Nanny's Retreat Waterhole at Lorella Springs Wilderness Park.

Searching along the Savannah Way

Leichardt Falls.
Canoeing through Lawn Hill Gorge.
Lookout over Lawn Hill Gorge.
Southern Lost City.

THE Savannah Way has many different options and locations to explore as it runs along the Gulf Country.
It’s mostly dirt from Normanton through to the Roper River.
I could literally write a book about this place, as there are so many things to see and do.
One of our favourite free camps was Leichardt Falls, at the top of the Leichardt River.
This is a beautiful free camp where you can pull up alongside the falls, however, you need to travel through soft sand in spots, so it’s important to let your tyre pressures down because a lot of people who don’t get stuck.
We also came across many flat rocky sections where we could stop to gain momentum.
Not only do you have this beautiful waterfall, but little rockpools above it are great for a swim away from the crocs.
The kids had an absolute ball, as after the huge wet in the Gulf of Carpentaria region the river had created massive sand dunes where they could play for hours.
From here we were off to Lawn Hill National Park, which in my opinion is a must do, whether you have an off-road van like us and are able to tow it into the park via the Savannah Way, or as many others do, come up from the Barkly Highway into Gregory Downs, which is all bitumen.
They would leave their vans at Gregory Downs and do the last 60km of dirt in their vehicles only.
At the time we went into Lawn Hill National Park, the dirt road from Gregory Downs to the National Park was severely corrugated.
It was really important to drop tyre pressures in the vehicle and van and take time to reduce any damage on the rough roads.
Lawn Hill was truly epic, with amazing walks (hikes) to have a look over the rugged country.
The gorge and waterfalls are an absolute oasis in the middle of nowhere.
We hired a canoe and paddled up the gorge.
The huge red cliffs come down to the waterline and, being quite narrow, truly were spectacular.
Once you get to the top of the first waterhole, a series of waterfalls comes in and it makes a great place for a dip because only freshwater crocodiles are in these waterholes.
From here is a canoe slide where you can drag the canoe about 100m up into the next section of the gorge and continue to paddle.
It really is beautiful and you paddle through some really narrow sections all the way to the top where you find a nice little run where all the archerfish seem to congregate and follow your canoe back downstream and out of the run.
We saw many fish in the gorge including barramundi, sooty grunter, sleepy cod, bony bream and heaps and heaps of archerfish, but unfortunately no fishing is allowed.
The archerfish were amazing and really entertained the kids as they were sitting on the rocks whirling a waterlily flower and the archerfish were spitting water at the flower trying to knock it out of their hands.
The kids thought it was fantastic fun.
Lawn Hill campgrounds can be booked out months in advance, so if you are thinking about planning a trip there, book a site as soon as you can.
They had toilets and cold showers and the rangers were very helpful.
If Lawn Hill National Park is booked out, then Adels Grove 20km down the road is your next best option at more than twice the price of the national park.
However, we found plenty of shady camp areas down beside the creek in ‘the grove’ and nice swimming holes with fishing allowed.
From here we decided to take the shortcut through Lawn Hill Station back to the Savannah Way, with a couple of creek crossings at the beginning and plenty of cows and bulldust.
A really worthwhile drive, with amazing scenery throughout the station.
From here we had a few nice free camps just west of Hells Gate at the Hann Billabong and the Calvert River Crossing, where we caught up with one of our friends for the night.
Then it was across to Borroloola in the Northern Territory to catch up on washing and stock up on supplies, then on to one of our favourite places along the Savannah Way, Lorella Springs Wilderness Park.
What an awesome off-road adventure Lorella Springs offers.
It is a million-acre cattle property in the Gulf that has opened its gates to tourists and those running it do a really great job.
Not only were they friendly when we checked in but informative regarding what the place had to offer.
There was a lot to see, with numerous gorges, swimming holes and hot springs.
It also provided access out to Rosie Creek and the Gulf.
One of our favourite spots at Lorella was Nannys Retreat, which was an amazing swimming hole between two cliffs.
If you climbed one of the cliffs you got a great perspective of how huge the property was and how diverse the terrain was, with sheer rock pillars, Bungle Bungle-looking rocks and huge expanses of ironbark forests.
It really was beautiful.
There was also a cave you could climb through that the wet seasons had carved out of the sandstone.
After a day of four-wheel-driving out to these locations on the property, it was nice to swim in the hot spring adjacent to the homestead and wait for the bell to be rung for happy hour drinks.
We would then wander up and have a nice cold beer.
Life really doesn’t get any better.
Being so remote, you need to be self-sufficient because there is no power or water.
They did have toilets and hot donkey showers.
For those who aren’t familiar with a donkey shower, it is basically a fabricated or modified drum that water runs through, with a fire built underneath to heat it.
The showers and toilet were quite rustic and really gave you that Outback station feel.
It was wonderful having a hot shower and looking up at the stars!
It makes you think the simple things in life are all you really need.
Make sure you take plenty of fuel when you go to Lorella Springs because you use a lot of fuel 4WDing and exploring.
You can buy fuel at Lorella for $3 a litre (ouch!), but you can expect that for the logistics of getting it there.
As we left Lorella and headed further west, we stopped at Butterfly Falls.
The falls weren’t running but it was still a beautiful place to have lunch or spend a night or two.
From here we went to Southern Lost City, which was spectacular, the walking trail through it was incredible, as was the lookout on top.
I thoroughly recommend you spend a day and check it out because it really makes your mind boggle.
We continued out via the Roper to the Stuart Highway, concluding our Savannah Way journey.
These were a few of our favourite places along the Savannah Way.
You can find lots of fishing opportunities along there but we found some of these places had been heavily netted and commercially fished, so we tended to give them a wide berth, instead looking for more fruitful fishing locations.
Our Savannah Way experience was a great couple of weeks.
We loved every minute of it and the roads were quite good, except for the last 300km from Lorella through to the Roper, which was heavily corrugated.
I hope you enjoyed our article and get your own chance to explore the Savannah Way and some of our favourite spots, as well as finding some of your own.
Until next month.


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