Ancient Outback Mount Isa Loop

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 unique towns such as Julia Creek, Cloncurry, Richmond, Hughenden and Winton. 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
N/A
Distance
1210 Kilometres

Activities

  • Birdwatching
  • Camping
  • Hiking/Trekking
  • Off Road Driving

Other Information

Family Friendly:

Family friendly – please refer to operator's website for services and facilities.

Full Itinerary

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.

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.

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
Mode of Travel 4x4, Car, Caravan, Four Wheel Drive
Distance 406 kms
Route Type One Way
Richmond to Winton, Via Hughenden

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
Mode of Travel 4x4, Car, Caravan, Four Wheel Drive
Distance 330 kms
Route Type One Way
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
Mode of Travel 4x4, Car, Caravan, Four Wheel Drive
Distance 468 kms
Route Type One Way
Level of Difficulty Level 1: Suitable for the disabled with assistance

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Wondai

Wondai, South Burnett Area
Wondai is the ideal place from which to explore local art and craft, museums and Lake Boondooma. Between the towns of Murgon and Kingaroy, Wondai features cattle and grain growing country as well as grasslands interspersed with eucalypt forests.

Wooroolin Wetland

Wooroolin, South Burnett Area
Free Entry
The Wooroolin Wetland is located at the township of Wooroolin, 16 kilometres north of Kingaroy along the Bunya Highway. Wooroolin Wetlands was declared a fauna sanctuary in 1973, now classified as a palustrine wetland, a non-tidal, inland, seasonally flooded, vegetated swamp.

Gordonbrook Dam

Kingaroy, South Burnett Area
Free Entry
Gordonbrook Dam is the sole water supply for Kingaroy and a peaceful spot to unwind. Originally built in 1941 as a water supply for the Royal Australian Air Force Training Base during WWII, the dam wall was raised in 1987 to inundate an area of 229 hectares - the dam we have today.

Bunya Mountains National Park

Bunya Mountains, South Burnett Area
Free Entry
Experience a spellbinding landscape where spectacular bunya pines tower over tall rainforest along a mountain range that rises dramatically from the surrounding plains. Soak up stunning mountain scenery and spot a diverse range of wildlife as you explore on foot.

Bunya Mountains

Bunya Mountains, South Burnett Area
The South Burnett offers easy access to the majestic Bunya Mountains, which, at an elevation of over 1,100 metres above sea level, are the region’s high point. Less than an hour from either Maidenwell or Kingaroy, via Kumbia, this natural wonderland is an offshoot of the Great Dividing Range formed about 30 million years ago and shelters the largest ancient bunya pine forest in the world today.

Goomeri

Goomeri, Gympie Area
Goomeri is a former timber town that retains a relaxed old-world atmosphere. Many of Goomeri’s buildings were constructed in the 1920s and retain all their original charm.  The town is steeped in history, the ‘Lest We Forget’ town clock built in 1939 has become a landmark, earning Goomeri the name of ‘Clocktown’.

Nanango Fauna Reserve

Nanango, South Burnett Area
Free Entry
Just ten minutes out of Nanango, the peaceful Nanango Fauna Reserve offers many different environments to explore, from seasonal waterholes to eucalypt woodland, acacia scrub, and dry vine scrub. It is a bird watcher's delight with a variety of species to be found including the Yellow-Faced Honeyeater, Australian Darter, Varied Sittella, Nankeen Night Heron, and Little Black and Little Pied Cormorant.

Booie Range

Booie, South Burnett Area
What a view! On the northern outskirts of Kingaroy, the Booie Range is fast gaining a reputation as a tourist must-do thanks to wineries, cellar doors, dining and boutique accommodation. The Range offers majestic panoramic views spanning hundreds of kilometres – north-east beyond Bjelke-Petersen Dam toward Gympie;

Yarraman

Yarraman, Toowoomba Area
Fringed by hoop pine plantation forests, bunya pines and picturesque grazing countryside, the timber town of Yarraman sits at the junction of the D'Aguilar and New England Highways. Hotel/motel, B&B, caravan park and cabin accommodation is available.

Moore

Moore, Somerset Area
Are you looking for a charming country town with the creature comforts of the city such as stunning cafes, art and walking trails. When you arrive at Moore be sure to stop in at the Moore Soldier's Memorial Hall.
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