Natural Encounters Trail

Multiple Locations

Meet the locals in Boulia, learn the yarn of the mysterious Min Min Light then follow the Natural Encounter Trail to Winton (around 492 kilometres). Along the way, explore the Diamantina National Park, named one of Australia's top 10 National Parks. Learn about the desert landscape on the Warracoota Circuit Drive and visit important wetland habitats. Travel across ancient mesas, gullies and broken escarpments to the world's only known dinosaur stampede site. Visit the beautiful Bladensburg National Park, home to unique birdlife, plants and animals and an area of important Indigenous and pastoral heritage. Take a guided tour of the world's largest collection of Australia dinosaur fossils at Australian Age of Dinosaurs and discover the majestic Jump Up landscapes surrounding Winton.

Journey Details

Duration
N/A
Distance
559 Kilometres

Activities

  • Birdwatching
  • Camping
  • Canoeing

Other Information

Family Friendly:

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

Full Itinerary

Lark Quarry to Bladensburg National Park

Drive north on the Winton-Jundah Road to the turn-off for Bladensburg National Park just seven kilometres south west of Winton. The beautiful 84900 hectare national park boasts impressive flat-topped plateaus and residual sandstone ranges which provide a scenic backdrop to vast grassland plains and river flats, river red gums and rocky scarp. Roads within the park are formed dirt roads more suited to Four Wheel Drive vehicles. Conventional vehicles can access Bladensburg only during dry weather, and a high clearance Four Wheel Drive vehicle is recommended at all times. Bladensburg National Park is open all year however wet weather may cause temporary closures. Camp beside Surprise Creek at the permanent Bough Shed waterhole.

For information or permits visit the National Parks website.

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Route Details
Mode of Travel 4x4, Four Wheel Drive
Route Type One Way
Suggested Stops
lark quarry to Bladensburg national park
Bladensburg National Park to Winton

Departing Bladensburg National Park, continue on the Winton-Jundah Road north to Winton, in big sky country, which has a rich history as the birthplace of Waltzing Matilda and QANTAS, and links to the 1891 Great Shearers' Strike. The region has diverse natural history and spectacular Jump Up landscapes.

Winton's attractions include the Australian Age of Dinosaurs which houses the world's largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils. Experience Winton's free attractions - play a tune on the world's first permanent Musical Fence, take a self-guided walk through possibly the last working Chinese market garden in Queensland, and marvel at Arno's Wall where everything can be found! With five days of outback entertainment, the biennial Outback Festival is held over the 3rd week in September. The famous Winton Camel Races and the Vision Splendid Film Festival are held annually in July.

Winton is approximately 179 kilometres north west of Longreach. Rex Air operates twice weekly flights to Winton from Townsville and there is a twice-weekly "Spirit of the Outback" Rail/Coach service from Brisbane. Motels, caravan parks and free campsites are available. Stay connected with free Wi-Fi in Winton's main street.

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Route Details
Mode of Travel 4x4, Four Wheel Drive
Route Type One Way
Suggested Stops
Bladensburg to Winton
Boulia

Beginning the Trail in Boulia, visit the Min Min Encounter for a unique theatrical experience based around the famed Min Min Light phenomenon. Call into the well-preserved Stonehouse Museum, one of the first homes built in Western Queensland, which is also home to a Marine Reptile Fossil exhibit - evidence that Boulia was part of an Inland Sea 100 million years ago. See the last recognised Corroboree tree of the Pitta Pitta tribe - a distinctive Waddi tree - located near the Boulia Sports and Aquatic Centre.

Drive approximately 25 kilometres out of town to the Old Police Barracks site (1875-1884). An ideal spot for fishing, bird watching and taking in the tranquility of this pretty bush setting, the campsite at this natural waterhole had great spiritual significance to the local people. The Boulia Rodeo, Races and Campdraft is a major event at Easter, and the famous Boulia Camel Races are held every third weekend in July.

Accommodation options in Boulia include a hotel/motel, motel, caravan park and bush camping. Rex Air operates twice-weekly flights into Boulia from Brisbane. Nearest hire car facility is Mount Isa Airport (approximately 3 hours drive). Contact the Min Min Encounter Information Centre for information.

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Route Details
Mode of Travel 4x4, Four Wheel Drive
Route Type Circuit
Suggested Stops
Boulia circuit
Boulia to Diamantina National Park

Drive approximately two and a half hours south east of Boulia to the Diamantina National Park. The Worldwide Fund for Nature has named it one of Australia's top 10 National Parks. This 507000 hectare park is home to many rare and threatened species. Lake Constance and Hunters Gorge are important wetlands and support breeding populations of many resident and migratory birds.

Diamantina National Park was formerly a pastoral holding and became a national park in 1992. In the past, Maiawali and Karuwali Aboriginal people moved through every part of this landscape. Their strong spiritual connections remain today. While in the park, sample a range of outdoor activities - canoeing on Hunters Gorge (own canoe), wildlife spotting, exploring the Warracoota Ruins and taking in the sights at Janet's Leap Lookout. A Four Wheel Drive vehicle with high clearance is necessary as many outback roads are unsealed and wheel ruts can be deep. Take extra fuel. Open all year however wet weather may cause temporary closures. Visiting is recommended from April to September. Camping is permitted at Hunters Gorge and Gum Hole camping areas.

For information on permits visit the National Parks website.

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Route Details
Mode of Travel 4x4, Four Wheel Drive
Route Type One Way
Suggested Stops
Boulia to Diamantina National Park
Diamantina National Park to Lark Quarry Conservation Park

Proceed north approximately 132 kilometres on the unsealed Diamantina River Road before heading east approximately 67 kilometres on the Old Cork Road to Lark Quarry Conservation Park. The Dinosaur Stampede at Lark Quarry Conservation Park is where over 3,300 dinosaur tracks mark the site of the only known dinosaur stampede on the planet - these tracks are estimated to be about 95 million years old. There are guided tours of the Trackways, which take almost an hour and a self guided Spinifex Walk takes 15-30 minutes.

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Route Details
Mode of Travel 4x4, Four Wheel Drive
Distance 132 kms
Route Type One Way
Suggested Stops
Diamantina to Lark Quarry

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Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Smithfield, Cairns Area
From AU$51 - 210
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is a unique rainforest experience, taking you on an unforgettable journey over and through Australia's World Heritage listed Tropical Rainforests. Spanning seven and a half kilometres in the Barron Gorge National Park, Skyrail Rainforest Cableway glides just metres over the canopy, its comfortable six-person gondola cabins providing spectacular views of the rainforest, tropical Cairns, the Coral Sea and lush Cairns Highlands.

Mossman Gorge Centre

Mossman, Douglas Area
From AU$9.50 - 9.50
Visit Mossman Gorge and experience the Daintree World Heritage Rainforest with pristine waterfalls, mountains and vivid flora and fauna, all the while getting lost in its enchanting stories and rich Indigenous heritage.

Daintree Discovery Centre

Cow Bay, Douglas Area
From AU$32 - 32
A multi-award winner, the Discovery Centre is nestled in the heart of the rainforest, 10 kilometres north of the Daintree River. The Centre is a 'must see' for anyone visiting the area and where you can experience the rainforest at every level - from the forest floor to the upper most reaches of the canopy.

Agincourt Reef

Port Douglas,
Free Entry
Agincourt Reef, off Port Douglas on the Great Barrier Reef, is a series of many smaller reefs with at least 16 different dive sites. The Channels offer interesting swim-throughs and caves, while The Gardens are renowned for their exceptional abundance of brightly coloured reef fish.

Daintree

Daintree, Cairns Area
Stretching from Daintree Village across the river, the Daintree encompasses Cape Kimberley, Cow Bay, Thornton's Peak, Cooper Creek, Thornton Beach, Noah Valley, Cape Tribulation and the Bloomfield Track to the north.

Turtle Bommie

Cairns, Cairns Area
Turtles are often encountered on the dive sites off Cairns and a good place to encounter one is Turtle Bommie. This magic dive site is located off Saxon Reef, with the terrain made up of coral gardens and a collection of small and large bommies in depths to 15 metres.

Silver City Dive Site

Cairns, Cairns Area
Silver City is a great dive site where divers can explore a network of caves, a maze of bommies and a sheer wall of coral. Located on the western side of Osprey Reef, Silver City is often a good place to encounter silvertip sharks, but far more common are the whitetip reef sharks and grey reef sharks.

Cooktown

Cooktown, Cook Area
With bitumen all the way along the 330 kilometre inland Mulligan Highway from Cairns, Cooktown is easy to get to. If you want a more adventurous route, go four wheel-driving along the coastal Bloomfield Track crossing rivers and creeks through World Heritage-listed rainforest and join the highway at the mysterious pile of rocks known as Black Mountain.

Norman Reef Dive Site

Port Douglas,
Norman Reef is the most northern reef visited by charter boats from Cairns and has numerous dive sites located off its sheltered western side. Located on the outer edge of the reef, Norman Reef is blessed with clear water and a wonderful range of marine life.

Green Island Dive Site

Green Island, Cairns Area
Green Island is the closest coral reef to Cairns, and located on the inner side of the reef it doesn’t have the crystal clear water found on the outer reefs. However, this pretty coral cay is a great place to snorkel, and also has a few good dive sites.
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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).