The Savannah Way has camping and accommodation options to suit all travel styles, but for Katie Williams and her tribe, the opportunities to free camp enroute are second to none.
Let’s talk about the famous Savannah Way. So many people have the desire to travel this route which spans from Cairns in Queensland across the tropical savannahs of northern Australia through to Broome in Western Australia. Why? Well, for one, it’s renowned for being a road less travelled.
Secondly, there’s some seriously cool destinations to check out along the way, particularly if you duck off the main Savannah Way route, and hit the alternate routes to explore hidden gems like Lawn Hill Gorge and sections along the Gibb River Road. The Savannah Way screams off-road adventures, particularly because a lot of the route is still unsealed, which is part of its appeal.
Now, driving the Savannah Way route and being immersed in the remote country may call for a little luxury when it comes to choosing your accommodation – and there are options for this – but for us, free camping is a huge part of the attraction. With so many incredible places to pull up camp along the route, we’ve compiled a list of our most memorable free camps and why they left an impact on us.
Routh Creek Free camp (Gulf Developmental Road, Georgetown)
This quiet little site is right next to a creek that provided somewhere croc-free to cool off in the warm weather. The surrounding trees give a real secluded feel, and the star gazing was next level!
Normanton Free Camp (Norman River, Normanton)
A brilliant spot to pull up for a day or two, with free camping permits issued by the Library and Visitor Information Centre. Watching the flow of the river and flicking a few lures around from the bridge next to the sites made this spot worthy of a mention.
Gregory River Free Camp (Mellish Camp area track, Gregory Downs)
With clear, fresh and croc-free running water, this is outback bush camping at its finest! Be sure to plan a day trip into the Boodjamulla National Park (Lawn Hill) while you’re here so you can experience kayaking and trekking around the stunning gorge.
Robinson River/ Kangaroo Creek (Carpentaria Hwy)
This somewhat barren area is rife with wild animals – from horses and kangaroos to birds and crocodiles. You’ll feel like you’re the only person on the planet as you relax by the creek taking in the sounds of the wildlife around you.
Saddle Creek Rest Area (Victoria Hwy, Baines)
These sites surrounded by stunning rugged escarpment and some of the friendliest butterflies we’ve ever met, have a real ‘country and western’ movie feel. An incredible area to enjoy a campfire and watch the rocky ranges change colour as the sun sets.
Spring Creek free camp (Great Northern Hwy, Ord River)
With a handful of shaded sites down the back on the river bed and some sturdy trees perfect for a rope swing, this camp stuck in our minds because it was so lush and green! The entrance to the Bungle Bungles is not too far away, making this spot perfect for those wanting to day trip into the National Park.
Ngumban Cliffs Free Camp (Great Northern Hwy, Mueller Ranges)
For the landscape lovers, this is a magical spot for sunset over the range. It is peaceful, serene and provided the clearest night skies we have seen! We were treated to an incredible lightning show off in the distance that we’ll never forget.
Tips for your Savannah Way adventure
- Take plenty of water! There is little to no potable water available at the free camp sites.
- Let someone know your planned route, and rough timeframe for check in – as phone reception has a lot of blackspots out there.
- Get tyre pressures right for road conditions – we dropped ours to around 30Psi in our vehicle and caravan. The larger tyre footprint helps take the shock out of the corrugations in the road.
- Stay informed on road closures/weather conditions. Speak to information desks to ask conditions on the roads as there can be deep creek crossings that rise quickly after rain.
- Plan your fuel. Generally 300kms between fuel stops, however if you plan on going off route to explore gorges and other areas you may need additional fuel.
- Plan food stops – the aboriginal town Doomadgee with the charity supermarket: go support them as it was a great supermarket (reasonably priced) and all proceeds go straight back into the community.
- Be croc wise – You’re in croc country the whole way across the Savannah Way!