Barra fishing, the Savannah Way

Yet again we were saying goodbye to relative civilisation for more than a month. From Darwin we head south and then ever east along the little travelled Savannah Way.

But first a quick dip at Berry Springs. This nature reserve is just a short drive from Darwin, and is a large cool and lush springs, surrounded by a recreation reserve. It’s a pretty popular spot on Sunday afternoon. Nevertheless, we had a great time cooling off in the natural springs. The two pools are quite big, so the crowds weren’t too much of a worry.

Kids at Tjaynera Falls - Litchfield NPEveryone raves about Litchfield National Park. Last time we did a flying visit, as we couldn’t venture down the 4WD tracks. This time we visited all the sites, including the lovely (and totally quiet) Tjaynera Falls. It was a 3.5 km return walk, but with a swim at the halfway point, we all did it with ease. There was a little rock ledge at the entry point into the pool, and the kids thought it was fun having a picnic while sitting in the water. Until we were about to leave, we were the only people there.

We really enjoyed Litchfield. It is almost as good as the Kimberly on smaller scale, but easier to access.

A little bit further south to Mataranka, and we turned off the Stuart Highway onto the Savannah Way. This famous route actually stretches all the way from Broome to Cairns, but we missed the first half by travelling via the Gibb River Road. The eastern section we are travelling is mostly unsealed, but is also less travelled, and in much better condition. There are really only a few highlights along the 1000 km or so, but it is a dream road if you are a really keen fisherman, and love eating Barramundi. Mike was determined to hook one at some point, so thus was our mission.

We were forced to stop at Roper Bar for our first night. One of the mounts for the second battery tray sheared, and a repair requiring some welding. We had a bit of a go fishing from the boat ramp and the causeway, but no luck there.

Southern Lost City - Limmen NPAt Limmen National Park, we camped at the Lost City, an interesting rock formation of vertical structures that look like a city landscape. We also visited Butterfly Springs, which is probably great just after the wet, but this late in the season the pool is getting stagnant and low. We did see lots of butterflies though.

One thing we are really noticing now is the build up. The next few months are dreaded by all inhabitants of the top end, as the temperature and humidity slowly start to climb. I was getting use to the 30°C plus every day in dry heat, but now it occasionally reaches 40°C, with increasing moisture in the air. Shady is becoming my favourite adjective when looking at campsite descriptions.

Lorella Springs CampOur first detour off the main road was Lorella Springs. Within the million acre cattle station, there are around 37 natural springs and thermal pools. One of the best was right next to the campsite, so we could cool off at our leisure. During our day out exploring the property, we also visited Emerald Pool, Wildfire gorge, Nudie Springs (I’ll leave you guessing) and Eagles Nest, where the owners have a row boat for visitors to use for fishing. We had a go, had lots of fun, but the fish were not biting.

NT QLD BorderThe next big highlight was crossing into Queensland. We will be here for around four months. Unfortunately, the ‘Welcome to Queensland’ sign was absent, so our only souvenir of the border was a ‘speed limits in Queensland’ sign. I know some of our banana bending friends will find that amusing.

Our second detour off the main drag was to visit Lawn Hill National Park. It was nice, and we had a great time canoeing in the gorge, but it was a bit of an anticlimax compared to previous gorges.Lawn Hill Gorge

It was around this time we started having truck issues. Our rig was having difficulty maintaining a speed above 60km/hour, and Mike was racking his brain trying to find a solution. We managed to chug our way into Karumba for a few days of cleaning, truck diagnostic, fishing and relaxing.

Kris King of Savannah - NormantonFishing Karumba sunsetWhenever Mike opens the bonnet of the truck and spends any length of time peering into the confines, he manages to draw a crowd of interested parties to give their two cents worth. All the old boys had an opinion of what could be wrong and what to check teamed with sympathetic sighs. I love the fact that they are all so willing to help. The general consensus was we had picked up some bad fuel somewhere, so the fuel filter should be changed once we had emptied the tanks. This certainly improved the performance, but we are thinking there is more than one problem to tackle.

But Karumba was great. We saw some great sunsets. Mike caught a fish big enough for a meal, and the truck and van are currently dust and dirt free (kind of). From here on in, there is no more dirt road so I won’t have to ’embrace the dirt’ for the rest of the trip.

Coby holds Black Headed Python at Mt SurpriseHeading east, the sparse savannah woodlands are slowly thickening up with taller, wider and greener trees. We are finally hitting the east coast, a little earlier than expected to get the truck sorted before heading up to the Tip of Oz – Cape York.


4 Responses

  1. we’ve also done the trip around the edges, but not the Gibb river road part. Also, we are a neighbour of Cathy and Bill! This year we started off again, only got to Broome and had an emergency at home and so I flew back, and my husband drove the van back (phew what a trip to do in a hurry on your own). Anyway, we’ll head off again next year, and go to Darwin, and down the middle. Best of luck on the rest of your travels, and if your visiting our neighbour you must pop in to see us too. Happy travels, Sue

  2. Come on, give us a photo or two from nudie springs. Good luck with the next leg. Sounds like it’ll be tough

  3. Is that an offroad Coramal pop top or just a just a standard pop top. How did it handle the Gibb River road

    • Hi There,
      It was an offroad Coromal 546 Pop top. It handled the Gibb very well and indeed much more off road stuff. We are now sorry we sold it.

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