Townsville Outback Queensland Masters Trip | Winton – Mount Isa – Birdsville
19 NIGHTS | 1,815 KILOMETRES
TOWNSVILLE TO HUGHENDEN
It’s time to begin your Outback Queensland Masters road trip. Leave the beaches behind and start your adventure by heading west from Townsville to Charters Towers, rich in gold mining history and home to resplendent architecture.
Stop in at the Prairie Pub, a bucket list pub (for good reason), 40 kilometres east of Hughenden. This icon serves its meals, cold brews and friendly atmosphere with a side of Australiana artefacts.
Hughenden boasts a prehistoric past; once on the shoreline of the Eromanga Sea, today it sits on the banks of Queensland’s longest river, the Flinders. You can delve into pre-history at the Flinders Discovery Centre and Museum and meet ‘Hughie’ the life-size Muttaburrasaurus.
For your first outback sunset experience of the trip, head 8 kilometres south of the town to take in 360-degree sunset views from atop Mount Walker, 152 metres above Hughenden.
From Hughenden take a day trip to Porcupine Gorge National Park, known as ‘Australia’s Mini Grand Canyon’. Located 63 kilometres north of town, this national park features towering sandstone cliffs that have been carved into the landscape over time by the erosion of the surrounding creek creating its beautiful colour. Relax, take a dip and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Stay 2 nights
HUGHENDEN TO WINTON
Fuel your road trip to Winton with freshly made bakery goods from Holdens Bakery before tracking to Australia’s Dinosaur Capital to arrive the night before tee-off.
Australian history runs through the veins of Winton, from the ochre red soil below to the walls of the grand-old pubs that line the streets.
Book in for a guided tour of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs where an interactive guided tour of their Fossil Preparation Laboratory, Collection Room and the March of the Titanosaurs exhibition will have you considering a career change into palaeontology.
For Australian history on more of a surface level, the Waltzing Matilda Centre celebrates the famous bush ballad and unofficial national anthem in a multi-sensory experience. Follow it up with some pub grub served with a side of Australian history at the North Gregory Hotel, rumoured to be the location of the first public rendition of Waltzing Matilda.
If time permits in your schedule off the sand green take a full day tour to the world’s only recorded evidence of a dinosaur stampede – the Dinosaur Stampede at Lark Quarry Conservation Park. More than 95 million years old, the 3,300 stampeding footprints are immortalised in stone and protected 110 kilometres south-west of Winton.
Arriving early? Catch Winton’s Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival running from 24th June – 2nd July 2022, celebrating Australian film under the Milky Way.
Stay 4 nights
Winton Golf Club, Vindex Street Winton
Saturday 9 July – Sunday 10 July 2022
Find further Winton travel information and accommodation here.
WINTON TO JULIA CREEK
Today, you’re heading to Julia Creek, but first continue waltzing with Matilda by pit stopping at Combo Waterhole, 132 kilometres north of Winton. Set out on foot along the self-guided 2.6 kilometre return walking track to the famous waterhole which Banjo Paterson visited in 1895, inspiring the words of Waltzing Matilda.
If you’re ready to tick another iconic pub off on your list, park up at the Blue Heeler Hotel in Kynuna, pull up a bar stool and say g’day to the locals.
When you reach Julia Creek, you’ll have earnt some well-deserved down time. Slide into the artesian baths at the Julia Creek Caravan Park with a cheese platter and some bubbles. Our tip – book in early to score yourself the hot-in-demand sunset slot.
Stay 1 night.
JULIA CREEK TO CLONCURRY
Before waving goodbye to Julia Creek, wander on foot or grab a free cruiser bike from the Caravan Park to make way to ‘Beneath Creek’ to meet their cute and cheeky nocturnal locals, the Julia Creek Dunnarts.
Take the Overlander’s Way west to Cloncurry, a town rich in history and minerals. As you make your way here, you’ll soon come to see this town’s backdrop is set upon a series of hills, contrary to the endless flat landscapes you’ve experienced.
Cloncurry was the birthplace of the Royal Flying Doctor’s Service in 1928. Learn the story of its beginnings and the life of its founder at John Flynn Place. Over at the Cloncurry Unearthed Museum, check out the gem and mineral collection and discover more of the area’s history including displays about the Mary Kathleen uranium mine.
Cloncurry’s Water Tank will mesmerise you with the 360-degree mural capturing the towns sunset hues and indigenous community which overlooks the town and Cloncurry River.
Cool off (after all… you are in a town nicknamed ‘The Curry’) or cast a line to reel in barramundi at Chinaman Creek Dam, just outside of town.
Stay 2 nights.
CLONCURRY TO MOUNT ISA
Today continue your journey along the Overlander’s Way for Mount Isa and admire the beauty of the changing orange-hued landscapes that contrast again the blue skies.
For those with a four-wheel-drive, spare some time in your schedule for the Ballara Mining Heritage Trail or eerie abandoned ghost town of Mary Kathleen, found enroute to Mount Isa.
Once you’ve arrived in Australia’s Rodeo Capital and historical oasis in the red dirt, get your bearings of Mount Isa from the city lookout.
Play it like a local and dress up in a hard hat and high-vis to make your way 20 feet underground on The Hard Times Mining tour. The hands-on experience with an ex-miner will have you learning about the local mining history and drilling with authentic mining machinery. Yep, this is a photo-opportunity must.
The Riversleigh Fossil Centre at Outback at Isa is where you’ll see the ancient world come back to life and learn about how the fossils are extracted from the World Heritage-listed Riversleigh Fossil Fields (one of the most important fossil deposits in the world). Join their resident palaeontologists and field staff on one of their daily laboratory tours.
If there’s a hospital you want to visit while on holiday, it’s the Mount Isa Underground Hospital Museum. Built during WWII, it’s Australia’s only known underground hospital where you can walk the narrow wards which have been left almost completely intact.
If you’re looking to make a splash after completing 18 holes over the weekend, just 17 kilometres north is Lake Moondarra. It’s one of Outback Queensland’s best spots to throw in a line and a freshwater fishing gold mine. Swim, kayak or pack a picnic and soak up the scenery.
Stay 4 nights
Mount Isa Golf Club, Powerhouse Road Mount Isa
Saturday 16 July – Sunday 17 July 2022
Find further Mount Isa travel information and accommodation here.
4WD OPTION: MOUNT ISA TO BOODJAMULLA NATIONAL PARK
(319 kilometres one way)
Looking for an outback paradise? It’s called Boodjamulla National Park.
Those with a 4WD can continue west towards Camooweal before getting well off the beaten path, heading via the UNESCO World-Heritage Riversleigh Fossil before continuing to Boodjamulla National Park.
Note: Only the first 57km of this route is sealed.
This 28, 200 hectare national park is home to lush forests and winding emerald green waters, surrounded by towering orange cliffs. The traditional owners, the Waanya People, couldn’t have named the country better, ‘Boodjamulla’ meaning Rainbow Serpent Country.
MOUNT ISA TO BOULIA
After some relaxation outback style, you’ve got a big journey ahead to Boulia. Make sure to leave early to head south along to Boulia in Outback Queensland’s Channel Country.
The eerie Min Min Lights, have drawn curious travellers to Boulia for decades hoping to see the mysterious balls of glowing light, first sighted at a lonely Cobb and Co staging site in the shire. Whether it’s fact or fiction, a trip to the Min Min Encounter Centre will enthral you with stories.
You can continue digging for more of Australia’s prehistoric past here in Boulia which once sat on the edge of the Eromanga Sea, making it a fossil hot spot. You can find their extensive marine reptile fossil display at the Stonehouse dating back more than 100 million years.
Don’t be surprised to see a camel or two either, the town hosts the ‘Melbourne Cup of Camel Racing’ every July.
Park up and rest up for the night, just don’t forget to look up at the Milky Way above.
Stay 2 nights
BOULIA TO BIRDSVILLE
You’ll feel a sense of unchartered territory as you reach your final tee-off location and Million Dollar Hole-In-One Challenge.
On your way south, stretch your legs in Bedourie where the Royal Hotel has barely changed since the 1880’s and is still pouring cold beers today.
As Queensland’s most western frontier and perched on the edge of the Simpson Desert, Birdsville is as outback as they come.
The hundred or so locals who call this place home have plenty of backyard to share with Munga-Thirri National Park (the Simpson Desert) covering 176,500km2. As far as outback adventures go, nothing’s more iconic than catching the sunset hues dance across the endless dunes on top of the Simpson Desert’s first and famous Big Red sand dune.
And since you’ve made it all this way, it’s only suitable to share a thirst-quenching beverage inside the sandstone walls of Queensland’s most western watering hole. The Birdsville Hotel has been welcoming travellers from all corners of the country for over 130 years.
Birdsville Dunes Golf Club
Friday 22 July – Sunday 24 July 2022
Find further Birdsville travel information and accommodation here.