|Trip Length: 6 days Total Distance: 1081 km Road Conditions: All sealed roads|
'Pass the billy round boys, don't let the pint pot stand there,' for you're about to follow in the steps of pioneering men and women along the famous Overlander's Highway. Hear stories of great droving feats and the colourful characters after which the Overlander's gets its name - many a verse has been penned about the legendary, brave and rugged drovers known as the 'overlanders'.
From the dazzling reef to the ochre tinged outback, The Overlander's Way leads you past incredible sights both modern and ancient, natural and man made. The journey begins from Townsville right on the doorstep to the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef - the only living organism visible from outer space! Fall into the relaxed pace of tropical life while taking in this natural wonderland full of vibrant marine life, fringed with idyllic beaches.
Then its westwards to the historic gold mining town of Charters Towers. Then on your way to Hughenden, Richmond and Cloncurry. You'll witness magnificent landscapes where dinosaurs once roamed and volcanoes rumbled. Across endless grazing lands, the road leads you into one of the largest cities in the world Mount Isa - the main street here is 180 km long! Via the Barkly Highway the Overlander's Way passes vast mining leases through Camooweal to finish the Queensland leg just 12 km on at the Northern Territory border.
The tracks across which the overlanders moved huge mobs of stock have all been replaced, you now travel in comfort with the tarmac underneath. The Overlander's Way is a major link road connecting Highway One on the east coast with Tennant Creek on the Explorer Highway in the Northern Territory - it is a drive that truly reveals the charisma of Australia. Cattle are still moved through this important corridor so there's every chance you'll see a road train or two driven by the modern day drover.
There's some wonderful sidetracks enticing you to explore, from national parks to lookouts, inland lakes and gorges - what a unique insight into Australian history and traditions!
So grab that billy, start the motor running, and in the spirit of the overlanders head on out for an adventure through a slice of Queensland with a little something for everyone - The Overlander's Way.
Welcome to the tropical city of Townsville glowing with exceptional natural and historical attractions. Enough to warrant pulling up for a night or two. This city boasts an amazing 320 days of glorious tropical sunshine a year! Undoubtedly, one of the best inner city attractions is The Strand - a 2.5 km stunning beach promenade with excellent views across the Coral Sea to Magnetic Island. Stroll, fish from the pier, indulge in ice-creams or cocktails or simply relax in the sunshine and watch the vibrant goings on. The night markets are wonderful and there's a terrific rook pool (safe swimming enclosure) and free water park for a dip.
You'll get a fantastic photo for the holiday album from Castle Hill and Victoria Bridge. There's a historic railway station, heritage buildings and the Breakwater Marina all to see while you are in town and both the Museum of Tropical Queensland and North Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Cultural Centre are worthy of a visit.
Right on the doorstep of Townsville is the World Heritage listed Magnetic Island and the Great Barrier Reef. 'Maggie' is how the locals affectionately refer to this beautiful island. Surrounded by aquamarine waters teeming with colourful fish and corals, the island is over two-thirds national park and home to the largest colony of free roaming koalas in northern Australia!
The walking and heritage trails let you experience some wonderful views and wildlife up close while underwater there are shipwrecks and a whole new world to investigate. If you happen to be on the reef from late spring to summer, you may witness a snowstorm beneath the sea - coral spawning an incredible performance by nature. There's a residential village with over 2000 people on the island providing a wide range of accommodation choices for various budgets.
From Townsville there are some terrific drives north and south perfect for day trips. Wallaman Falls plunge 305 m into the Herbert River creating Australia's highest sheer drop waterfall, at Lucinda see the world's largest sugar loading facility and from the beachside town of Cardwell discover the superb Cardwell National Park.
When its time to pack the swag and move on down the road, the city once known as 'The World', back when the drovers on horseback cracked their whips along this track, historical Charters Towers awaits, 137 km due west.About the Drive
|Duration:||1 hr 30 mins|
Experience a by gone era in and around Charter Towers, once the second largest city in Queensland when gold fever flowed through the veins of everyone that strolled the streets.
There are many restored buildings gracing Charters Towers - a reflection of the wealth gold bought to this outback city. Today Charters Towers is a bustling rural centre often referred to as a 'living museum' and the first of the wonderful buildings you should visit in town is the Visitor Information and Orientation Centre - you'll get all you need to guide you around this delightful city.
Try The Ghosts of Gold Experience, which includes the Stock Exchange, Towers Hill, and Venus Battery. From charming miner's cottages to ornate two storey buildings, there's plenty of turn of the century architecture to view and an insight into the real-life experiences of those who lived here during the gold rush to be had.
At Centenary Park picnic among the sculptured works depicting the discovery of gold or in Lissner Park sit in the historic rotunda and reflect on what a buzz must have flowed through the streets after a new strike. On Towers Hill explore World War II bunkers and for those who find the past fascinating, take a visit to Pioneer's Cemetery with graves dating back to 1872.
The Great Wall of Basalt National Park is well worth the trip out to see. A lava flow thousands of years ago yielded a large coffee coloured basalt wall which came to rest alongside the Burdekin River it's waterfalls and swimming holes are just astounding. Camping is allowed in the park at Red Cedar Falls. Visit the heritage-listed town of Ravenswood, 85 km south-east of Charters Towers - pan for gold, visit an open cut mine still in action or sit and relax on the veranda of one of the two pubs that remain from thirty that once quenched the thirst of thousands of thirsty miners. Consider staying overnight to learn the ghostly tales and legends of this district from the locals. Burdekin Dam around 80 km south is a beaut spot for fishing and boating however, be aware the odd saltwater crocodile or two have been spotted here.
Charters Towers is host to the biggest amateur cricket carnival in the Southern Hemisphere called The Goldfield Ashes played over the Australia Day weekend each January and the Charters Towers Country Music Festival - the largest amateur music quest in Australia.
105 km down the track next stop is Hughenden, on the banks of Queensland's longest river, The Flinders. Make sure you stop at the lookout on the way!About the Drive
Hughenden is the heart of dinosaur country; for many moons ago in prehistoric times, it sat on the shoreline of a great inland sea. Nearly 3,000 dinosaur and marine fossils have been found in the surrounding countryside and to get a true idea of the beasts that roamed these lands before the drovers and their mobs of stock, check out the life-size replica Muttaburrasaurus. This rare find, the first entire dinosaur skeleton found in Australia, catapulted the area into international fame - 'Hughie' as the skeleton was nicknamed, is on display at the Flinders Discovery Centre.
However, Hughenden is not just about big footprints and giants from the past. Natural beauties like Porcupine Gorge, nicknamed as 'Australia's little Grand Canyon' is only 63 km north and Blackbraes National Park with its unique basalt features is a around another 90 km north.
For a little more modern day history go to see the Coolabah tree at the showgrounds blazed by explorers Frederick Walker in 1861 and William Landsborough in 1862 and for the record, Breaker Morant moved to Hughenden in 1884.
As you journey, one of the many trains that travel the tracks from Townsville to Mount Isa may escort you westwards. At Richmond 112 km down the Overlander's Way you can step back in time 100 million years. Richmond was once under the ancient inland sea and the Kronasaurus Korner Fossil Centre features Australia's best vertebrate fossil exhibit including the Richmond Pliosaur considered by scores of experts to be the best vertebrate fossil ever found!
After the centre let, 'fossil fever' take hold and unearth prehistoric treasures at the free fossicking sites close to town. The Curator at the fossil centre will be happy to identify your find.
Discover unique spherical Moon Rocks from the size of a golf ball to many tonnes and often containing fossilised remnants at the Lions Park.
Lake Fred Tritton, right near the centre of town offers something for day and night. Put in the boat and toss in a line or maybe catch a few redclaw during the day; at night, spread out the blanket and gaze up into a wonderful outback night sky for one of the best shows on earth - stargazing.
Don't forget the billy when you put the campfire out before heading on down the track, 145 km over Mitchell grass plains to Julia Creek, home of cowboys, shady pubs and the rare endangered marsupial, the Julia Creek Dunnart.About the Drive
|Duration:||3 hrs 15 mins|
Roll into Julia Creek, the first place of European settlement in north-west Queensland and once a major stopping point for the overlanders. Today the huge trucking saleyards keep the cattle from massive stations across northern Queensland moving and the town lively. You'll still hear the crack of whips, smell the dirt and sweat as modern day drovers do their job.
As you sit under the shady veranda of the old Julia Creek Hotel, say g'day as ringers pass through the doors. Pubs in the west are not just for quenching hard earned thirsts, they're where one goes to find out just what's the latest news around town. Inside the pub, the walls are covered with crosscut saws, dingo traps, saddles and lots of other gear used by the pioneers.
There's a couple of good watering spots around Julia Creek too - The Punch Bowl Waterhole, 45 km east, Eddington Waterhole around 20 km west and Sedan Dip to the north.
The Mitchell grass plains surrounding Julia Creek is home to a very rare little marsupial aptly called the Julia Creek Dunnart - efforts are underway to save this unique Australian animal.
Then it's time to roll up that swag again as 137 km down the road is Cloncurry - more cattle, copper, and the birthplace of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. This famous life saving outback service cares for people across the entire of outback Australia. John Flynn established the first base in Cloncurry and today the John Flynn Place pays homage to this valuable service.
The locals in this part are quick to point out the first Qantas flight landed in Cloncurry. As they say in these parts, 'Qantas was conceived in Cloncurry, born in Winton and grew up in Longreach' - the original hanger is still at the aerodrome.
However, it's the wealth of cattle and copper that have made Cloncurry grow. It was near here the first copper in western Queensland was found back in 1867 and since then a vast mineral wealth has been created. You can see the big wheels of industry turn on a tour to the Ernest Henry Mine.
At Mary Kathleen Park in Cloncurry, visit the Information Centre and hear of its 'moving' past. You can also pick up a fossickers licence, maps and discover the history of the Mary Kathleen township that dissolved with the closure of the uranium mine. Or consider the Ernst Henry Mine Tour.
Leaving Cloncurry you'll pass the deserted township of Mary Kathleen on your right as you head into Mount Isa - a multi-cultural and dynamic city in the Queensland outback.About the Drive
Welcome to Mount Isa - or as the locals like to say 'The Isa'. They claim that with the city limits extending over 40,000 sq km, Mount Isa is one, if not the, largest city in the world!
Set amidst the Selwyn Ranges and on the banks of the Leichhardt River, The Isa has plenty to see and do. No visitor should go home without paying a visit to the City Lookout. From here, you get a constantly changing view across this outback oasis. The towering copper and lead smelter stacks pierce the skyline signalling the importance mining has here and at dusk, the muted pastels of the evening sky bathe the scene for a terrific picture. By night, another view unfolds as the lights of Mt Isa are switched on.
Contained in the rocky outcrops surrounding the town is the world's richest copper, silver, lead and zinc ore bodies - and though mining dominates more than the just the skyline you can't help to notice how clean and green this city is.
The big wheels of industry turn beside a multitude of remarkable things in and around Mount Isa. The 'Outback at Isa' is more than just a Tourist Information Centre. It highlights the many facets, challenges and highlights of the area. Descend underground 1.2 km into the Hard Times Mine, walk through a Miocene Forest with peculiar looking creatures, see the fossil treatment laboratory and right next door discover the Kalkadoon Tribal Centre and Cultural Keeping Place. Hear dreamtime stories whilst gazing at magnificent aboriginal rock carvings and paintings, fossick for Maltese Crosses and trilobites, sit and watch the sun set over outback lakes and discover spectacular gorges - there's no shortage of attractions.
For those that like the water, Lake Moondarra and Lake Julius provide everything from fishing, four wheel driving, bird watching, even the chance to pan for some gold. Lawn Hill Gorge in Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill National Park) and the Riversleigh's D Site - World Heritage listed fossil site are both accessible from Mount Isa.
Continuing down the main street of Mount Isa, a mere 188 km, it's time to pull over and put the billy on again. For at the end of this very, very long street is the town of Camooweal.About the Drive
Queensland's most westerly town, Camooweal proudly declares itself as 'The Gateway to the Northern Territory' and is the reason why Mount Isa was placed in the Guinness Book of Records - this is officially the end of Mount Isa's main street.
Originally established as a droving post, Camooweal's connection with the overlanders runs deep and each year the annual Drovers Reunion and Festival celebrates with plenty of boots, dust and fine yarns.
Check out the Barkly Tableland Heritage Centre, Lake Francis, the large mural of a horse drawn carriage and the graves of pioneers at the Camooweal cemetery. At Freckleton's Store stock up on supplies while you yarn away with the manager - he'll point you in the right direction so you don't miss any of the attractions. The bore sunk back in 1897 to provide fresh water for thirsty stock and drovers still flows strong supplying the town with water to this day.
Camooweal Caves National Park, 24 km south of town is an elaborate system of caves on the edge of the Barkly Tablelands. As well as the caves there's bush camping, plenty of birdlife and some spectacular sunsets for photography enthusiasts. You can't help but be impressed by the rocky escarpments and gorges of the remote Barkly Tablelands.
From Camooweal the black bitumen of the Overlander's Way leads to the Northern Territory border a further 13 km on, from there it's onto Tennant Creek. After a trip like this you'll want to raise your pannikin high, in a toast to the spirit of the overlanders.About the Drive