2018 Season Start

It has been an eventful start to the 2018 season at the Savannahlander.  With some damage to the line after the rail events during the off season, we have been running a shortened service during the month of March to either Almaden or Mt Surprise return.  The end of March saw the effects of Tropical Cyclone Nora deliver large rainfalls across tropical Far North Queensland and the Etheridge Shire forcing the line to be closed once again.

All our passengers booked are being informed and we are monitoring the situation closely.   Please visit our Facebook page if you would like more updates on the Savannahlander and some of the extreme weather events that have been affecting the region.

2018 Packages are now available

With so many options there is a package for everyone. Popular package fares start from just $840 or you can manage your own accommodation and meals with our “Rail Fares Only” pricing. A full list of tours and packages available here.

If you are a current concession card holder, we do offer discount fares for the following list of cards.

How to Book

It’s easy and all online!  Keeping in mind that we operate a train and work with third party operators along the route, the booking process is as follows:

  1. 1) View our extensive list of tours available online and find out which tour you would like to do.  Also check our Availabilities page to see if your chosen tour is available on your preferred date(s).
  2. 2) Visit our online Bookings Page to make your booking request.  Just fill out the form from top to bottom.
  3. 3) Once you click on “Submit” you will be directed to our payment gateway (Paypal) to make your deposit.  Note that you do not need to have a paypal account and that you can simply use your credit card.
  4. 4) You will receive a confirmation email from our booking system, along with an email from paypal which is your receipt for your deposit.
  5. 5) We will make request from the operators along the route for you.
  6. 6) Once we have a confirmation of your accommodation and any tours that you have requested, we will email you a confirmation with a booking reference number.  You can now book your other flights/accommodation with confidence.  This email will also have details on Cairns accommodation etc.
  7. 7) We will email you your itinerary, invoice and vouchers for providers along the way.  Full payment for your tour is due 30 days prior to departure.


The Savannahlander has a 39 week operating cycle each year, commencing on Wednesday 7th March 2018, running through to the last trip on November 28th. The train departs Cairns for a four day adventure every Wednesday at 6.30 am. 

Chillagoe Art Trek a Success!

In October this year (2017) we ran our first “Art Trek” to the town of Chillagoe.  As the brainchild of local artist Heather Byrne, this tour involved a train journey from Cairns to Almaden and then three nights in Chillagoe.  The time was spent in some of the fantastic locations around the area painting, drawing and photographing what is a truly inspiring landscape.

Heather was kind enough to write about some of the happenings on the trek – so please take a moment to read what our luck 14 artisits had to enjoy some of her reflections on the 2017 Chillagoe Art Trek…


The inaugural art trek on the Savannahlander took off bright and early from Cairns Railway station 25 October with our drivers Wil and Anthony. The magic coffee that greeted us at Edge Hill was a perfect way to start our art trek.

We had fourteen attendees all looking forward to painting and photographing the great outdoors around Chillagoe and of course all the scenic spots along the way.
We collected two of our art trekkers at Mareeba and we were truly ready for our adventure.

The train clickity-clacked its way across a changing terrain on its way to Almaden where we had lunch and were transported to Chillagoe, about 30 minutes away.
After settling in we were off to explore one of the caves with our guide Greg. Then a quick tour of the town and a ‘get to know each other’ conversation at our accommodation Chillagoe Eco Lodge.

Thursday morning saw us all ready to go to the Mungana cave system where we painted in cool comfort as the caves are several degrees cooler than outside even though they are at ground level. The more adventurous of us ventured out and about around the caves and escarpments and others took advantage of natures’ air conditioning and stayed within the caves. The colours of the bush sparkled colours of green and gold to umber and burnt sienna! Every artists dream.

Back to Eco lodge for lunch and a bit of a rest in the heat of the day and then to the hill overlooking the old copper smelter. Three chimneys still stand proud and tall, the bricks and the skilled labour coming from Scotland to complete the smelter in just four short years.

After a yummy dinner we had ‘show and tell’ and displayed our paintings and sketches and discussed the day.

Its already Friday but many of us couldn’t remember what day it was as the quietness of the bush and the tranquillity enveloped us. Silence only broken by bird calls and the wind.

We made our way down to the local creek where water sparkled over the weir, paper barks made wonderful reflections, there were plenty of shady spots and rocks so we made ourselves comfy and painted the morning away. Flying foxes put on a daylight display by moving camp to somewhere up river, we were close enough but far enough away to observe this display with some awe.

Back to Eco Lodge for lunch and a rest, some of us had explored the town and discovered a coffee shop and the information centre which deserved a return visit.
The afternoon took us to Balancing Rock in the national park, a bit of a climb was rewarded with spectacular rock formations and as the name suggests rocks seemingly balanced on nothing. We painted into the dusk, watching the changing colours and the golden glow of late afternoon.

Back to Eco lodge, our home away from home where host Ian had specially prepared damper and slow cook casserole over a camp fire, a mellow evening accompanied by a mellow glass of red and easy conversation. The Footy match interrupted things a bit with devotees watching the game while others watched the dying embers of the fire and enjoyed a relaxing night with stars peeking through the clouds.

Saturday morning was ‘show and tell’ of yesterdays’ adventures and a relaxed walk for a morning coffee and a visit to the information centre. The time line of Chillagoe and surrounding country is as old as earth itself and this is clearly explained on the walls of the information centre. There is much to see and do at Chillagoe, our time was too brief but I’m sure many of us will return to experience this unique place.

All too soon it was time to board the bus back to Almaden to meet the train and enjoy lunch at the pub then onto the train to track back to Cairns.
We have so many memories and new friends, loads of photos and our art journals and sketches to remind us of this special time at Chillagoe and the art trek.

Heather Byrne

Chillagoe Art Tour – SOLD OUT

Thanks to a fantastic response from the community, the Art Tour for 2017 has been sold out.  Thanks for visiting, if you are interested in joining us next time please feel free to subscribe to our mailing list and we will keep you informed.

Come paint the Savannah Way and enjoy the unique experience of travelling to your painting location on the iconic Savannahlander, one of the great train journeys in Australia. Include your camera with your painting gear, there’s so much to see and experience. 

Join your local tour leader Heather Byrne and enjoy painting and sketching the Savannah landscape and much more around the Chillagoe area. From the relics of the copper refinery, the marble pits, abundant wild life and pioneer settlement sites to cool swimming holes with sandy banks and weeping melaleucas. You can meet local aboriginal artist Geraldine who can tell us about indigenous artworks and the stories of dreamtime and paint a piece of Chillagoe marble.

Four days, three nights you will depart Cairns on the Savannahlander on Wednesday morning (25th October) and wind your way up through the wet tropics area of the Kuranda range and out into the Savannah country.  A remarkable day with changing landscapes, you will be lunching at the town of Almaden before heading over the Chillagoe.

The tour is includes your rail passage, tour of the Chillagoe Caves,  transfers within the tour, your accommodation for three nights, three dinners, three breakfasts and four lunches.  You will be staying a the wonderful Chillagoe Eco Lodge, an oasis in the outback.

Please make your booking to secure your place on this special tour, numbers are limited and we will be placing guests strictly on a first-come basis.

2017 Last Minute Deals

Occasionally things go wrong for travellers and some of our passengers need to cancel their bookings. While we are sad that they are not joining us – this is an opportunity for others as we can offer you those places!

Keep in mind – these are not negotiable on the dates, room-types, the tours are available “as-is” for the listed numbers only. If you would like to book these tours – please click the click the “enquire” button on the table.

2017 Last Minute Opportunities

Date (of departure)Tour Package DetailsNumber of placesBook Now
Sorry - there are no current cancellations available.
Please check current availabilities for 2017 tours

2018 Advance Bookings List

Keep in mind that if you are thinking of travelling with us in 2018 you can register your interest online. Everyone on this list will be emailed and given a 2 week advanced booking period before we open our bookings to the general public.

2017 Rail Fares and Tour Packages now available

With so many options there is a package for everyone.   Popular package fares start from just $620 or you can manage your own accommodation and meals with our “Rail Fares Only” pricing.   A full list of tours and packages available here.

If you are a current concession card holder, we do offer discount fares for the following list of cards.


The Savannahlander has a 42 week operating cycle each year, commencing on the first Wednesday in March, running through to the middle of December.  The train departs Cairns for a four day adventure every Wednesday at 6.30 am. The 2017 season starts on the 1st of March and the last departure for the year is on the 13th of December.

A.S.S.C.O Adventure

We were very pleased this week to host the great people from the Australian Society of Section Car Operators.  Starting off at our depot in Cairns North (Actually known on the railway as Edge Hill siding) the group will be driving their section cars from here to Forsayth and returning over the next 6 days. (more…)

A great time to travel

Welcome to the second half of the year! With a cold snap gripping many parts of Australia it’s worth thinking of heading north for a spell. We think it’s cold here too – but then again we think that when it gets to 15 degrees up here in North Queensland!

August has been solidly booked at this stage with only a few seats left – but if you are thinking of travelling in September or October you will be delighted to know that we have plenty of seats available. (more…)

Stolen cups keep popping up

Many of our wonderful passengers love a cup of tea – and we love to see where some of our world famous cafe cups end up!  If you haven’t checked out our “Stolen Cups” then have a look at some of the images that we have recently been sent on our Facebook page. (more…)

2015 Prices

The prices on the Most Popular, Short and Gulflander Tour pages have been updated and now show the 2015 season prices. We will update prices on the add on tours and train fares only pages in the coming days.

All our providers have done their best to contain any price rises to levels as low as possible for next year (indeed, some have not applied any increases at all), but some costs, especially those for road transfers had to have slight increases applied.