Savannah Way 4WD Guide | Everything You Need To Know

Savannah Way is considered as Australia’s Adventure Drive, and it links Cairns in Tropical North Queensland with the historic town of Broome in Western Australia’s Kimberley region. You’ll pass through the natural wonders of the country’s tropical savannahs and Northern Territory’s Top End.

The 3700 km road connects 15 National Parks and five World Heritage areas. You can explore only a section of it or cross the entire continent and enjoy the sprawling horizons, towering gorges, and abundant wildlife. So, the whole trip will be worth it!

Are you planning a trip to the Savannah Way? Here are all the things that you need to know about this scenic route:

How Do I Get To the Savannah Way?

If you choose not to fly to Broome that will only take around 2 hours, you can drive from Darwin to Broome for about 19 hours and 30 minutes. From Darwin, follow the Tiger Brennan Dr to National Hwy 1 in Holtze, and after that, you can take this route:

  • Merge onto National Highway 1
  • After 23.1 km, keep right to stay on National Highway 1
  • Keep right after 274 km to stay on National Highway 1
  • After 557 km, turn left to stay on National Highway 1
  • Continue straight onto Broome Rd
  • After 30.9 km, turn left onto Old Broome Rd
  • Take the 3rd exit which leads to Bagot St at the roundabout after 2.7 km
  • At the next roundabout, take the third exit that leads Coghlan St 
  • After 550 m, take the 2nd exit on the roundabout which will take you to Frederick St
  • Turn left onto Herbert St after 190 m
  • After 700 m, take the 1st exit at the roundabout which leads to Anne St
  • Turn left onto Walcott St

What Should I Know About the Savannah Way?

This tourist road was “created” in 2004 at Australia’s ‘Top End’ as the result of more than $500,000 spent to make a more “tourist-friendly” journey, including directional road signage, interpretive panels, and publishing dedicated route brochures, map, and travel websites.

Over 80 per cent of the 3700 km road has been sealed, but for more adventurous drivers an alternate 4WD route can also be taken. The route goes through some of Australia’s most impressive scenery, such as five World Heritage areas, 15 national parks, historic gold mining towns, the world’s longest lava tubes, Outback cattle stations, Australia’s first pub, and a wealth of indigenous culture.

The Savannah Way passes through 19 bioregions on one territory (Northern Territory) and two states (Western Australia and Queensland). The tropical savannah regions, which spans around 1.9 million square kilometres (a quarter of mainland Australia) can be usually described as landscapes of thick grass and dispersed trees. Home to many species of flora and fauna, many of these groups are found nowhere else in the world. The Gulf Savannah region is exceptionally diverse, as it is the habitat of wildlife within tropical rainforests, mangrove swamps, rocky gorges, rivers, and wetlands.

Some iconic flora and fauna you should look out for are; Wedge-tailed eagles, which have wingspans that reach up to 2.5m and are one of the largest eagles in the world; Camels. Since there are an estimated 200,000 feral camels in the Northern Territory, and the Boab tree, which is often found in the remote region Kimberley in Western Australia and stores water inside its bulbous trunk. Normanton in Queensland is recognised throughout the world as an essential location for around the third of Australia’s migratory birds, like brolgas and Sarus cranes. Another iconic and natural phenomena are the Magnetic termite mounds, which are mostly found in the Northern Territory are always oriented with their narrow edges facing north-south. These mounds are built by small, blind insects and are made this way so that they keep the sun away at noon.

How Are The 4WD Tracks in the Savannah Way?

The Savannah Way is over 3,700 km long, and thus, could be done in as little as three days. With that said – why would you do that? Make the most out of your trip, and give yourself a couple of weeks to absorb the exciting towns and spectacular attractions that you will pass by. Although most of the route is sealed, making large sections doable for 2WD sedans; there are sections where a 4WD is required. It includes the stretch between Normanton and Borroloola in the Carpentaria Gulf (with some sections impassable during the November to April ‘wet season’). Generally, the Savannah Way is easy to follow the route that features obvious signages, maps and brochures, interpretative displays, and a comprehensive visitor information centre network for visitors.

This fascinating track goes through some of Australia’s most impressive scenery, including 4 World Heritage Areas and 15 National Parks. So, this area is suited for the ultimate getaway! Marvel as you journey through diverse and dramatic landscapes featuring ancient gorges, rock pools, waterfalls, salt pans and hot springs. All the things to do and see within this trek are near-infinite. However, beginning from Broome, the highlights of this trip in a particular order could include Geikie Gorge and the vast flood plains of the Fitzroy River, Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungle), Lake Argyle near Kununurra, Timber Creek (the doorstep to Gregory National Park), Katherine Gorge (one of NT’s most scenic natural attractions). Aside from that, the small township of Roper Bar, the remote fishing community of Borroloola, the bird-watching wetlands between Normanton and nearby Karumba, and last but not least – the Undara Lava Tubes (in the Undara Volcanic National Park), which boasts the largest and most preserved lava tubes system on earth.

What Are The Other Things That I Can Do in the Savannah Way?

While driving through the Savannah Way, you can head to these places:

  • Mount Campbell
  • Noel Buntine Memorial
  • Mataranka Homestead Tourist Resort
  • Lomarieum Lagoon
  • Maria (Wamungku) Lagoon
  • Southern Lost City
  • Leila Hill
  • Snipe Lagoon
  • Echo Gorge
  • Lake Morgan
  • Dilldoll Rock
  • Armstrong Waterhole
  • Turkey Knob Hill

What Do Other 4WD Enthusiasts Say About the Savannah Way?

“The actual Savannah Way does have river crossings along the way. They are not all bridged. Having said that they wouldn’t be a challenge for your 4WD vehicle. Last year, when I drove through it fully the part between Hells Gate and Borroloola was corrugated and certainly wasn’t geared for low clearance vehicles. One river crossing approach needs extreme caution (mainly on the western approach), but the water when you got down to it was only wheel height, i.e. 500mm. There are a lot of travellers on the route, so while I am an advocate for sat phones, you won’t be travelling alone for long. Tyre pressure management can also help on the rough bits, so carrying a portable compressor might be a good idea. As for security, that is the issue with utes. We heard stories of people losing stuff but didn’t suffer any losses ourselves. I don’t think the destination matters as much, as anything left unattended and accessible while you walk into a waterfall or stop at a café etc. is considered fair game. The actual Savannah Way is an adventure, and you sound like you are up for that. The alternative suggested by Athol is an easier drive and plenty to see also – it is where the 2wds and hire cars to go.” -Kenell (ExplorOz)

Where Should I Stay in the Savannah Way?

If you want to explore the Savannah Way fully, you can spend the night at one of these places:

  • Roebuck Roadhouse
  • Ngumban Cliff Lookout
  • Leycesters Rest
  • Spring Creek
  • Fletchers Creek, Great Northern Hwy
  • Telegraph Creek
  • Doon Doon Roadhouse
  • Dunham River Rest Area
  • Cockburn Rest Area
  • Kununurra West Rest Area
  • Saddle Rest Area
  • East Baines River 
  • Victoria River Roadhouse
  • Sullivan Campground
  • Vince Connoly Crossing

Related Questions

Where Does The Savannah Way Start And Finish?

Your Savannah travel route can start from Cairns through the deep outback gorges and end in the historic town of Broome or even in Kakadu National Park.

Is The Savannah Way Sealed?

Crossing the bottom of the Cape York Peninsula the Savannah Way joins several small towns – most of which were born of late 19th-century gold rushes. While the road is sealed, it is usually closed by flooded streams during the Wet.

How Long Does It Take To Drive The Savannah Way?

The Savannah Way is a four-wheel-drive journey that traverses the rugged and challenging country. Plan to spend at least 15 days for the Northern Territory section. If you want to take the whole trip, which runs from Cairns to Broome (3700km), you will need to allow at least 20 days.

Is The Carpentaria Highway Sealed?

The Carpentaria Highway spans 380 km (240 mi) which runs from near Daly Waters to Borroloola in the Northern Territory, Australia. It is a sealed road and is a section of the National Highway 1. The Highway takes its name from the Gulf of Carpentaria, which it links with the Stuart Highway.

Is There A Train From Darwin To Cairns?

The timeliness of the buses depends from city to city. However, you can be assured that they serve the main tourist areas. There’s also no train from Cairns to Darwin. The only train from Darwin goes south, to Alice Springs then Adelaide.

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