|Trip Length: 7 days Total Distance: 1210 km Road Conditions: All sealed roads|
Follow in the footsteps of dinosaurs across the ancient great inland seabed when you embark on this fascinating drive. Experience the rugged beauty of Queensland's north-west outback through some of the most dramatically changing landscape in Australia.
Fully sealed roads lead you from the largest inland city and mining heart of Australia, Mount Isa, to where dinosaurs once roamed and roared across an outback much different to the one we see today. Come face to face with these giants from the past and learn how they walked, swam and survived millions of years ago. Fossick and pick up an authentic dinosaur fossil to take home. Witness the massacre site when a stampede took the life of thousands in one go.
Hear the legends of yesteryear and meet the colourful characters that live here today. In pubs and stores they'll greet you with a warm gidday and usually a tip of the hat for the ladies.
This route can be accomplished with a 2WD vehicle though some of the roads to attractions along the route are dirt and may become inacccessible after rain. No matter what vehicle you are travelling in be sure to check road conditions before departure.
After flying into Mount Isa spend the afternoon exploring Australia's outback mining capital. The best place to start is at The Outback at Isa. Join an ex-miner donning a hard hat and experience life as he did when you descend underground into Hard Times Mine.
The next day, step back in time walking through a Miocene Forest brimming with peculiar looking creatures and watch as palaeontologists prepare fossils unearthed at the award-winning Riversleigh Fossil Centre. Next door hear dreamtime stories whilst gazing at magnificent aboriginal rock carvings and paintings at the Kalkadoon Tribal Centre.
For sunset, drive up to the city lookout and watch a constantly changing view. Towering copper and lead smelter stacks pierce the skyline signalling the importance mining 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 Mount Isa are switched on.
Day 3 - As you travel east the rugged Selwyn Ranges sprinkled with Spinifex take on a different appearance not only each season but every hour of the day. Stand in silence admiring some of the oldest art on earth at Sunrock. Cruise around the deserted township of Mary Kathleen, once a major settlement for uranium mining.
The friendly town of Cloncurry, built on copper and cattle is next. Stare down the huge open pit on a tour of the Ernest Henry Mine as giant excavators load the ore laden with copper into massive mining trucks. See the history behind the great outback saviour - The Royal Flying Doctor Service - which officially launched in Cloncurry at The John Flynn Place.
Cloncurry was once a Ghan Town at the height of the copper boom. From Rotary lookout imagine the scene when 200 plus 'Afghans' camped below - what an exotic sight. These ships of the desert and their masters transported all types of goods to where horse or bullock could not. The mosque with its rich carpet floor is now gone however in the cemetery lies the grave of Mullah Syd O Mar, aligned traditionally north-south to the Muslim holy city, Mecca.
Rolling over vast Mitchell Grass plains, home to the rare Julia Creek Dunnart, next stop is Julia Creek, the first European settlement in north-west Queensland. Today the huge trucking saleyards keep the cattle from massive stations across northern Queensland moving. You'll hear the crack of whips, smell the dirt and sweat as modern day drovers do their job.
Then it's into Richmond for a moonlight stroll around Lake Fred Tritton in time for a great night time show - stargazing.About the Drive
|Duration:||4 hrs 40 mins|
|Road Conditions:||All sealed roads|
Before departing Richmond, a visit to Kronasaurus Corner should be placed high on your list. Journey back 100 million years, when this whole area was below the water line. Study the remains of Australia's best-preserved dinosaur skeleton, Minmi which takes pride of place alongside the Richmond Pliosaur - Australia's best vertebrate fossil and one of the world's finest Pliosaur skeletons. It really has to be seen to be believed!
If fossil fever should take hold, grab a map and head on out to one of the free fossicking sites close to town. Almost every stone overturned contains some form of fossilized material and impressive bones are still commonly found.
Then it's off to Hughenden on the banks of Queensland's longest river and to greet you is a mammoth life-size dinosaur replica - Hughie they call him for short.
If time allows, consider a run up to Porcupine Gorge to see Australia's Little Grand Canyon. Give the outback wave to others passing this way as you steer the car through huge sheep stations, before arriving in Winton for the night.
Best known as the place AB (Banjo) Paterson penned and first performed Australia's adopted anthem, Waltzing Matilda. Hear the ghost of the swaggy by the billabong and lots more at the Waltzing Matilda Centre. Spend the day exploring Winton with its Outback country pubs, The Royal Theatre, Anro's Wall and the Music fence.
The next day venture out to Lark Quarry or take an organised tour. The Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackways are set in the most awe inspiring landscape - amid the red earth, spinifex and jump up country. 110kms south-west of Winton, it is the world's only record of a dinosaur stampede. Look in astonishment at the 3300 fossilised foot prints, telling a story of a few fateful moments, 95 million years ago. Steven Spielberg was so inspired by the trackways he wrote the stampede scene in 'Jurassic Park'. Fully guided tours are run three times a day and they are well worth the drive.
On your return to Winton, venture into Bladensberg National Park and take the route of the rivergum drive for a snapshot into the intense beauty of this outback park. There are several side trips to consider if time permits - Skull Hole, reportedly an Aboriginal massacre site; the cairn erected to commemorate the Shearers' Strike in 1891 and the subsequent formation of the Australian Labor Party; Bladensburg homestead and its out buildings.About the Drive
|Duration:||4 hrs 05 mins|
|Road Conditions:||All sealed roads|
Hit the road towards Mount Isa. Pull over and have morning tea beneath huge Red River Gums and Coolibah trees on Combo Waterhole, 145 kms out of Winton.
This deep semi-permanent billabong on the banks of the Diamantina River is believed to be the site that inspired the writing of Waltzing Matilda by Banjo Paterson while on a visit to Dagworth Station in 1895. Since then it has hardly changed. In the shallows, Brolgas casually saunter in search of food as you sit back and relax. After your cuppa, walk across the stone-pitched overshot weir, built by Chinese labourers more than a century ago.
Kynuna is just a couple of clicks down the road. You can't drive past the famed Blue Heeler Hotel and not have a peep inside. Some around these parts are very keen to tell you this is the bar where Banjo swigged down beer and performed his verse. By a drink and earn the right to put your name up on the wall. The old wooden walls are covered with graffiti from top to bottom with names of visitors from around the world, hats, singlets and numerous articles of underwear.
Next stop is the small outback town of McKinlay and yes another famed outback pub. Stride across the wooden veranda just as Mick did in Crocodile Dundee for this is the featured Walkabout Creek Hotel.
From here it's an easy run along the tar back through Cloncurry and into Mount Isa to prepare for the trip home.About the Drive
|Duration:||5 hrs 20 mins|
|Road Conditions:||All sealed roads|