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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Blackall Caravan Park

Blackall, Blackall-Tambo Area
  • Free WiFi
From AU$27 - 160
The Blackall Caravan Park offers powered and unpowered sites, fully self-contained cabins and units. There are two amenity blocks, a laundry, dump point, pets are welcome, free wi-fi and drive through shady grass/slab sites.

Kinnon and Co Outback Accommodation

Longreach, Longreach Area
From AU$125 - 195
The outback has always been renowned for its warm hospitality and the Kinnon and Co self-contained accommodation continues that tradition. On adjoining landscaped sites set back from the main Longreach-Ilfracombe road, and a few minutes walk from the Stockman's Hall of Fame and Qantas Founders Museum, you can choose from the unique Homestead Stables and Pioneer Slab Huts with deluxe heritage-inspired interiors or the comfortable Outback Lodges that offer great value for families or groups of friends.

Coopers on Cassowary

Longreach, Longreach Area
From AU$200 - 200
Coopers on Cassowary offers modern cottage accommodation in the heart of Longreach, Queensland. Fully self-contained three bedroom cottage, accommodating up to five people, with one master queen room, one twin room and one single room.

Gilberton Outback Retreat

Einasleigh, Etheridge Area
From AU$800 - 10000
Welcome to Australia's best kept secret, Gilberton Outback Retreat. This exclusive private luxury retreat is located in the gorgeous gold fields country of northern Queensland, Australia. The retreat overlooks the Gilbert River and offers magnificent panoramic views.

Stonehenge Caravan Park

Stonehenge, Barcoo Area
  • Free WiFi
From AU$5.00 - 15.00
The Stonehenge Caravan Park is centrally located in Stonehenge diagonally across from the hotel, the hub of the town. The park has fourteen powered sites but ample room for extra vans or tents. An ablution block complete with unisex facilities for guests with a disability are provided.

Jundah Caravan Park

Jundah, Barcoo Area
From AU$5.00 - 15.00
The Jundah Caravan Park is located at northern end of Dickson Street, as you head towards Longreach, with access to the park from Dickson Street. The Caravan Park has recently been completed and hosts new facilities, ablution block with laundry and separate BBQ area with a view towards the Thomson River.

Albert Park Motor Inn

Longreach, Longreach Area
From AU$124 - 184
The Albert Park Motor Inn is one of the finest quality establishments in western Queensland with 56 spacious rooms, the Oasis Restaurant and Bar, resort style pool complex and a modern Conference and Function Centre.

Ammonite Inn Motel

Richmond, Richmond Area
  • Free WiFi
From AU$120 - 160
The Ammonite Inn (Richmond, Queensland) is your place to stay on the Overlander's Way. The Motel has a licensed restaurant 'Rivers', conference facilities and a swimming pool. There is spacious undercover parking and all rooms are air-conditioned.

Abajaz Motor Inn

Longreach, Longreach Area
  • Free WiFi
From AU$120 - 160
The Abajaz Motor Inn invite you to enjoy friendly, country hospitality in their quiet, comfortable and clean rooms. The Abajaz is perfectly located midway along the walking track that links the renown Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, Qantas Founders Museum and School of the Air with the town centre.

Barcaldine Country Motor Inn

Barcaldine, Barcaldine Area
  • Free WiFi
From AU$80 - 130
The Barcaldine Country Motor Inn is a quality air-conditioned motel situated on the corner of the Capricorn and Landsborough Highways. The motel has 20 clean and comfortable rooms, for the comfort of the guests there are tables and chairs outside the rooms where you can take in the beautiful manicured lawns.
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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).