Itinerary help for Cape York, Savannah Way, Nhulunbuy & Surrounds

Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 12, 2019 at 11:56
ThreadID: 138506 Views:4199 Replies:4 FollowUps:3
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Hi, We are just above Bundaberg and heading North, we don't have to be back down south to October and we will come back along the QLD coast again on our way down south. Some of our main destinations are Cape York, Savannah Way, Nhulunbuy & Surrounds for this trip.

We have a slide on camper that sits on our Ford Ranger tray and towing a 4.5 metre Polycraft boat (a lot heavier than alloy) on a reasonably good trailer but not offroad extreme ready (eg. has new road tyres on) so not planning on taking it to the "Cape". We don't usually tow anything on longer trips so we usually down have to think about the best route to take as we have been able to pretty much go where we want as along as the vehicle is capable.

The main thing we are trying to work out is a route that would suit the following: Towing the trailer and using the boat in areas that suit inshore and estuary fishing and leaving it in destinations (maybe Lakeland when we do the Cape)
Not having to do to much back tracking to collect the boat, for example we would like to go to Lawn Hill but how could we include this in if we tow the boat to NT.
I have no idea on how many kms are dirt on the Savannah Way and whether we should consider towing the boat on this, my initial thought is that we probably shouldn't.
It would be good to have the boat in Normanton and places like Lorrella Springs (if roads ok). The other option is to just leave the boat in QLD somewhere if the route and backtracking becomes to difficult and just do the main locations without towing the boat as there will be other trips in the future that may target fewer areas.

Another consideration is School Holidays and not being on the Cape in the first 2 or 3 weeks of July, maybe we should head to Nhulunbuy NT first and do the Cape later. Thus is our dilemma, I hope this makes sense, any assistance will be much appreciated!

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Reply By: Kenell - Wednesday, Jun 12, 2019 at 17:25

Wednesday, Jun 12, 2019 at 17:25
I travelled much of your proposed route about this time last year. I towed an off road hybrid camper and had no trouble apart from a tyre. Having said that I am not sure about towing a trailer with a Polycraft. Parts of the Savannah Way can be heavily corrugated and the Nhulunbuy road is also prone to be rugged. So much depends on road maintenance and just how robust your set up is. The road into Lorella is rough although relatively short if coming up from Cape Crawford and there is a fair bit of 4wd track to negotiate once you get there if you want to get to the coast. Much of the rougher parts of the Savannah Way can be avoided without missing fishing opportunities. King Ashe Bay out of Borroloola requires about 50 ks of mild corrugations but well worth it for the camping and fishing. Normanton, Karumba, Burketown and so on are all sealed. Road into Lawn Hill is again not ideal for your set up. The fishing at Gove is great and there are charters available that might be a better option for you. Its the sort of place where you either know where to go to get the fish or miss out. Its also prone to be windy . Long way to tow for no fish.
Hope this helps and good luck with the fish if you decide to give it a go.
AnswerID: 626147

Follow Up By: Member - Bigfish - Wednesday, Jun 12, 2019 at 20:22

Wednesday, Jun 12, 2019 at 20:22
Dont forget that you will definitely need a permit to travel to Gove and more permits to drive around the area with many places off limits.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 11:17

Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 11:17
Hi Kenell

The Central Arnhem Highway is far Superior to the PDR going to the Cape where it is corrugated the complete way, where as we found that the corrugations on the Central Arnhem Highway were only short lived, and in general the road was very good. On The PDR, you will see the most craziest of drivers, going like “Bats out of Hell”, compared the Central Arnhem Highway when it was many times no vehicles at all or a few hours until we saw another vehicle.

As with any dirt road, it’s just a matter of tyre pressures and driving to the conditions.


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Reply By: Sam39 - Friday, Jun 14, 2019 at 11:36

Friday, Jun 14, 2019 at 11:36
Thanks for the responses so far. We actually bought the boat in QLD recently so gave us a good excuse to head up here for the winter down south and a bit longer hopefully and tow the boat home.

Our intention is to mainly use it on the East Coast and estuaries but if it makes sense take it to the part of the gulf that is more accessible and do fishing charters elsewhere if we haven't had enough fishing. Maybe if we were to ask the itinerary question slightly differently: (hope this makes sense)
- If we were to keep the boat pretty much all on sealed roads what route would suit without doing to much backtracking to collect it and where would suit to leave it while doing unsealed roads like the cape, savanah way and road to Nhulunbuy?
- Given school holidays are the first few weeks on July, might we be better doing NT and Savanah Way first and collecting the boat on the way back like Camooweal (if road North via Gregory is sealed) and then heading East to the coast on bitumen on the Savannah Way?
AnswerID: 626200

Reply By: Member - lyndon NT - Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 09:49

Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 09:49
Gove is great, two weeks absolute minimum. 1400 Km of dirt (return).
You could leave the boat in Katherine. Need the usual permits. You will miss out on many places if trying to go there in school holidays and only thinking about it now. Probably booked out, however they now have a great website were you can see what is available and also book sites.
Gove Permits


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Follow Up By: Sam39 - Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 09:16

Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 09:16
Thanks for that info and link, I hadn’t come across that site before
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Reply By: Sam39 - Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 10:51

Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 10:51
Does any know how much of the Savannah Way is unsealed currently and from where to where? It was a number of years ago the we first did this.
AnswerID: 626240

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