Ancient Outback - Mount Isa to Mount Isa

Multiple Locations

Follow in the footsteps of dinosaurs across and ancient inland seabed and experience the rugged beauty of some of the most dramatically changing landscape in Australia when you embark on this fascinating drive through Queensland's north west outback.

Fully sealed roads lead you from the largest inland city and mining heart of Australia, Mount Isa, on a round circuit through tiny unique towns where you'll hear the bush legends of yesteryear and meet the colourful characters that live and work here today. They'll greet you with a warm g'day and send you on the trail of dinosaurs where you can fossick for your very own valuable fossils.

While this drive can be conquered in a two-wheel-drive vehicle, some of the detours and side trips may be better suited to a four-wheel-drive. Whatever vehicle you're travelling in, be sure to check the road conditions before you head off on this adventure of a lifetime.

Journey Details

Duration
168 Hours
Distance
1210 Kilometres

Facilities

  • Car park

Activities

  • Birdwatching
  • Hiking/Trekking

Full Itinerary

Days 1, 2 and 3: Mount Isa to Richmond

After arriving in Mount Isa, spend the afternoon exploring Australia's outback mining capital. The best place to start is The Outback at Isa visitor centre, where you can tour a replica mine built and operated by actual miners and head to the underground hospital for a dose of WW2 history.

Day 2 - Step further back in time by walking through a miocene forest brimming with peculiar looking creatures and hear Dreamtime stories whilst gazing at magnificent Aboriginal rock carvings and paintings at the Kalkadoon Tribal Centre.

Day 3 - As you travel east, the rugged Selwyn Ranges emerge from the horizon. Sprinkled with spinifex, they take on a different appearance every hour of the day as the sun arcs through the sky bathing them in changing light. View some of the oldest art on earth at Sunrock and then head on to Cloncurry.

Built on the copper and beef industries Cloncurry is home to the huge open mine pit of the Ernest Henry Mine, named after the bloke who first discovered copper in the area. Learn about the history of the outback's greatest savior, the Reverend John Flynn, who launched the Royal Fling Doctor Service in the late 1920s.

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Route Details

Route Type
One Way
Level of Difficulty
Level 1: Suitable for the disabled with assistance
Mode of Travel
Car
Days 4, 5 and 6: Richmond to Winton

Upon reaching Richmond, a visit to Kronosaurus Korner should be high on your list. Journey back 100 million years, when this whole area was below the water-line of a great inland sea. Study the remains of Australia's best-preserved dinosaur skeleton, Minmi, which takes pride of place alongside the Richmond Pliosaur, which is Australia's best vertebrate fossil and one of the world's finest Pliosaur skeletons.

If fossil fever takes hold, grab a map and head to one of the free fossicking sites close to town. Almost every stone overturned contains some form of fossilised material and impressive bones are still commonly found. Then have your finds identified by the resident fossil curator.

Next, it's off to Hughenden, which lies on the banks of Queensland's longest river. To greet you is a mammoth life-size dinosaur replica, locally referred to as 'Hughie'.

The next stop, Winton, is best known as the place where Banjo Paterson penned and first performed Australia's adopted anthem, 'Waltzing Matilda'. Hear the ghost of the swagman by the billabong and lots more at the fabulous Waltzing Matilda Centre. Spend the day exploring quirky Winton with its outback country pubs, the open-air Royal Theatre, Arno's Wall and the Music fence.

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Route Details

Route Type
One Way
Level of Difficulty
Level 1: Suitable for the disabled with assistance
Mode of Travel
Car
Day 7: Winton to Mount Isa

On the road to Mount Isa, pull over and have morning tea beneath huge red river gums and coolibah trees on Combo Waterhole, 145 kilometres out of Winton. This deep, semi-permanent billabong is believed to be the site that inspired the writing of Waltzing Matilda by Banjo Paterson in 1895. Afterwards 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 locals are keen to tell you that this is the bar where Banjo swigged beer and performed his verse. Buy a drink and earn the right to put your name up on the wall.

Next stop is the small outback town of McKinlay and, yes, another famous outback pub. While it's not actually in the fictional Northern Territory town of Walkabout Creek, McKinlay's Walkabout Creek Hotel is Mick Dundee's waterhole in the Crocodile Dundee films. The town is home to Australia's smallest public library and the BHP Cannington Mine is just down the road.

From here it's an easy run back through Cloncurry and into Mount Isa.

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Route Details

Route Type
One Way
Level of Difficulty
Level 1: Suitable for the disabled with assistance
Mode of Travel
Car

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Accommodation
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From AU$115 - 220
The luxury bungalow tent island retreat of Svendsens Beach Great Keppel Island offers guests the perfect eco friendly island holiday with a 'glamping' experience. At their reasonable prices anyone can afford a week on the pristine side of Great Keppel Island. Walk the many bushwalks (up to five hour tracks), snorkel on their lovely coral reefs or just relax. They meet you at the island ferry and transport you over to share their small, friendly, ecologically gentle island way of life, where their power comes from wind generators and solar panels. Whales migrate past the island in Winter (July-September) and turtles nest in Summer (November-February). The accommodation is for adults only. Svendsens Beach can accommodate a maximum of 10 adults in the two luxury tent-bungalows, the newly appointed studio and the rental house. The tents and studio form one small cluster, where up to three couples can share, whereas the house is completely separate and self-contained.

Noosa Avalon Farm Cottages

Pinbarren, Noosa Area
From AU$121 - 300
Noosa Cottages is an Eco award winning Retreat and Sanctuary for your Queensland holidays in the beautiful Noosa Hinterland, fully self-contained holiday accommodation on 30 private treed acres. Sunshine coast accommodation with panoramic mountain views, offering great value for money. Noosa Avalon Farm Cottages has five very individual private country cottages from rustic to country elegance and can sleep one to 23 guests. Great for families, honeymooners, romance, children and pets, and business groups in the real Australian bush. Don't forget your marshmallows to toast around your campfire and enjoy a kaleidoscope of stars. Close to Lake Cootharaba, Cooroy, Pomona, Eumundi, Fraser Island and Cooloola, Enjoy National Parks, kangaroos, lakes and native animals, butterfly and bird watching, walking and horse riding trails, Eumundi markets, art galleries, museums, Majestic Silent Movie Theatre, antiques, restaurants, fishing and swimming. They are environmentally friendly since 1986 and do not use poisons on Avalon. Five minutes to your local friendly town of Pomona, quirky and historical, lot of antiques and country shopping, only 90 minutes from Brisbane. The kids will love animal feeding and viewing on the farm. Experience wildlife and farm animals with a focus on revegetation, habitat and education.
From AU$110 - 110
Enjoy your farm stay activities and accommodation at Chinchilla, the beginning of the outback. In 1990 Shirley and Brian returned to the family property (settled in 1910) to build their Bimbimbi home. Later they restored the original pioneer family home complete with original furniture at Little Hollow. They now can share with guests their love and enjoyment of country life either at Bimbimbi which offers full accommodation or self-catered accommodation at Little-Hollow. The 2,500 acre Hereford grazing property is situated 20 kilometres west of Chinchilla and is only a three and a half hours drive from Brisbane. When you step out of your car the peace and tranquility of the views, bush and wilderness areas will enfold you. Guests can walk to explore or just watch the Hereford cows and calves graze. Bordering on the Condamine River this property has preserved a major part of the original bush and wilderness areas. It has been recognised by Greening Australia and is registered as “Land for Wildlife”.

Henderson Park Farm Retreat

Rockhampton, Rockhampton Area
  • Free WiFi
From AU$165 - 225
Henderson Park, a fifth generation family run working cattle property, is uniquely positioned just 10 minutes off the East Coast Highway and 30 minutes north of Rockhampton, Central Queensland. Join an educational property tour, simply unwind or take a break from travelling. Go on a bush walk, see wildlife and cattle in their natural environment, go canoeing, swimming, fishing (creek is stocked with Barramundi!) and admire the stunning sunset and evening bird song. There are two styles of fully self contained accommodation available. Luxurious accommodation is provided in an intimate setting at Hedlow Lodge, which boasts 180 degree views over the property and water from the spacious communal deck. Four queen ensuited rooms are available in Hedlow Lodge. Their Pioneer Style Cabins are cosy and timber lined with private verandahs also overlooking beautiful Hedlow Creek. Two cabins are available each with different bedding configuration. Ranked number 1 of 32 places to stay in the Rockhampton region on Trip Advisor, hosts Annika and Ryan are waiting to welcome you to their little piece of paradise!

Hay Point Country Bed and Breakfast

Hay Point, Mackay Area
  • Free WiFi
  • Deals
From AU$140 - 140
Relax and escape to this tropical country retreat located only 25 minutes south of Mackay. Access roads are all sealed - only 10 minutes from the highway. The air-conditioned self-contained unit provides a convenient home-base while you explore the Mackay/Whitsunday region's rainforests, reefs and many other unique tourist attractions. After a day of sightseeing or fishing, unwind with a game of tennis and then cool down in the resort-style pool. You might like to assist with feeding the farm animals or just take a leisurely walk while you absorb the country atmosphere. A full breakfast is included in the tariff and country style evening meals are available with 24 hours notice. The unit has a well-equipped kitchen and the laundry includes a washing machine, iron and ironing board. Wi-fi is available and they accept Visa and MasterCard.

Tallebudgera Creek Tourist Park

Palm Beach, Gold Coast Area
  • Free WiFi
From AU$42 - 525
Tallebudgera Creek Tourist Park is located on the waterfront of the Tallebudgera Estuary, an ideal holiday spot for families who love the water. There’s a netted swimming area in the creek plus a patrolled surf beach 300 metres from the park. This family park has it all with three swimming pools which are heated seasonally, a tennis court, well-stocked kiosk, camp kitchens, barbecues, a playground and recreation room. Park accommodation includes a wide variety of two and three bedroom villas that sleep from four to nine guests. Villas on the waterfront have picturesque views, and for the budget conscious, the lodging rooms are ideal with shared facilities. The wide range of sites is suitable for caravans, camper trailers, camper vans and tents. Options include waterfront, ensuite, powered and un-powered. A boat ramp adjacent to the park provides easy boating and fishing access. Scenic Burleigh Heads National Park is within a short stroll for bushwalks and spectacular views. The drive to theme parks and Surfers Paradise is a comfortable 30 minutes from the park and easy access to public transport gets you to nearby golf courses, restaurants, and services clubs.

Greenlee Cottages

Sarabah, Scenic Rim Area
  • Free WiFi
From AU$175 - 300
Greenlee Cottages are four contemporary cottages with rustic charm set in the Scenic Rim, with a backdrop of Greenlee Farm macadamia orchard. Soak up the great views of the Canungra Valley from the deck. Listen to the Canungra Creek flowing by. Relax with a good book. Immerse yourself in nature with native wildlife and birdlife on your doorstep. The cottages accommodate between two and four people. Woodcutters cottage is disable friendly so all guests can enjoy the beauty of the surrounds. Enjoy the comfortable queen beds and the rustic touches in the bathrooms. Each cottage has its own welcoming feel. Wi-fi is available. Indulge in a breakfast basket full of food sourced from the Scenic Rim that you can cook in your kitchenette. A barbecue gazebo is available for your use at any time. Barbecue packs can be arranged with notice. Farm tours can be arranged to explore the macadamia farm. Make time to taste the many wines of the area, or go bushwalking at close locations like O’Reillys, Binna Burra or Tamborine Mountain. Learn about the woodcutting history of the Canungra area. Only one hour from Brisbane or the Gold Coast.
  • Free WiFi
From AU$70 - 180
Come and live the real outback life. Myella is a working cattle farm situated 1.5 hours from Rockhampton. They offer friendly and clean accommodation. The rooms have air-conditioning, fan and most have a refrigerator and feature a painting from a local artist. The beds are comfortable and all linen is provided. Standard rooms have shared bathrooms, there are some ensuite rooms available. One bathroom on the farm has wheelchair access. Powered or unpowered campsites are available. There is a television, laundry, swimming pool, a large lawn area, and the dining hut is made from Myella farm timber. Great home cooked meals are available. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Tours are available (additional cost) or book an all inclusive package. Try horse riding, motorbike lessons, cow milking, whip cracking, lasso, feed cows, horses and chickens. See the wild kangaroos, go on a bush walk or just take in the breathtaking country scenery. Become one of the family and enjoy great country home cooked food. Transfers available or enquire for their self drive packages.
From AU$185 - 265
Clandulla Cottages and Farmstay is a tranquil and private farmstay holiday getaway featuring self contained accommodation. Located in the Gold Coast Hinterland at the foot of Tamborine Mountain, their farmstay is just a one hour drive from Brisbane and an easy 40 minute drive from the Gold Coast. Clandulla Cottages and Farmstay are nestled in some of the Scenic Rim Regions most beautiful countryside and on the doorstep of award-winning wineries and the best equine stables and polo fields. Whether you're looking for adventure or just some peace and relaxation, Clandulla Cottages and Farmstay has something for everyone. They even offer facilities for you to bring your own horse, perfect for those who are attending one of the many equine events in the area.

Wittacork Dairy Cottages

Witta, Sunshine Coast Area
From AU$190 - 350
Wittacork is a modern working dairy farm on 300 acres, containing over 100 acres of pristine rainforest. The farm adjoins Lake Baroon Conservation Area and National Park and is a Land for Wildlife registered property. The self contained cottages are set on a ridge overlooking Lake Baroon and the Obi Obi Gorge National Park and surrounded by rainforest. Guests can watch the cows being milked, feed the calves, collect eggs, bushwalk or laze on the deck soaking in the peace and the views. The property has a two kilometres of walking tracks in the rainforest with bridges across creeks and waterfall viewing areas.
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Note: Information on listed products and services are provided by the operator and were correct at the time of publishing. Rates are indicative based on the minimum and maximum available prices of products and services. Please visit the operator’s website for further information. All prices quoted are in Australian dollars (AUD).