Savannah Way loop and our very favourite campsite of the trip!

We were heading north on the Stuart Highway towards Mataranka when Steve got this great idea.   Instead of a 3 hour drive straight up the Stuart Highway, how about a 1 week side trip?   So we turned right and left the nice paved road for a long, mostly rough and dusty loop around the Savannah Way. Much more interesting!

savanna way detour

Our first night out, we camped on a gorgeous ridge top free camp just off the road. Nobody drives on this road at night and few even during the day, so it was just quiet with birdsong and beautiful views of the bush then a million stars.

Ridgetop camp
Expansive views over the bush at the ridgetop free campsite on the Carpentaria highway.
bing bong
Can you believe there is a place called Bing Bong?

We had a brief stop in Borroloola for fuel and a barramundi burger for lunch. We are thrilled to be back in the barramundi zone, which just happens to be our favourite fish. Barramundi zone= crocodile zone though, so now you have to think before you jump in a body of water. We also had a look at the local museum. Borroloola was memorable for having dozens of kite hawks flying low over the town streets. Wherever you looked up they were there.Borroloola museum

macarthur river
Borroloola is on the Macarthur River full of  crocs and barramundi. We stopped here at the boat ramp for a cup of tea after lunch.


We camped the next night at the lovely Caranbirini Conservation Reserve. This had a gorgeous waterhole complete with bird hide and some ‘lost city’ rock formations to walk around. We spent dusk and dawn at the waterhole’s birdhide and had a walk through the rock formations which were interesting. We had the place all to ourselves.

caranbarini bird hide

waterlily caranbirini
The water lilys were beautiful!

caranbirini reserve sign

inside the bird hide caranbirini
View from the bird hide.

caranbirini waterhole

tree growing on the rock
Trees growing on the rock formations with no water nearby. It’s a wonder they survive!
lost city 1
“Lost city” rock formations. There were an amazing amount of birds in between the rocks on the few trees growing there.


lost city 5
The walk took us through narrow gaps in the rocks.


lost city 4lost city 3

Then we hit the dirt again! The nice thing about heading north into Savanannah country was there was more and more water, more trees and green and more birds. We love the desert areas but it was nice to be in more moist environment again and be able to swim. Swims now mean you must check for crocs. You can swim with freshwater crocs after scaring them away. It is the saltwater crocs you need to be aware of and avoid the water in these areas.

limmen NP sign

road to limmen NP
We love the wide open roads with big views as you drive along. Driving along a stretch of the Savannah Way on Nathan River Road.
lorella springs gate
The road into Lorella Springs was rough with bull dust holes and felt very long after the dirt of the Nathan River Rd. There were signs on the trees every few kms to encourage you not to give up. FOOD, FUEL, FISHING, COMFY BEDS, CAMPING, HEATED THERMAL POOL,MEALS, PETS ALLOWED,BAR, BIRDWATCHING, NOT FAR TO GO Etc. This was the last- 1km to go.
lorella springs sign
Finally made it! It was paradise too!

First stop was Lorella Springs Wilderness park. It is a million acre family owned station that is no longer a working cattle farm, though there were a few cows around as well as the odd water buffalo. There were plenty of gates to open and close as you drove around the property however. Like Adel’s Grove it was a bit pricey at $20 per person per night. $3 litre of diesel, $5 for 2litres of milk and $8 for a bag of chips! There was no fuel for another 500kms so we had to buy some there unfortunately. We did find our very favourite camp spot of the whole trip here. The property went right to the coast and was very popular with fisherman. It was full of 4WD roads that led to beautiful water holes all over the property. We saw only off-road caravans or camper trailers/tents here as the road to get in is rough. You can camp anywhere on the million acres but as the roads were pretty rough on the property most people camped at the campground and went out into the park during the day. It was a beautiful campground with a hot water spring to soak in. After 2 nights in the campground where you had to hear people’s barking dogs and generators we found an easy access camp that we had to ourselves that was our favourite of the whole trip so far. We called it our billabong and we stayed 5 nights at Lorella Springs we loved it so much.

stock camp billabong camp view
This was our view laying in bed! We loved this place! The birdsong was amazing! The caravan works very well as a bird hide too! A huge sea eagle swooped in each morning and waited on the paperbark tree.
lorella springs camp
When you get too hot just jump into your private pool!
billabong camp
This is what our camp looked like if you were a croc! Cooking a lentil bolognese for dinner with the birds singing away all around me!

little croc lorella

fresh water croc lorella springs
No this was not in our billabong although we were told there could be some. I did splash the water a lot when I got in though. This little “freshie” lived at the homestead and was fed, along with the barramundi and the turtle.
dawn at billabong camp
Dawn at “our” billabong
kayak frog
The kayak resident frog. He also liked our grey water bucket.
low power
Only downside to camping under the trees for days. Our power dropped so low we needed to use the generator for a couple of hours to top it back up. Below 25 and we lose all power. Only the second time we have had to use it on this trip. We don’t like generator noise but at least nobody else had to hear ours.
resource management vehicle
Don’t you just love farm vehicles. This was the garbage truck!

This Emu hung around the homestead along with the cooks and peacock. It would walk right up to you, but if you had no food it was not interested in staying still for a photo. We spent the 5 days driving around the 4wd roads to get to nice waterholes. This is what it looked like.

rough road lorella springs
Steve having fun in low range. These are just farm roads so not too smooth.
nannys retreat
Nanny’s retreat was a bit too rough a walk in for a Nanny we thought.
nannys cave
There was a cave full of micro bats nearby to check out too.
new car
Looking for a new car? This old toyota available.
water buffalo catcher
A water buffalo catching vehicle.
creek crossing Lorella Springs
I never like driving through water. It just feels wrong to drive the dirty car though pristine waters.
another rough road lorella springs
No easy roads on the property
steve on snapping handbag billabong
Steve looking for birds on “snapping handbag billabong”. They get the largest concentration of crocs on this spot at the end of the dry season.
helicopterpool 2
Helicopter pool
helicopter pool panorama
Helicopter pool
walk to helicopter pool
We were walking from one pool to the next and sometimes just bush walked in our swimmers. I think we were wet for 8 hours, but in 34deg this was lovely.
lorella wallaby
Always nice to see a native. This wallaby drinking at the road crossing. Not impressed with us driving through it’s drinking spot and who could blame it.
fern gully waterhole
Ferny Gully Pool. It was hard to choose as they were all beautiful but this was our favourite. it was hard to find, so think not many people went there.

maddy at fern gullyfern gully panorama

checking for crocs
They say you send your wife or the kids through to walk the road first and lookout for crocs.
fern gully tree on rock
The impossible tree at Ferny Gully Pool
paddle on gateway gorge
Having a paddle at gateway gorge
gateway gorge lo
Look out at gateway gorge.
cow at lorella
This cow was NOT moving off the road!
new pool
“New pool”
fish at new pool
New pool fish exfoliation. They loved foot calluses!


native hibuscus
Native hibiscus on the trail.
cascades pool
Lunch spot
dry swamp
The worst wet in 17 yrs and this “Swamp” is a lawn and the canoe high and dry! Normally a bird watchers spot.
ink spot pools
Ink spot pool. It was here sitting on this ledge after a swim a water buffalo came up to get in and then suddenly spotted us and turned around.
water buffalo
it stared at us for quite awhile before hightailing it out of there!

water buffalo 2

We saw the buffalo or another later on the road. Steve got out and did the Crocodile Dundee move from the film, as a joke and surprisingly the thing ran away!

teardrop pool
Tear drop pool had a warm gentle shower to get under.
middle teardrop pool
You could climb up to the middle pool above.
upper teardrop pool
Then climb some more to the pool above that!
frogpoles at upper teardrop
Which was full of tadpoles. Hopefully not cane toads but they were pretty ugly ones.
hanging garden pool
Hanging garden plunge pool



4 thoughts on “Savannah Way loop and our very favourite campsite of the trip!

    1. Hi Helen, Hope you are enjoying a husband break while Ian in living it up in the south pacific. No cleaning or cooking! Not too much garden work either. Yay! M


    1. Hi,

      Yes, its a rough road to get there, but we think you should do it one day. Great birds and pools. Make sure you get there just after the wet as we heard that many of the pools dry up later in the year.



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