The Savannah Way- Cairns to Katherine – Part 1 of 2

Day 1

After just over a week in Cairn’s we started our Savannah Way adventure today, finally turning west. We headed up onto the tablelands again and stopped at Davis Creek Mountain Bike Park to hit the beautiful wilderness single track. There are 6 trails in the Lamb range and we both said, its one of the most beautiful MTB tracks we have ever done as the scenery is so varied through granite outcrops and forests of she-oks, grass trees and cycads.

From the trail head we rode track 1. Which is an easy trail with a little ascent to the start of trail 2 and the intermediate section of the park. It’s a short climb to trail 3, which is the most difficult of the tracks, with some loose technical drop offs, optional difficult sections and tight switch backs. I loved trail 4 the best as it was fast flowing with amazing scenery. The end of 4 then joins back on trail 1 and you have the option to ride trail 5 again and then 7 further down. We decided just to stayed on 1 and then headed to Jaques Coffee Plantation for a well earned coffee and a scone.

Top Tip: For MTB pick up the Ride Cairns booklet, which also covers the Smithfield Trails and Atherton Tableland and Port Douglas Trails and there is also a Mountain Bike Guide produced by Queensland National Parks for Biking in North Queensland. We used this for navigation, but the trails are well signposted.

We headed straight to Undara after coffee, set up and then after dinner went to the bar and had drinks at Undara Central. The meals looked excellent here and the place has been beautifully developed with its 27 rail carriages forming the bar and restaurant as well as accommodation. They have Opera in October events as well as Rock and Blues concerts. Having now finished the Savannah Way, we both said we would have liked to have eaten here.

Top Tip: Book well in advance for the Undara experience, we just managed to get on a tour, but it wasn’t the one we wanted. All however are brilliant. We spoke to other travellers who missed out on this attraction as its so busy. Writing this I’m looking at the camping availability and there are only a few single nights avalaible for the next two months.

Day 2

Undara Volcanic National Park

This morning we headed into Undara Volcanic National Park and climbed to the crater rim of Kalkani volcano. Its just a short 2.5km hike and a 20 minute drive to get to the start of the hike. There are amazing views and it feels pretty cool to circumnavigate the crater.

Once back at the campsite we jumped on our bikes and explored the paths around the resort. We did Flat Rocks-Circle View track riding next to swamps with an array of bird life as well as Red Tailed Black Cocktoos circling noisily above us. We then joined the Swamp Track until it met the Pioneer Track and headed back to get ready for our 3.30pm Lava Tubes tour.

The tour was superb and our guide excellent. I had never seen lava tubes before and was amazed by the formations created under just the right conditions. High volumes over a long period of time of slow flowing magma. The arch and then caves the tubes create are stunning. We did the Arches Tour, although we would have preferred the adventure tour, however we were lucky to just get on this one and each tour you get to explore the amazing lava tubes.

Download the National Park Information here.

Day 3

Today was predominantly a travel day, stopping at Historic Croydon at lunch time for an hour and a half to look around the heritage buildings. This is well worth a stop, it is a free attraction. Make sure you go into the old court and hear the audio presentation on Mrs Brown’s drunk and disorderly charge (no relation to Richard’s mum we don’t think!). We also stopped by an old settlement, where there was once a thriving community but now only a chimney remains.

The beautiful Levindault Lagoon was the camp for night with amazing sunsets. The homestead across the lagoon on some evenings does dinners! They must be good as the campsite completely emptied as everyone headed there.

Day 4

Adel Grove

This was a full travel day to Adel Grove with a quick lunch stop at Gregory Downs and a coffee stop at the side of the road. We crossed some beautiful rivers and creeks with the majority of the road surface unsealed. Adel Grove has a range of accommodation and facilities and we spent the evening in the bar listening to bush poems by Bill Kearns. The lady reading them was brilliant. She did it all from memory. The meals here are canteen style with a dish of the day served on the deck. We didn’t have dinner here, but if you do you need to book before 3pm.

Top Tip: If you want to stay  at Lawn Hill  (Boodjamulla National Park) book well in advance, there are only 14 sites which fill up fast. Adel Grove is only 15 minutes from the park and has lotsa of facilities.

Day 5

Adel Grove/Lawn Hill National Park

We spent the morning in the National Park setting off early to do the 7km hike to the Upper Gorge lookout walking back via the Indarri lookout and the stunning waterfalls and Duwadarri lookout. We followed this with exploring the Eastern Gorge doing the shorter Island Stacks and Cascasdes walk. It was back to Adels Grove for lunch and then a refreshing dip in the river, floating down stream through he Lilly’s on rubber rings.  This whole national park is stunning, the river a mesmerising deep bright green and the rock formations and trees beautiful.

Day 6

Adel Grove/Lawn Hill National Park

After hiking yesterday, today we kayaked 6km up the gorge, heading up stream along the first gorge to Indarri falls, before portageing into second gorge and up to the walls of waterfalls. This area was full of fish that liked to swim with the kayak and we even saw a freshwater Long Tom. We didn’t see any crocs, but others did see them swimming here, the freshwater crocs  are harmless or so we have been told! On the way back down we swam at the falls and then paddled back down the gorgeous green waters passing cabbage palms and dramatic towering rock faces. We spent the afternoon relaxing on the deck at Adel Grove drinking coffee.

Download the National Park information here 

Loved Part 1? Checkout Part 2 in Northern Territory.

Sarah x

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