People on guided tour at Undara Lava Tubes

Where to go

Gulf Savannah & Outback

Discover Where the Outback Meets the Sea

A vast untouched region stretching from the east coast right across the Gulf of Carpentaria, the Gulf Savannah is dotted with geological wonders, historic mining towns and legendary fishing spots.

As you travel here you start to slow down, to feel the heartbeat of the region and get a glimpse of just how amazing it is

Bram Collins – Undara Experience

Lawn Hill Gorge, Boodjamulla Pational Park

ON THE WAY

The Savannah Way is one of Australia’s great road trips, an epic journey across the top of the country running 3700km through three states and territories from Cairns to Broome. On the way, it passes through 15 National Parks and five World Heritage Sites, across vast cattle stations and through historic mining towns. The section of the route from Cairns to Darwin is largely sealed, meaning it’s relatively easy to explore this vast region.

The Savannah Way

savannahlander train

MAKE TRACKS

For a different take on the landscape, hop aboard a train. The legendary Gulflander is the train that goes “from nowhere to nowhere” on a one-of-a-kind line connecting Normanton and Croydon. The Savannahlander runs in a four-day loop from Cairns to the old goldfields town of Forsayth.

Train experiences

THE AWESOME ANCIENT

Ancient geological wonders create an extraordinary landscape. Be awed by the sheer walls of Copperfield Gorge near Einasleigh, walk through the world’s largest lava tubes at Undara or explore the rugged sandstone formations of Cobbold Gorge. Don’t miss the Riversleigh fossil deposits outside Mount Isa, which are some of the richest and most extensive in the world, dating back 15-25 million years, and the Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park, home to spectacular limestone caves and galleries of Indigenous art.

Geological wonders

Fossicking in the Tropical North Queensland Outback

GO FOR GOLD

Miners were some of the first to settle this region, flocking here in search of gold, silver, tin and lead during the 19th century. The region is also rich in gems like agate, quartz, topaz and amethyst. Purchase a Fossickers License and head to one of the many fossicking sites in the region.

Discover Gems

Castnetting Karumba

GET TO KNOW THE LOCALS

This is also the place to meet genuine Outback characters. Join them for a beer in a tiny country pub or chat about the journey ahead at a remote roadhouse on the Savannah Way. They’ll be able to recommend the best fishing spots around Normanton or the best place to buy fresh prawns straight from a trawler in Karumba. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation.

Tips

  • Clear skies and few artificial lights make for some of the best stargazing in the country. From late September to early November, the incredible Morning Glory cloud formations – long straight lines of cloud – stretch for thousands of kilometres across the Gulf of Carpentaria.

  • The fishing is incredible around the Gulf Savannah, with barramundi found all over the region. Catch bountiful blue salmon, grunter and bream around Karumba, and sweetlip, coral trout, parrot fish and red emperor off Sweers and Mornington islands.

  • Don’t forget your binoculars – it’s a birdwatcher’s paradise, especially in the wet season. Some 20 wetlands across the Gulf Savannah attract thousands of migratory birds. Mutton Hole Wetland is home to brolgas, whistling ducks and sarus cranes.

Discover the Gulf Savannah

In the Gulf Savannah region you can hop aboard two of Australia’s great train journeys, discover ancient fossils, fossick for gems and meet a host of authentic Outback characters.

dirt road on the Savannah Way
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Why the Undara Lava Tubes should be on your must-see list

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7 road trips you don’t want to miss

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Top Scenic Flights

From scenic flights over the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest to flying to an ancient aboriginal rock art site or undertaking an epic helicopter pub crawl, take to the sky on your Tropical North Queensland adventure.

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Aerial of Kalkani Crater at sunset

Getting here

  • dirt road on the Savannah Way

    By car

    Self-drive or hire a car and journey along the Savannah Way. The route is accessible with a two-wheel drive, although four-wheel drive vehicles can venture off the grid and discover the many loop roads of the Gulf Savannah and Outback region.

  • The Gulflander crossing a bridge

    By rail

    Queensland Rail’s, Savannahlander departs Cairns weekly for Forsayth with touring options available along the itinerary. The Gulflander famously travels from nowhere to nowhere, travelling from Normanton to Croydon once a week with a return fare also available.

  • River channels aerial

    By air

    REX Regional Express offers direct flights from Cairns to Normanton, Burketown, Doomadgee and Mornington Island. Charter flights are also available to Undara, Forsayth and several other locales.

  • Bus in Karumba

    By bus/coach

    Trans North Bus & Coach Service operates the passenger and light freight service from Cairns to Karumba servicing many regional towns en route. They also provide bus links for the Gulflander and Savannahlander rail services.

Stay

The perfect spots for a little R&R.

 

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR

This isn’t your every day photo of a tropical paradise, but around here, we’re not limited to just reef & rainforest - we’ve got outback tracks too! 🏜

Say hello to Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park in #CapeYork ✨Open from June to December, this outback paradise is is renowned for its vast river systems & spectacular wetlands 🌴 The park has a rich & diverse landscape, with grasslands, woodlands, wetlands, coastal estuaries, mangroves & mudflats even! You can also find sandstone hills & escarpments on the southern end of the park 😍 It’s also a place of local Aboriginal significance, with sites associated with occupation, ceremonies & stories of ancestral spirits found throughout the park 👣 

📸 @true.north.adventures #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
If only every day could finish on a high like this 💫 This month only @yagurlitours has teamed up with @balloonaloft to trial a hot air ballooning experience over spectacular Gulf country 🌅✨ 

@australia’s largest salt pans can be found in #Burketown in the Gulf of Carpentaria, country of the Gangalidda & Garawa peoples. This incredible tour teaches guests about connection to the land & how the intricate weave of patterns & textures below closely resemble the beautiful art they create 👣🎨

Tours are scheduled daily, so this is your last chance to experience the beauty of the outback from a balloon basket (for now at least 🤫) ☀️

📸 @alittleatlarge #explorecairnsGBR  #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #exploreTNQ
Winter in the outback? Now that’s what we call heaven ☀️ If you’re visiting @cobboldgorge, make like @roadrunnur & book a SUP tour 🛶 There’s no better way to get up close & personal with the beauty of the gorge ✨ Beneath your board, native fish dart through the waters & beside you, the sandstone walls soar 19 metres high! 🐠⛰
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​#thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #exploreTNQ  #explorecairnsGBR
Follow the palm trees to paradise in the tropics🌴 We might be a little biased, but there’s no better place for a driving holiday than @tropicalnorthqueensland 🌴🚙 From reef to rainforest to an outback oasis, get ready for your ultimate travel experience 🙌

Click the bio link for more info 👆
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​📸 @tropicalpassports #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia #thisisqueensland #exploreTNQ
Happy birthday @queensland! 🎉

Celebrating Queensland Day under the stars in #MissionBeach ✨🌴 

There’s a lot to love about our beautiful state, especially in @tropicalnorthqueensland 🙌 We’ve got the @wettropicsworldheritage listed rainforest & @gbrmarinepark in our backyard, vast outback landscapes, incredible culture & some amazing wildlife 🌿🐨 What’s not to love 😉

Is this your favourite place in Queensland? 🦋
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​📸 @gattinicolas #thisisqueensland #exploreTNQ  #seeaustralia #explorecairnsGBR

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