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Cairns to Burketown

Enjoy the first 1/3rd of the Savannah Way with this fantastic touring route from Cairns to Burketown.

Travel Itinerary

Day 1: Cairns to Atherton

Cairns, the heart of Tropical North Queensland, is the starting point for The Savannah Way. Pick up your Apollo and explore the World Heritage listed rainforests surround this modern, cosmopolitan city which has a definite relaxed atmosphere. The first town along the Savannah Way is Kuranda, the ‘village in the rainforest’ known for its vibrant and diverse markets. There’s also a butterfly sanctuary, the Barron River Falls and of course the famous Kuranda Scenic Train. Mareeba is next, surrounded by thriving tropical primary industries, flourishing on rich volcanic soils. Fruit and nut orchards, coffee plantations, wineries and sugar cane fields grace the countryside. Terrific tours for all tastes can be organised from the Mareeba Heritage Museum and Information Centre.The Mareeba Wetlands is a great spot for everyone from bird watchers, walkers, photographers, four-wheel drivers and campers.

Day 2: Atherton by to Ravenshoe

Atherton is the perfect base to explore the enormous array of attractions – amidst rolling hills covered with tropical rainforest are waterfalls, crater lakes, coffee houses, galleries and a host of other charming temptations. There are some wonderful drives around Atherton. Danbulla State Forest lets you tour by car through natural rainforest, pine and eucalypt plantations to ‘The Chimney’s’ and Cathedral Fig. Tinaroo Dam on the Barron River has more than 200 kilometres of shore fringed with sandy beaches and rainforest and is a top spot for barramundi fishing. Visit Malanda, a rich dairying area and see the ancient Bromfield Swamp, the Malanda Falls, and the Malanda Environmental Centre for an educational explanation on how the magnificent Tropical Tablelands were formed.

Day 3: Ravenshoe to Georgetown

Ravenshoe to Georgetown – Image 012071 Cobbold Gorge (20) With heritage listed rainforest to the south and east and some wonderful drives, you can easily afford a night or two in Ravenshoe. Take a drive to Millaa Millaa, just 26 kilometres east and don’t miss the scenic Waterfall Circuit or the Millaa Millaa Lookout with spectacular views. At the Koombooloomba Information Centre see a display about the past timber cutting industry and a brilliant exhibit about the nocturnal animals of this unique area. After leaving Ravenshoe view Millstream Falls, Australia’s widest waterfalls and then drop into Innot Hot Springs for a soothing mineral spa. The Savannah Way leads you past hidden secrets like Wurruma Swamp just north of Mt Garnet with its amazing mixture of birdlife, through the Forty Mile Scrub with its rare and distinctive vine thicket, giant fig trees and wildlife. You then head due west to the access road to Undara Volcanic National Park. Concealed under the grass is the longest lava tube system in the world! From there it’s into Mt Surprise, a gem fossickers’ paradise.

Day 4: Georgetown to Croydon

Continue west to the friendly town of Eulo. Capture the aromas and flavours of the unique date wines at Australia’s most remote winery. Visit a date farm, take a mud bath. Learn about the legends surrounding the Eulo Queen. Take a short detour off the main road to visit the friendly opal town of Yowah where you can get some tips from the lo cals before trying your luck fossicking for your own opals. Detour to the beautiful Lake Bindegolly National Park, where you can follow a short walking circuit or simply take in the serenity from the observation point before re-joining the highway to Thargomindah.

Day 5: Croydon to Normanton

Croydon was once a bustling gold mining town boasting 19 hotels. By 1890 it had become Queensland’s second largest inland town. Today just one hotel remains. Drive down the wide street lined with historic buildings, many of them listed by the National Trust. The Croydon Historic Village contains what is left of a much larger gold mining city of the late 1800s including aerated water factories, gas lamps lighting the streets and foundries. Lake Belmore, about five kilometres north is the largest body of fresh water in the central Gulf Savannah, which The road meanders west alongside the tracks of the historical Gulflander train towards Normanton 151 kilometres and into time honoured Barra country.

Day 6: Normanton to Burketown

The hub of the Gulf, Normanton, is the next port of call on the brilliant Savannah Way. Ideally placed high on a ridge with the Savannah grasslands to the west and the wetlands to the north as well as the Norman River there are loads of great bird watching, camping and fishing locations with plenty of barramundi to lure the angler. This little slice of Queensland is internationally recognised as an important location for a third of Australia’s migratory wading birds. Head over to the coast and Karumba, the centre for the Gulf’s prawning and fishing industries on the mouth of the Norman River. The wetlands between Normanton and Karumba are as good as anywhere in the country so make sure you’ve kept the camera out. From Normanton, Burketown is 221 kilometres up the Savannah track. Most of the road from here on is dirt and you will be sharing it with road trains.

More: Continue on to Darwin or turn and head back to Cairns

  • Day 1: Cairns to Atherton

    Cairns, the heart of Tropical North Queensland, is the starting point for The Savannah Way. Pick up your Apollo and explore the World Heritage listed rainforests surround this modern, cosmopolitan city which has a definite relaxed atmosphere. The first town along the Savannah Way is Kuranda, the ‘village in the rainforest’ known for its vibrant and diverse markets. There’s also a butterfly sanctuary, the Barron River Falls and of course the famous Kuranda Scenic Train. Mareeba is next, surrounded by thriving tropical primary industries, flourishing on rich volcanic soils. Fruit and nut orchards, coffee plantations, wineries and sugar cane fields grace the countryside. Terrific tours for all tastes can be organised from the Mareeba Heritage Museum and Information Centre.The Mareeba Wetlands is a great spot for everyone from bird watchers, walkers, photographers, four-wheel drivers and campers.

  • Day 2: Atherton by to Ravenshoe

    Atherton is the perfect base to explore the enormous array of attractions – amidst rolling hills covered with tropical rainforest are waterfalls, crater lakes, coffee houses, galleries and a host of other charming temptations. There are some wonderful drives around Atherton. Danbulla State Forest lets you tour by car through natural rainforest, pine and eucalypt plantations to ‘The Chimney’s’ and Cathedral Fig. Tinaroo Dam on the Barron River has more than 200 kilometres of shore fringed with sandy beaches and rainforest and is a top spot for barramundi fishing. Visit Malanda, a rich dairying area and see the ancient Bromfield Swamp, the Malanda Falls, and the Malanda Environmental Centre for an educational explanation on how the magnificent Tropical Tablelands were formed.

  • Day 3: Ravenshoe to Georgetown

    Ravenshoe to Georgetown – Image 012071 Cobbold Gorge (20) With heritage listed rainforest to the south and east and some wonderful drives, you can easily afford a night or two in Ravenshoe. Take a drive to Millaa Millaa, just 26 kilometres east and don’t miss the scenic Waterfall Circuit or the Millaa Millaa Lookout with spectacular views. At the Koombooloomba Information Centre see a display about the past timber cutting industry and a brilliant exhibit about the nocturnal animals of this unique area. After leaving Ravenshoe view Millstream Falls, Australia’s widest waterfalls and then drop into Innot Hot Springs for a soothing mineral spa. The Savannah Way leads you past hidden secrets like Wurruma Swamp just north of Mt Garnet with its amazing mixture of birdlife, through the Forty Mile Scrub with its rare and distinctive vine thicket, giant fig trees and wildlife. You then head due west to the access road to Undara Volcanic National Park. Concealed under the grass is the longest lava tube system in the world! From there it’s into Mt Surprise, a gem fossickers’ paradise.

  • Day 4: Georgetown to Croydon

    Continue west to the friendly town of Eulo. Capture the aromas and flavours of the unique date wines at Australia’s most remote winery. Visit a date farm, take a mud bath. Learn about the legends surrounding the Eulo Queen. Take a short detour off the main road to visit the friendly opal town of Yowah where you can get some tips from the lo cals before trying your luck fossicking for your own opals. Detour to the beautiful Lake Bindegolly National Park, where you can follow a short walking circuit or simply take in the serenity from the observation point before re-joining the highway to Thargomindah.

  • Day 5: Croydon to Normanton

    Croydon was once a bustling gold mining town boasting 19 hotels. By 1890 it had become Queensland’s second largest inland town. Today just one hotel remains. Drive down the wide street lined with historic buildings, many of them listed by the National Trust. The Croydon Historic Village contains what is left of a much larger gold mining city of the late 1800s including aerated water factories, gas lamps lighting the streets and foundries. Lake Belmore, about five kilometres north is the largest body of fresh water in the central Gulf Savannah, which The road meanders west alongside the tracks of the historical Gulflander train towards Normanton 151 kilometres and into time honoured Barra country.

  • Day 6: Normanton to Burketown

    The hub of the Gulf, Normanton, is the next port of call on the brilliant Savannah Way. Ideally placed high on a ridge with the Savannah grasslands to the west and the wetlands to the north as well as the Norman River there are loads of great bird watching, camping and fishing locations with plenty of barramundi to lure the angler. This little slice of Queensland is internationally recognised as an important location for a third of Australia’s migratory wading birds. Head over to the coast and Karumba, the centre for the Gulf’s prawning and fishing industries on the mouth of the Norman River. The wetlands between Normanton and Karumba are as good as anywhere in the country so make sure you’ve kept the camera out. From Normanton, Burketown is 221 kilometres up the Savannah track. Most of the road from here on is dirt and you will be sharing it with road trains.

  • More: Continue on to Darwin or turn and head back to Cairns