Modern 4WD luxury vehicle.
    • All meals as stated in the itinerary.
    • Accommodation as stated in the itinerary.
    • National Park and Site Fees.
    • Attractions as stated in the itinerary.
    • Darwin
    • Berry Springs
    • Litchfield National Park
    • Batchelor
    • Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge & National Park
    • Mataranka Springs
    • Roper River
    • Limmen National Park
    • Southern Lost City
    • Borroloola
    • Hells Gate
    • Lawn Hill National Park
    • Gregory Downs
    • Burketown
    • Leichardt River
    • Normanton
    • Karumba
    • Croydon
    • Georgetown
    • Mount Surprise
    • Undara Lava Tubes
    • Mount Garnet
    • Atherton Tablelands
    • Cairns

    Meals are provided as stated below.
    B L D (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner).
    MT (MT= Morning Tea).

  • Available for purchase/hire:

    Scenic Flight over The Lost City

  • Duration:

    8 Days / 7 Nights

  • Departure:

    7:00 AM Wed

  • Return:


  • Departure points:


  • Pickup/departure instructions:

    Pick up from Accommodation is included.

  • Fitness level required:


  • Child policies:

    This tour is not suitable for children under 14 years of age

  • Additional Information:

    This tour also operates in reverse.
    Cairns to Darwin
    See separate listing

  • Destinations:

    Cairns, Darwin, Lake Morris, Atherton Tablelands, Undara Lava Tubes, Croydon, Darwin Harbour, Katherine Gorge, Litchfield National Park, Black Mountain, Clohesy River, Lawn Hill National Park, Normanton, Hells Gate, Mataranka Springs and Burketown

Booking dates