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Tour 1: Gulf Savannah Tour – Cairns to Darwin

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10-26 May, 2021 (17 days)
Tour Details
Tour 1: 10-26 May, 2021

This is a NEW itinerary as of 26/1/2021.  We have chosen to run another Gulf Savannah tour this year, instead of trying to do the Kimberley due to WA’s strict border laws.  This page has recently been updated with a NEW itinerary!

This tour has been custom built to incorporate the best of the Northern Territory and Gulf Savannah!  Our Kimberley & NT guide and other secret informants have helped us create a unique itinerary visiting some of the most mind-blowing places in the Top End!  Departing from Cairns and heading to Darwin, highlights include Kakadu & Litchfield National Park, The Lost City, Lorella Springs, Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park, Karumba, the Gulflander Train and the world famous Undara Lava Tubes!

Ensure to read the itinerary to see what secrets lie within!  Remember we are limited to 15 seats per tour and WE SELL OUT every year! 

All itineraries are subject to change due to unexpected conditions, circumstances or driver’s decision based on what is best for the group.

Gulf Savannah Itinerary

Departure & Return Locations

Hop On:     Cairns

Hop Off:     Darwin

Prices

These are incredibly special tour prices!  Being our first tour to the region we want to provide our first clients with a unique experience and we would love help to get the word out there!  We have an experienced Kimberley & Northern Territory guide on board, so the tour will be of the highest standard. 

There is $700 + of outsourced tours ALONE included in this price.  We are against taking commission for tours, so all group discounts and commissions have been waived so we can give you the best price possible!  This is Australia and we want fair dinkum experiences without the rort!

$4,100

Standard booking

Price Includes
  • Tented accommodation
  • Breakfast, lunch & dinner *see itinerary for BYO (Buy Your Own) meals
  • Sleeping equipment (tall tent, quality mattress, sheets/blanket, pillow)
  • Additional tours & expeditions *see itinerary
  • All entrance fees to National Parks, Ferries & Caravan parks
  • Customised experience of the Top End
Highlights
What to expect

Cockatours is a family owned business who aim to create unforgettable experiences for everyone. We would love to share our experience and knowledge of the remote top end of Australia with you and show you places, experiences and wildlife you never thought existed!  We run smaller tours with a maximum 15 people so it still feels private and we expect everyone to be friendly, kind and work together as a team to create a positive experience for all. 

As a small business, we have the ability to be flexible and use this as an advantage for creating great experiences and adventures. Tours are subject to change due to roads, conditions and the guide’s decision to best suit the group. 

If you decide to join us on an adventure, please note the following:

  • Be prepared for true bush camps; some have no facilities – we have a bush toilet and shower for these occasions
  • Tented accommodation; easy peasy to erect!
  • Team work; everyone helps clean, cook, pack & set up
  • We are renowned for our amazing camp meals!
  • We have limited access to stores/shops
  • We have a great reputation to uphold and endeavour to provide an amazing tour every time!
Tour specific notes
  • Bring water bottles (or small backpacks with bladders) with a capacity up to 3L for some of the hikes. Staying hydrated in the tropics is critical to feeling good, avoiding headaches and enjoying your tour!
  • You must have hiking shoes (preferably with ankle support) for this tour. If you are an experienced hiker/bushwalker, go with what you normally wear and are comfortable with. You will also need wet shoes for 2 tours, these may be the same as your hiking shoes if you choose.
  • Please bring a head lamp with you. They will save you an enormous amount of angst at night time around camp. You will also need them for cave walks. We have a couple of models we recommend and stock in our ‘truck shop’ for $30-40. Clients in the past have replaced their BCF specials with these and been stoked with them. We make no profit on these, we just want our clients to fully enjoy their camping experience!
  • There are lots of walks on these tours. You never have to do a walk, however, to make the most of this trip, completing all (non-optional) walks is highly recommended. We would highly recommend a basic level of fitness or starting morning/afternoon walks at home before this tour commences. This Northern Territory Walks & Hikes Page provides details on a few of the walks we me do in the NT.
Your Guides
  • Your driver and guide is none other than Cockatours owner, Rossy. Rossy is an ecologist, photographer & speaker. He grew up in Bamaga (the Tip) and has lived & worked in Cape York for several years running feral pig & sea turtle projects with Indigenous Ranger groups. His connections & relationships throughout the Cape will make your tour that little bit more special and you will see it first hand throughout the tour! You can read more about him in our 'About Us' section.
  • In 2021, our awesome professional chef, Courtney, otherwise known as 'Jeff' (the Chef) returns! We were already known for our amazing meals, but Courtney has turned it up a level with her phenomenal cooking skills! She came on a tour with us in 2019 and was so well received by our clients we had to bring her back in 2020 and she's back for 2021! You will see her on our Cape York & Gulf Savannah tours in 2021. She has an awesome personality, loves a laugh and has adventure running through her veins!
Cape York Guides at the tip
Courtney & Rossy
Itinerary
All itineraries are subject to change due to unexpected conditions, circumstances or driver's decision based on what is best for the group.

Day 1Cairns > Undara

Camp: Camp Ground (facilities available)
Meals: L, D
Activities: Undara Lava Tubes Experience (Undara Volcanic National Park), Bluff Walk lookout for sunset.
Hiking Shoes/Togs: No. Yes.

Starting from the stunning coastal city of Cairns in Far North Queensland, we begin pickups around 7am. We then take off up over the Great Dividing Range and into the Atherton Tablelands. We will stop on the way for a picnic lunch, before heading off to get into camp early on day 1. This afternoon you will explore the majestic Undara Lava Tubes with excellent interpretation from a local Savannah Guide. This evening we will head up the hill from camp to watch our first sunset as a group, over the stunning plains of Undara. This walk is an easy 1.5 km return walk.

Day 2Undara > Karumba

Camp: Camp Ground (facilities available)
Meals: B, L. Dinner out (our shout)
Activities: Gulflander Train, Blackbull Station, Normanton, Karumba Sunset Dinner Cruise.
Hiking Shoes/Togs: No. No.

This morning we cover some distance, heading west across the Savannah Way. We’ll pop into the old Blackbull Railway Station, before dropping you off at Critters Camp to jump on the Gulflander Train. On your journey to Normanton, the operator will share with you an amazing history of this rail line from “nowhere to nowhere”, built in the late 1800s. We will pick you up later in Normanton and head into Karumba. We wrap up our day with a sensational 2-hour sunset dinner cruise in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The cruise pulls in at Sand Island and you can dine on freshly cooked gulf prawns, nibble on fruit & nibbles platters and enjoy your favourite frosty beverage or three!

Day 3Karumba > Leichardt Falls

Camp: Bush Camp (no facilities)
Meals: B,L,D.
Activities: Burke & Wills Camp 119, Barramundi Info Centre & Hatchery, Leichardt Falls.
Hiking Shoes/Togs: No. No.

If you haven’t realised yet, every day is jam packed with excitement! In Karumba this morning, we visit the Barramundi Info Centre & Hatchery for a tour. Here hundreds of thousands of barramundi hatchlings are reared for restocking purposes. The architecture at this facility alone is worth visiting it for! We get back on the Savannah Way, heading west and stop at Camp 119, the northern-most point of the ill-fated Burke & Wills expedition. We then make our way to a stunning bush camp at Leichardt Falls and at this time of year the falls are bound to be pumping! With a nice short day today, getting in early to relax and setup will be ideal!

Day 4Leichardt Falls > Boodjamulla NP (Lawn Hill/Adels Grove)

Camp: National Park Camp Ground (facilities available)
Meals: B,L,D
Activities: Burketown shopping, Boodjamulla NP.
Hiking Shoes/Togs: No. No.

We have broken this day up to make it a more relaxing and enjoyable day. First, we head into Burketown to do a little shopping and exploring. Then we are off towards the stunning Boodjamulla National Park, where we will stay for 2 nights!

Day 5Boodjamulla NP (Lawn Hill/Adels Grove) Explore Day

Camp: National Park Camp Ground (facilities available)
Meals: B,L,D
Activities: Riversleigh Fossil Deposit, Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) Gorge – kayaking & river cruise. Several easy walks around camp.
Hiking Shoes/Togs: Yes. Yes.

Today we have a few exciting activities up our sleeve. We start the day by heading 45 mins south to the world-famous Riversleigh Fossil Site #4. Here we take a short, easy walk through the fossil trail. David Attenborough is quoted as saying this site is one of four of the most important fossil deposits on the planet. Whilst the fossils aren’t huge, the sheer number of fossils here has helped describe and fill in many gaps in our archaeological understanding.

Heading back to Lawn Hill, you will have plenty of time to hire a kayak near camp and paddle up the gorge to the first set of cascades. There are some stunning walks here, including Indarri lookout, a perfect point to view the cascades from above. In the afternoon we will take a relaxed 1-hour cruise in the gorge. On the day we may shuffle these depending on what works best.

Day 6Boodjamulla NP > Hell’s Gate

Camp: Camp Ground (facilities available)
Meals: B,L,D
Activities: Hell’s Gates
Hiking Shoes/Togs: No. No.

Today we weave our way through some more stunning outback & station roads towards Hell’s Gates. This afternoon we might take a peek at Hell’s Gates as the sun sinks into the horizon.

Day 7Hell’s Gate > Cape Crawford

CCamp: Camp Ground (facilities available)
Meals: B,L,D
Activities: Transit day. Borroloola shopping. Calvert & Robinson River crossings.
Hiking Shoes/Togs: Yes. Yes.

Today is a transit day on some stunning outback roads that run parallel to the Gulf of Carpentaria. We stop in at Borroloola to do some shopping and you can grab a coffee here at the Red Dirt cafe if you like! We cross two beautiful rivers today; the Calvert & Robinson Rivers. Tonight we make camp at the popular Heartbreak Hotel.

Day 8Cape Crawford > Lorella Springs

Camp: Station Camp Ground (facilities available)
Meals: B,L,D
Activities: Southern Lost City, Lorella Springs.
Hiking Shoes/Togs: Yes. Yes.

Today is a relaxed transit day, pulling into Lorella Springs in the early afternoon. On the way, we visit the stunning sandstone formations that make up the Southern Lost City. An easier accessed site, this one is well worth the visit!

Day 9Lorella Springs Explore Day

Camp: Station Camp Ground (facilities available)
Meals: B,L. Dinner out (BYO)
Activities: Lorella Springs: waterfalls, walks and explore!
Hiking Shoes/Togs: Yes. Yes.

Today is our opportunity to explore the many wonders of Lorella Springs. This station has several stunning waterfalls, swimming holes and hikes. Closer to the date we will check with the owner to confirm what tracks are open and what our best options for swimming and exploring are! Tonight we will treat ourselves and head to the station house for dinner!

Day 10Lorella Springs > Munbililla

Camp: National Park Camp Ground (facilities available)
Meals: B,L,D
Activities: Western Lost City, Butterfly Falls, Towns River Crossing, Lomarieum Lagoon wildlife & bird spotting, Roper Bar, Limmen NP.
Hiking Shoes/Togs: Yes. Yes.

Today we start the day by visiting the gorgeous Butterfly Falls. We stretch our legs at the pretty Towns River Crossing and, depending on road conditions, head down the sandy track to see the Western Lost City. Nudging deeper north into Limmen NP today, we pull into Lomarieum Lagoon to do a little wildlife & bird spotting. A stunning lagoon filled with water lilies, it bares resemblance to many of the lagoons in Rinyirru (Lakefield, Qld) & Kakadu National park. Tonight we camp not far from Roper Bar, the famous crossing point of Leichardt’s overland party in 1845.

Day 11Munbililla > Mataranka

Camp: Caravan Park Camp Ground (facilities available)
Meals: B,L,D
Activities: Elsey Cemetery & Homestead, Mataranka Springs, Bitter Springs (thermal pools)
Hiking Shoes/Togs: Yes. Yes.

Heading west towards Mataranka we pull in to have a look at Roper Bar. This afternoon we visit the Elsey Cemetery & Homestead (an immaculate replica), based off the 1982 film ‘We of the Never Never’. From here we can stroll down to Mataranka Springs for a look. But tonight, we camp right near the more natural, and stunning Bitter Springs. From camp you can stroll down the road and soak your body in the hot thermal pools!

Day 12Mataranka > Katherine

Camp: Camp Ground (facilities available)
Meals: B,L,D
Activities: Top Didj Cultural experience, Indigenous painting & spear throwing lesson, Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge National Park, Nitmiluk Gorge cruise.
Hiking Shoes/Togs: Yes. No.

Today we make the short drive to Katherine, where we pop into Top Didj Cultural Experience & Art Centre. Here we have a unique cultural tour! A local Traditional Owner will guide you through creating a painting of your own. You will also learn how to throw a spear under his careful tutelage! We then head into Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge National Park and finish the day off with a 2-hour Nitmiluk Gorge cruise. We watch the sun slowly drop as we cruise through the gorge, listening to all the wonderful sounds of the local wildlife.

Day 13Katherine > Cooinda

Camp: Camp Ground (facilities available)
Meals: B,L,D
Activities: Kakadu NP, Maguk Falls, Gunlom Falls, Yellow Waters sunset cruise.
Hiking Shoes/Togs: Yes. Yes.

A nice cruisy day today, we head north from Katherine and into Kakadu National Park! On our way in, we check out the breathtaking Gunlom Falls, with a natural infinity pool with postcard worthy views across the Kakadu Plains. Our next set of falls we walk into – the stunning Maguk Falls, a waterfall that pours over the steep gorge walls into a stunning plunge pool below. Today we finish the day with the world famous ‘Yellow Waters’ sunset cruise!

Day 14Cooinda (Kakadu Explore Day)

Camp: Camp Ground (facilities available)
Meals: B,L. BYO Dinner.
Activities: Injalak Hill, Cultural Tour, Gunbalanya Arts centre & meet the artists, Ubirr Rock.
Hiking Shoes/Togs: Yes. No.

With an early start (no tent pack down today), this morning we walk a hill to one of the most picturesque views in the NT at Injalak Hill. Our Indigenous guide will take us on a cultural tour and on our return we pop into the visitors centre. Here you can view the local artwork and meet and mingle with the artists. This afternoon on our way back to camp we head to the stunning Ubirr Rock. This evening we enjoy a dinner out together.

Day 15Cooinda > Batchelor (Litchfield NP)

Camp: Camp Ground (facilities available)
Meals: B,L,D
Activities: Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) Rock Art, Visitor Centre, Pudakul Aboriginal Cultural Tour
Hiking Shoes/Togs: Yes. No.

This morning we use the cool of the morning to explore the Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) Rock Art site. We stop in at the local visitor centre, before heading west. We get taught some amazing culture, traditions and crafts at Pudakul Aboriginal Cultural Tours. After the tour we head towards Litchfield NP, camping just on the outskirts.

Day 16Batchelor > Crab Claw Island

Camp: Camp Ground (facilities available)
Meals: B,L,D (Our shout)
Activities: Litchfield NP, Buley Rockhole, Wangi Falls, termite mounds, group dinner out.
Hiking Shoes/Togs: Yes. No.

Without wasting any time, we head straight to the action at Litchfield National Park! Litchfield is a stunning National Park in the NT’s north-west, rich with stunning waterfalls that plunge into magical swimming holes! We pull in to check out and swim at Buley Rockhole & Wangi Falls & and pass by some amazing & very picturesque termite mounds! We slowly wind through Litchfield NP, and pull into camp by the ocean at Crab Craw Island. Tonight we celebrate and enjoy a meal out as a group.

Day 17Crab Claw Island > Darwin

Camp: N/A
Meals: B,L
Activities: Top End Safari Camp, croc feeding, air boat tour, helicopter flight over floodplains, Sweet’s Lagoon boat cruise
Hiking Shoes/Togs: Yes. No.

It’s the last day and Crikey Mick it’s a special one! We head to Top End Safari Camp, owned by NT celebrity Matt Wright. Here you go on airboat tour through famous Sweet’s Lagoon, as well as a larger boat cruise. You will witness the massive rescue being fed before being flown over the floodplains in a helicopter. Now that’s going out with a bang! Hesitantly we board Zeus and head to the big smoke of Darwin, to wrap up the tour. Drop offs today can be expected around 5pm.

Map
Map of Darwin to Cairns Gulf Savannah Tour
The Truck
Cockatours tour bus and trailer
Tour Truck at Camp with people relaxing

Our 18-seater tour truck, Zeus, takes us on all our adventures. He is equipped with very comfortable seating perfect for off-road driving, a sound system with microphones for those who love karaoke and plenty of storage. The air-conditioning works extremely well and the tinted windows in the cab help keep the glare & heat out! Our trailer is our portable kitchen with even more storage which is perfect for any event; short/long term camping trips, weekend getaways, the list goes on!  There’s even a large awning for those rare rainy days! 

On camping tours, we take a maximum of 15 people and there is an esky for clients in the trailer for your own snacks and drinks!

FAQ's

We highly suggest reading through our Frequently Asked Questions before sending through an enquiry or making a booking. 

Click here to visit our FAQs page.