|Trip Length: 5 days Total Distance: 1232 km Road Conditions: Some unsealed roads|
This 5-day tour provides you with the perfect opportunity to discover the hidden secrets, history and surprisingly beautiful outback national parks as an alternative to the traditional coastal route between Cairns and Townsville. A fantastic time to enjoy this tour is in early Spring - the desert wildflowers season.
Note: some roads are dirt or gravel. Between May and October these roads are generally suitable for conventional vehicles. 4WD is advised outside these months due to potential flooding. Check all road conditions before departure.
From Cairns, head south to Innisfail and up the range to Millaa Millaa, an Aboriginal name meaning 'plenty water'. A 30 km drive takes you on a scenic circuit of Millaa Millaa Falls, Zillie and Elinjaa Falls. Continue on to Ravenshoe, just 3.5 km west of Ravenshoe, on the Kennedy Highway, is the widest waterfall in Australia, the Millstream Falls.
Continue on the Kennedy Highway to Undara Volcanic National Park, where you can explore the fascinating Undara Lava Tubes. A variety of guided tours are available. Allow plenty of time to explore Undara. Undara is a unique natural attraction, with 60 caves and arches extending over a wide area in Australia's largest underground lava tube system. Take a tour, dine in the local restaurant, or alternatively, sit around a camp fire and listen to stories and poetry of the 'bush'.
Various options for accommodation are available at Undara, including motel-style accommodation, heritage train carriages, or camping facilities. Advance bookings are recommended.About the Drive
|Road Conditions:||Sealed bitumen mostly; the last few kms to Undara Volcanic National Park are unsealed - but generally accessible to normal vehicle (weather & road conditions permitting) during the months May to November.|
Enjoy the morning in Undara, before heading south again on the Kennedy Highway to The Lynd. The area of Moonstone Hill, south of The Lynd, is popular for gem quality feldspar (called 'moonstone'), and of interest to both amateur gem collectors and lapidary enthusiasts.
In the afternoon, continue south along the unsealed Kennedy Developmental Road, passing by Blackbraes National Park, to Porcupine Gorge National Park, 190kms south of The Lynd. Over millions of years, Porcupine Creek has carved a massive gorge through the basalt-capped sandstone and conglomerate rocks. Stop for a view of the gorge and a picnic at the Gorge Lookout just off the Kennedy Developmental Road.
Bush camping, tent and caravan sites, a shelter shed and toilet are provided. A walk down the gorge takes about 30 minutes, but allow approx 1 hour to get back up. Longer walks are available as well. Conventional and caravan access is possible with care. Four-wheel-drive is recommended in wet weather. Camp overnight at the park.About the Drive
|Duration:||4 hrs 15 mins|
|Road Conditions:||92 km to The Lynd are sealed; 190 kms unsealed roads|
Spend most of the day exploring more of the gorge. Enjoy birdwatching, nature study and photography. See red-winged parrots, honeyeaters and black ducks around the creek. Look for wallaroos and rock-wallabies. Enjoy the wildflowers in spring and summer.
Head off in the afternoon for the short drive to Hughenden, located half-way between Townsville and Mount Isa on the Flinders Highway. Hughenden is situated on the banks of Queensland's longest river, the Flinders. Hughenden is noted for its wide streets and outback architecture. William Landsborough and Frederick Walker camped here in 1862 on their search for Burke and Wills and their promising reports of the country encouraged settlers to the area.
There are several attractions including four National Parks nearby, gemfields, mountainous volcanic basalt country, sweeping black soil plains and rich fossil and dinosaur areas. Include a visit and a swim at Kooroorinya Falls.
Hughenden offers gem fossicking and scenic four-wheel drives. Fossils can be found in many of the creek beds surrounding the town. 4WD Scenic Drive information is available from the Flinders Discovery Centre.
The Flinders Discovery Centre also houses a life-size Mutttaburrasaurus skeletal replica and a fossil display of international standards.
Overnight in Hughenden.About the Drive
|Road Conditions:||Unsealed roads, and sealed bitumen|
Set off early from Hughenden, north-east along the Flinders Highway towards Charters Towers.
Along the way, White Mountains National Park has spectacular white sandstone bluffs and gorges, well worth a visit.
Stop on the Flinders Highway at Burra Range Lookout for a view over the park's steep gorges and peaks. White Mountains is a wildlife and birdwatchers haven. The spectacled hare-wallaby and eastern pebble-mound mouse are two of the more unusual animals which live in the park. This is a relatively undeveloped park but camping is allowed at Cann's Camp Creek. The campground is unsuitable for caravans or motorhomes, and campsites are limited. No walking tracks are provided. For safety, walkers must register with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service office in Hughenden or Charters Towers and complete a remote bushwalking form beforehand. Conventional access is possible to Burra Range Lookout. Four-wheel-drive is recommended to reach the campground. The road to the campground is closed during wet weather.
Continue on to Charters Towers, arriving mid-afternoon; or earlier if you don't stop at White Mountains for a walk.
Charters Towers is an old mining city where you can still see many century-old buildings and feel the traditions. Visit the gold stamping mill from past gold rush days, the World Theatre, museums and immerse yourself in the outback atmosphere. Stop for lunch at a restaurant or in an old pub for true-blue Aussie tucker. Visit the old Stock Exchange building and explore the parks and gardens. B & Bs, hotels, motels or caravan parks are all available for your overnight stay.About the Drive
|Duration:||3 hrs 30 mins|
Enjoy a relaxing breakfast and explore a little more of Charters Towers before setting off mid-morning.
Drive north-east along the Flinders Highway for the last leg of this journey. On the way to Townsville, stop at Bowling Green Bay National Park, just south of Townsville.
Bowling Green Bay National Park is the largest park between Bowen and Townsville. Rugged granite mountains rise abruptly above the coastal plain in Coastal wetlands, saltpans and mangroves cover much of this coastal park. Alligator Creek flows through the park in a series of cascades, deep pools and waterfalls. Have a picnic at Alligator Creek. Picnic tables, a shelter shed, gas barbecues and toilets are provided. The camping area has hot showers and wood barbecues and is suitable for caravans and motorhomes. Look for brushtail possums, sugar gliders and northern brown bandicoots. See agile wallabies, allied rock-wallabies and rufous bettongs feeding early morning and late afternoon.About the Drive
|Duration:||2 hrs 45 mins|