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Q46 Do you need a big fridge to go camping in Australia? Can you manage without a fridge at all?

A.  The longest span without fuel is 377 kilometres from Borroloola to Roper Bar, but this can be by-passed by taking the alternative easy route via the Carpentaria Highway to the Stuart Highway at Hi-Way Inn Roadhouse.  For travellers choosing this alternative, 317 kilometres from Hells Gate Roadhouse in Queensland to Borroloola in the Northern Territory will be the longest distance without fuel outlets.

 

The Savannah Way is a tourist route name given to a collection of roads linking Cairns in Queensland with Broome in Western Australia, covering over 3,600 kilometres.  Much of the way follows conventional and mostly sealed roads, with the unsealed Gulf section from Northern Territory into Queensland being the adventure route, and the most remote.  There are alternatives to some sections, being more or less adventurous.  This can only be travelled during the dry season. 

 

Cairns to Normanton 680 kilometres, with frequent fuel outlets

 

From Cairns to Normanton, you will be following the Bruce Highway to Gordonvale, the Gillies Road climbing the range to the Atherton Tablelands, then joining the Kennedy Highway for 128 kilometres to take the Gulf Developmental Road west to Normanton.  There is no shortage of fuel outlets along this 680 kilometre sealed road route.    

 

Places of interest include the Atherton Tablelands scenery, lakes and waterfalls.  Campgrounds at Lake Tinaroo, volcanic lakes such as Lake Barrine, and lovely waterfalls such as Millaa Millaa falls.  Visit Innot Hots Springs and Undara Lava Tubes.  Stop at the historical gold mining town of Croydon, once the fourth largest town in Queensland.  Take a train trip between Croydon and Normanton on the historic Gulflander. 

 

There is an optional longer route incorporating mainly unsealed roads leaving Cairns via Kuranda to Mareeba, Chiilagoe, and taking the Burke Developmental Road to and following the Mitchell River before turning south towards Kurumba and to Normanton.  This is a journey of 766 kilometres, with no fuel outlets between Chillagoe and Normanton, a distance of 560 kilometres. 

Normanton to Burketown 230 kilometres

 

From Normanton to Burketown spans 230 kilometres of mainly unsealed roads, with no fuel outlets along this section.     

 

Leichhardt Falls, 74 kilometres south east of Burketown is a popular camping site.   From here to Burketown the road is mostly sealed. 

 

Burketown to Doomdagee Roadhouse 127 kilometres

 

This is the start of the unsealed road adventure to Borroloola.  You will encounter dips, and depending on the season, a number of water crossings. 

 

Doomadgee Roadhouse to Hells Gate Roadhouse 81 kilometres

 

From Burketown to Doomdagee Roadhouse is 127 kilometres, and a further 81 kilometres to Hells Gate Roadhouse. 

 

A loop can be taken incorporating a visit to Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park.  Take the Wills Developmental Road south from the junction 25 kilometres south west of Burketown to Gregory Downs, then west to Lawn Hill.   Fuel is sold at Adel’s Grove campground.  From here you can return to the Savannah Way at Doomadgee with four-wheel drive recommended.  Note that Kingfisher Camp on Bowthorn Station has been closed. 

 

Hells Gate to Borroloola 317 kilometres

 

From Hells Gate there is no fuel for 317 kilometres until you reach Borroloola. Older maps may show Wollogorang Roadhouse, approximately six kilometres west of the Northern Territory border, but this roadhouse has been closed for some years.

 

We found the fuel outlet on the southern side of the town in Borroloola was priced much more expensive than the one to the north, both are along the main street through the town.

 

Option 1:  Borroloola to Roper Bar 377 kilometres however fuel can be obtained at Lorella Springs,

                reducing the distance without fuel to Roper Bar to 275 kilometres

               Roper Bar to Mataranka 177 kilometres

 

Option 2: Borroloola to Cape Crawford Roadhouse 105 kilometres

              Cape Crawford to Hi-Way Inn Roadhouse 278 kilometres

            or 383 kilometres if not refuelling at Cape Crawford Roadhouse   

   Hi-Way Inn Roadhouse to Mataranka 168 kilometres

 

From Borroloola, travellers can continue north along the Savannah Way joining the Nathan River Road through the Limmen National Park to Roper Bar covering 377 kilometres.  Note that the fuel at Roper Bar may be difficult to access with a trailer attached. It is a further 174 kilometres to the Stuart Highway, and three kilometres on to Mataranka. 

 

For those visiting Lorella Springs Wilderness Park, fuel is available there, currently $3 per litre.  Travel 135 kilometre north west from Borroloola along the Savannah Way then take the Lorella Springs access road for 29 kilometres. 

 

Places of interest include the side trip to Lorella Springs Wilderness Park and in the Limmen National Park the Southern and Western Lost Cities (column rock formations), Butterfly Falls, Saint Vidgeon’s Ruins and Lomarium Billabong. 

 

For those taking the alternative of the Carpentaria Highway from Borroloola to the Stuart Highway, a further alternative route is to turn south on the Stuart Highway for 36 kilometres to take the Buchanan Highway westwards for 181 kilometres to Top Springs.  Then travel 242 kilometres to Timber Creek on the Victoria Highway.  Fuel is available at both Top Springs and Timber Creek. 

 

From Kununurra, there is the option to take the Great Northern Highway or the Gibb River Road.  Fuel outlets on both these alternative is shown on The Gibb River Road Fuel and Distances.

 

These fuel outlets listed here have diesel and ULP, but most do not have LPG. 

 

Distances have been taken from Google Maps and map books. 

 

See Chris and Valdis’s caravanning trip through the Savannah Way Gulf section from Mataranka to Leichhardt Falls. 

 

October 2016 

 

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On the Carpentaria Highway option, there are colourful column rock formations and walks in the Caranbirini Conservation Reserve (but no camping permitted here).  From Cape Crawford Heartbreak Hotel and Caravan Park, helicopter flights can be taken over the nearby Abner Ranges, or to Poppy’s Pool and other features.   

 

Mataranka there the route follows the Stuart Highway, Victoria Highway and Great Northern Highway to Broome.   For these routes see Fuel outlets on the Stuart Highway and Fuel outlets on the Victoria Highway.

 

A. No, you don’t need a big fridge. Yes, you can manage without a fridge, even in a hot climate.
Australia So Much to See is often asked how to manage a camping trip without a fridge. One such person gave me feedback of:

“Just wanted to say thank you for such a great informative website. Am doing a trip to the Kimberley in two weeks and this has given me so much information around food without a fridge/cooler. Great to finally find something that actually gives practical ideas. Yours is the one site that I am totally comfortable in sharing as valuable information and will keep in marked for future reference and recommendation to others.”

Foods you can choose and what meals you can easily make are shown here
http://www.australiasomuchtosee.com/cooking.htm together with tips on how to keep your food fresh.
Australians enjoyed camping holidays for many decades without refrigeration. Our early explorers crossed this land on foot or by camel, well before refrigeration.

These days some travellers want to tour into less accessible places and camp out while away from their caravan, and some travel light by motor cycle. This can be done without the need to take a fridge, while still eating well.

You can also read about the choices of fridge types to suit your needs in your caravan or motorhome at
http://www.australiasomuchtosee.com/starting2.htm#whichfridge
 
August 2016
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Q45 How far between fuel outlets on the Savannah Way?  What are the best features to see?
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