Car or Camper
Townsville to Camooweal
From the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef and pristine beaches of Townsville to the rugged rocky outcrops and red sand of north-west Queensland, the Overlander’s Way will take you through towns rich with history, dinosaur discoveries and some of the world’s quirkiest events; all without having to leave the bitumen.
Follow the footsteps of Australia’s droving heroes, who lead thousands of cattle from the Northern Territory across Queensland to coastal markets and discover the unspoilt beauty of Outback Queensland.
Townsville to Charters Towers
Although this stretch of the drive is short in distance, it’s rich with things to see and do.
You’ll want to take at least a day to explore the vibrant coastal hub of Townsville, if only to visit the Great Barrier Reef where you can dive or snorkel with colourful fish, giant turtles and bright coral. Drop by Reef HQ Aquarium where you can experience the world’s largest coral reef aquarium and visit the Turtle Hospital.
Continue on to Charters Towers, a beautifully preserved part of Townsville history.
Charters Towers to Hughenden
This gold mining town was once the largest city in Queensland after Brisbane. During the gold rush the town boasted 65 hotels and 29 crushing mills, and it’s easy to see how bustling it would have once been with its wide open streets and grand architecture. The prosperity of this era can be seen in the beautifully preserved city centre, known as ‘One Square Mile’.
Queensland’s last bushranger was laid to rest at the Charters Towers Cemetery, where you’ll find the graves of other notable people including Jupiter Mossman (whose namesake is now a casino), the Aboriginal boy who helped discover gold at Charters Towers.
The quirky stories and legends of the gold rush are brought to life each night on the Ghosts of Gold Heritage Trail tour in Charters Towers. During your time in Charters Towers, make a pit stop at Leahton Park to visit Texas Longhorn Wagon Tours & Safaris and Bethel Saddlery.
Hughenden to Richmond
Step further back in time to the era of dinosaurs in Hughenden. Along the way, stop at Burra Range or Mount Walker lookouts for an uninterrupted view of the densely wooded buffel country. Hughenden is the heart of dinosaur country, which in prehistoric times sat on the shoreline of a great inland sea.
Nearly 3000 dinosaur and marine fossils have been found in the surrounding countryside. To get a true idea of the beasts that roamed these lands, check out the life-size replica of the first entire dinosaur skeleton found in Australia and on display at the Flinders Discovery Centre.
Porcupine Gorge, known locally as ‘Australia’s Little Grand Canyon’ is just one of many national parks in the Flinders region. Porcupine Gorge is made up of towering sandstone cliffs that have been carved into the landscape over time by the erosion of the surrounding creek creating it’s beautiful colour.
Richmond to Julia Creek
Venture ‘underwater’ into the prehistoric inland sea to Richmond, the fossil capital of Australia.
In Richmond, explore the collection of marine reptile fossils at the award-winning Kronosaurus Korner. The museum is home to over 1150 fossil specimens unique to Richmond. Try to find one for yourself at the fossil hunting site.
Explore the Bush Tucker Gardens on the banks of Lake Fred Tritton where you will find local native plants labelled with their traditional purposes. The lake has sandy beaches, a boat ramp, free barbecues and a playground, making it an ideal place to relax, swim and fish for barramundi or red claw.
Julia Creek to Cloncurry
Head further west to Julia Creek for spectacular outback sunsets and a chance to gaze at a thick blanket of stars that cover the night sky. The Julia Creek Dunnart is a tiny endangered marsupial who lives in a special nocturnal viewing area at the Visitor Information and Interpretive Centre, ‘At The Creek’.
Learn how the Great Artesian Basin sustains life in the outback, have a picnic on the moon rock chairs and tables, or go underground to explore the geological features that shaped the region.
Take a walk through the township and discover the historical tales of this small town and visit the remains of a WW2 Directional Finding Installation near the airport.
Each April, the town population swells to 3000 for the annual Dirt ‘n’ Dust Festival. The program includes a triathlon, horse racing, bull ride and outback novelty events such as mud snorkelling races.
Cloncurry to Mount Isa
Continue along the Overlander’s Way to Cloncurry, the birthplace of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). In ‘the Curry’ learn about the RFDS, which is as integral to outback survival today as it was when it first serviced these remote outposts of Australia’s vast inland in the 1920s.
Pay a visit to the John Flynn Place Museum and Art Gallery and learn how emergency technologies were used to pioneer outback radio communication.
Cloncurry was named by explorer Robert O’Hara Burke and you can see his drink bottle at the Burke and Wills display in the Cloncurry Unearthed Museum at the Mary Kathleen Memorial Park & Museum. While there, you’ll also discover the history of the abandoned Mary Kathleen uranium mine.
Mount Isa to Camooweal
From Cloncurry, the Overlander’s Way winds through the spectacular Selwyn Ranges to Mount Isa.
Mount Isa, the ‘oasis of the outback’ is Outback Queensland’s only city and offers a melting pot of culture, industry, history and nature. The town’s major industries are mining and beef production, and visitors can experience both at the Outback at Isa Visitor Centre, home to the replica Hard Times Mine. Join a tour and descend 22 metres underground to experience life as a miner with working mining equipment. See the Riversleigh Fossil Centre which educates visitors on the fossils extracted from the nearby World Heritage Listed, Riversleigh Fossil Fields. Join the resident palaeontologist on a lab tour to see exciting local fossil finds.
Further afield, 17 kilometres out of town to be precise, is picturesque Lake Moondarra , offering visitors barbecue facilities, swimming, fishing and a spectacular lookout.
Before leaving Isa, call in to the School of the Air for a glimpse into classes conducted via satellite with students from remote communities and cattle stations. See the WW2 Underground Hospital, visit the National Trust Tent House, take a surface mine tour and see inside the Bureau of Meteorology.