Field observations integrated with new petrographic and sensitive high-resolution ion microprobe (SHRIMP) U–Pb age data for detrital zircons from the Paleoproterozoic Speewah Group of northern Western Australia provide evidence of depositional conditions, source of detritus, timing and evolution of the sedimentary rocks in the Speewah Basin. The Speewah Group is a 1.5 km-thick succession of poorly outcropping, predominantly siliciclastic rocks that preserve a fluviatile to marine, transgressive and regressive event. The Speewah Group unconformably overlies crystalline rocks of the Lamboo Province that were stabilised by the 1870–1850 Ma Hooper Orogeny, then accreted as the Kimberley region onto the North Australian Craton during the 1835–1810 Ma Halls Creek Orogeny. Unconformably overlying the Speewah Group is about 4 km of predominantly siliciclastic marine sedimentary rocks of the Kimberley Group in the Kimberley Basin. This study has detected a detrital zircon component within the Speewah Basin at 1814 ± 10 Ma, with a youngest zircon at 1803 ± 12 Ma (1σ) in fluviatile sandstones located beneath a volcaniclastic rock with magmatic zircons that have been dated at ca 1835 Ma. Previous studies proposed that the Speewah Basin developed as a retro-arc foreland basin during accretion of the North Australian Craton. We interpret the ca 1835 Ma zircons in the volcaniclastic rocks to be xenocrystic in origin. This new 20 million years younger maximum depositional age indicates that the Speewah Group in the Speewah Basin, similarly to the overlying Kimberley Group in the Kimberley Basin, developed in a post-orogenic setting on the North Australian Craton rather than in a syn-orogenic setting associated with the 1835–1810 Ma Halls Creek Orogeny.