Townsville Tours and Attractions
Spanning 1550 kms across the rugged Australian outback from the tropical city of Townsville – gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and on to the 1930’s gold rush town of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory; is the Overlanders Way.
The fully sealed highway offers the modern day adventurer an opportunity to trace the stock route chosen by drovers (overlanders) who brought vast herds of live cattle from the Cattle Stations of the East Kimberley to the markets and port facilities on the North Queensland coast more than a century ago.
The Overlanders Way is a key link between Highway One on the East Coast and the Explorers Highway in the Northern Territory travelling through some stunningly beautiful countryside and iconic outback Australian towns.
To spend a few days enjoying the cosmopolitan city of Townsville – capital of the North, its trendy coffee shops & alfresco restaurants, its beautifully restored heritage buildings, waterfront precinct, the Great Barrier Reef or “Maggie” (Magnetic Island) might be just what the Doctor ordered to get you into explorer mode and ready for your adventure along the Overlanders way.
The 1870’s gold rush turned Charters Towers into Queensland's second largest city. Its prosperous past is evident in every street, Charters Towers even boasted its own Stock Exchange. A heritage walk is the best way to take in this awesome and beautiful town – don’t rush; there’s more than a few days of exploring for you in “the World” as it is affectionately known. Call into the Visitor Information Centre on Mosman Street to purchase or hire an interesting audio CD and map on the city’s history and features to get you started.
White Mountains National Park straddles the Overlanders Way between Charters Towers and Hughenden. Featuring spectacular white sandstone bluffs and gorges, brilliant wildflowers and diverse landscape ranging from forests to sand dunes make this park a significant habitat for wildlife and birdlife, some of which can be seen from Burra Range lookout on the highway.
At Hughenden, the Flinders Discovery Centre and Visitor Centre houses a full skeletal replica of a Muttaburrasaurus as well as an amazing exhibition of fossils from both the local area and around the world; the Porcupine Gorge Light and Sound Show and Shearing the Stragglers display (the story of the demise of the local sheep industry) – all well worth a visit. About 60 kms north of town is Porcupine Gorge National Park, Australia's ‘Little Grand Canyon’ with its towering cliffs of vibrantly coloured sandstone, contrasting green vegetation and crystal clear flowing creek – just the place for a refreshing dip and a few days camping.
Richmond, located on the banks of the Flinders River and known for its marine fossils was once rugged country submerged beneath the Great Inland Sea almost 120 million years ago. Kronosaurus Korner (which houses the Visitor Centre) is considered to hold Australia’s most exciting Marine Fossil display including several significant and rare skeletons and can be found in the centre of town. Richmond is also known for its bougainvillea-lined streets, parks and gardens, and Lake Fred Tritton; well stocked with Barramundi and Redclaw and a popular water sports venue. You will need to spend a couple of days in Richmond.
Julia Creek is an RV friendly town where you can enjoy beautiful sunsets and clear starry skies and is home to the Julia Creek Dunnart – an endangered marsupial only found within a 100km radius of Julia Creek. Check out the display at ‘At the Creek’ – the town’s multi award winning Visitor Information Centre and major Tourist Attraction along with restored Queensland Police jail cells, three restored railway fettlers’ cottages and other displays. If you’re lucky enough to be travelling through Julia Creek in April take in the Dirt & Dust Festival – a truly unique triathlon that could only happen in a place like Julia Creek.
The ‘Curry’ (Cloncurry) enjoys a rich history as both the founding place of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and destination of the first Qantas flight in 1922 (The original Qantas hanger is still in use today) You will be awed by the John Flynn Place Museum & Art Gallery which houses the history of the RFDS; and Mary Kathleen Memorial Park which houses history and memorabilia on Cloncurry, the former township of Mary Kathleen, the Burke and Wills history display, a comprehensive mineral and gem collection and the Visitor Centre. These and a dozen or so other attractions will keep you enthralled for at least a couple of days – no need to hurry…..
‘The Isa’ is one of those truly iconic cities of outback Australia and your exploring starts at Outback at Isa, the cities Visitor Centre. At the centre you can experience first-hand the daily workings of an underground mine at The Hard Times Mine, observe palaeontologic research during daily lab tours with the resident Palaeontologists at the award winning Riversleigh Fossil Centre or enjoy the beautiful Outback Park. There are plenty of other attractions including Mount Isa Family Fun Park – the largest all abilities playground in Queensland, the fabulous fishing at Lake Moondarra and being the gateway to both the spectacular Lawn Hill Gorge and the world-heritage listed Riversleigh Fossil Fields, Mt Isa is just the place to spend a few days.
Located within the Mount Isa City boundary but around 200 kms west of Mt Isa is the town of Camooweal – “The Western Gateway to Queensland” and being that Camooweal’s main street is actually the highway, makes this the longest main street in the world! Camooweal Caves National Park, south of town contains caves and sinkholes created when the soluble dolomite is eroded by water to form an extensive system of caverns under the ground and is a popular place to visit, as is Freckleton's Store, Camooweal Cemetery and the Drovers Camp Information Centre.
Barkly Homestead is a welcome stopover on the last leg of your journey along the Overlanders Way. Enjoy the outback hospitality and a cool drink before you head for the big smoke of Tennant Creek.
Tennant Creek was the site of Australia’s last gold rush and together with the rugged yet beautiful surrounding countryside and the influence of Aboriginal art and culture make this town one of Australia’s exciting destinations. Make your first stop the Tennant Creek Visitor Information Centre at Battery Hill Mining Centre where you can look over the original 1930’s Government gold stamp battery or enjoy an underground mine tour, explore a World War 2 camp hospital – now museum, the Old Telegraph Station or the Nyinkka Nyunyu Art and Culture Centre. The ancient Aboriginal mythology of the fossilised eggs of the Rainbow Serpent (Devils Marbles) south of town or The Pebbles just north of town will have you enthralled – there’s just so much to do in Tennant Creek.
Probably the hardest thing you will have to decide now is where will the rest of your adventure take you from here – North to Katherine and Darwin or South to Alice Springs? The Overlanders Way is just the start…..