Gulf Savannah 12 Day Tagalong Tour Itinerary

The fascinating landscape of the Gulf Savannah with its crystal clear rivers and vast cattle stations will leave an unforgettable memory. It is here that you will meet real outback characters, and follow in the footsteps of explorers and pioneers.

Day 1

This morning we meet in Cairns for our briefing session before heading off across the Atherton Tableland to the historic town of Herberton. Here we get to experience life as it was, back in the bustling gold rush days of early settlement. We travel on to Ravenshoe, the highest town in Queensland and we stop and take a look at the giant wind generators at the Windy Hill Wind Farm. Today’s destination is Undara, where we take a guided tour of the world’s longest lava tube system. This is where we set up camp for the night and together, we enjoy our Welcome Dinner, which is provided for us in these unique surroundings.

Day 2

We set off on our journey today, which takes us through the gem fossicking towns of Mt Surprise and Einasleigh. This is where we stop and take a short stroll to the spectacular Copperfield Gorge. We then head west to Forsayth, and then it’s on to Robin Hood Station, where our destination today is the breathtaking Cobbold Gorge. We take a guided tour through the gorge and see the magnificent sandstone cliffs that guard this tranquil and unforgettable place. We bush camp in the camping ground around a crackling fire.

Day 3

Today we head west from Georgetown and pass by the historic Cumberland Chimney, built by Cornish gold miners in the 19th century. As we travel through Croydon, we have to imagine what life was like here during the gold rush days 150 years ago. This was when the town boasted 36 hotels, and by 1900 was the fourth largest town in Queensland. We arrive in Normanton, where we see the classic old Victorian architecture of the Normanton Railway Station. The famous Purple Pub is another landmark, and every visitor gets a photo of Krys the monster crocodile. Other examples of historic buildings are the Burns Philp General Store and the Carpentaria Shire Council Chambers. Tonight, we can enjoy a swim in the pool and an evening together at the Normanton Tourist Park.

Day 4

This morning we head south west towards the Burke & Wills Roadhouse and then in a westerly direction. In the afternoon we arrive at the truly magnificent Lawn Hill Gorge. This is a perfect place for a leisurely swim, or hire a canoe and paddle through the 60 metre high majestic escarpments that tower above the crystal clear water. There are 20 kms of marked walking tracks that we can explore, some of which provide a bird’s eye view of this ancient landscape. There are two Aboriginal art viewing areas, as well as many wildlife species that call Lawn Hill Gorge their home. Our camp site is under the stars.

Day 5

We spend another relaxing day here in Boodjamulla National Park or Lawn Hill, which was gazetted in December 1984, after being a significant cattle grazing property. Just a short 10 kms down the track, we can visit the 30 ha site of Adels Grove, where in 1920, a French botanist, Albert de Lestang, started an experimental area of land growing tropical trees and fruits. Many have not survived the droughts, fires, and termites, but an assortment of trees from Tropical America, Asia and Africa still thrives here. Also, there is a kiosk here to stock up on supplies if required. We enjoy another peaceful evening in the land of the Waanyi people.

Day 6

Today we must reluctantly leave this magical oasis and travel east to the small town of Gregory Downs and then north towards the Gulf of Carpentaria where we will find the administrative centre of the shire, Burketown. This wild old Gulf town has the Albert Hotel, the oldest building in the Gulf. It was originally the Customs House and was built in the late 1860s. The old Post Office is now an information centre, and it was constructed in 1887. The ruins of the old boiling works are just out of town. These were abandoned around 1866 when Gulf Fever struck the area. We also visit the site of “Australia’s First Public Bath House”.  Camping tonight is at the Burketown Caravan Park.

Day 7

The road today takes us across the bottom of the Gulf crossing through the beautiful Leichhardt Falls. Then it’s off towards Normanton again and we make a stop at Camp 119, which was the most northern camp of the ill-fated Burke & Wills expedition in February 1861. We continue towards our stopover at the fishing town of Karumba. This town is the centre of the Gulf’s prawning and barramundi industries and was originally a refuelling and repair centre for the Catalina Flying Boats during WW2. If you wish, you can book a Sunset Cruise, spotting crocodiles and the abundance of bird life here.

Day 8

Today we head north on the Burke Development Road into the Cape where we will make our way through several water crossings that are part of the network of creeks and rivers that feed into the Gulf. There are vast cattle stations in this part of the Cape, and our destination today will be a remote bush campsite on the Mitchell River at Dunbar Station, which covers 777,000 ha or 3000 square miles. We enjoy a bush camp for the evening.

Day 9

This morning we pack up and continue our journey across the Cape. We arrive in the old mining town of Chillagoe around lunch time and set up camp. In the afternoon we enjoy a guided tour of the Chillagoe caves with a National Park Ranger. We can also explore the old museum, cool off at a local swimming hole, or visit Tom Prior’s Classic Ford Collection. At sunset, we visit the ruins of the old smelters before our Dinner that’s provided for us. If you wish you can book on the Observatory Tour where you will get to explore the stars and planets.

Day 10

Today we are heading to the private Kinrara cattle station. We are in for a real treat at this unique location with its working cattle operation. Australian native animals are visible everywhere and there are over 200 bird species to be found here. The sunsets provide a spectacular backdrop for the stunning wetlands here, at the top of the Burdekin River.  For the next two nights we are treated to camping in your very own glamping tent overlooking the magnificent and ever-changing wetlands at Kinrara.  Dinner is provided for us – so we can grab a drink and enjoy the sunset.

Day 11

We wake to a magnificent sunrise in this truly beautiful part of the country. Taking the bulk of the day, we depart mid-morning from camp, winding through dirt tracks stopping for wildlife such as kangaroos, goannas, emu, plain turkey, wild boar, wedge tail and sea eagles, plus countless cattle, and horses. We explore the cattle yards, windmills, watering points and lava and share an outdoor BBQ lunch which is provided for us, beside a swimming hole covered in water lilies. Returning to camp mid-afternoon, guests are welcome to use the kayaks, go for a swim or a walk, or find a comfy spot to rest before watching another magnificent sunset before our farewell dinner, which is provided for us.

Day 12

We head off on our last day and soon pass through the township of Mareeba and call in to see the Heritage Museum. This town once served as a hub for supplying the ever-increasing demands of the Palmer River Goldfields. It was also the centre of a flourishing tobacco industry until only a few years ago. We soon find we are back in the tropical rainforests as we near the coast again. From a spectacular lookout on the Kuranda Range, we can see the sprawling city of Cairns and we realise that our tour is at an end. The fascinating landscapes of the Gulf Savannah with its crystal-clear rivers and vast cattle stations have given us an unforgettable experience.