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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Finch Hatton Gorge

Finch Hatton, Mackay Area
Free Entry
A wonderful landscape of waterfalls, lush flora and volcanic boulder formations make Finch Hatton Gorge a must-see attraction. There are many walking tracks which weave through sub-tropical rainforest.

Coppabella

Coppabella, Isaac Area
The town of Coppabella is a small community which lies approximately 159 kilometres south-west of Mackay. Recognised for its large mining monument at the entrance of the town, Coppabella was designed to service the junction of two railway lines, one from Goonyella Mine and the other from Saraji Mine.

The Singapore Shipwreck Dive Site - Keswick Island

Keswick Island, Mackay Area
Free Entry
The Singapore was bound for Sydney from Hong Kong when she struck what is now called 'Singapore Rock' sometime in January 1877. Fortunately, no lives were lost. The Singapore was a 964 ton single screw steamer with a length of 87 metres and a width of 10 metres.

Eungella Dam

Eungella, Mackay Area
From AU$5 - 5
Eungella Dam is a scenic lake fringed by rainforest, the ideal spot for boating and skiing with peaceful natural surrounds. Camping is by self-registration on-site. No motorbikes allowed. Fishing permits are required and can be obtained from local tackle shops and Mackay Tourism.

Sarina

Sarina, Mackay Area
Located at the foothills of the Connors Range south of Mackay, Sarina's town centre is a blend of natural country charm, while having developed into a thriving business area. Enjoy the friendly hospitality, beautiful beaches, prime fishing and prawning available nearby.

Hardy Reef

Whitsundays, Whitsunday Area
Free Entry
Hardy Reef, on the Great Barrier Reef off Airlie Beach, is home to the Reefworld Pontoon. There is spectacular fish life with Trevally, Coral Trout, Snapper and a host of smaller marine life as well as Giant Maori Wrasse and a two metre long Giant Queensland Groper that usually congregate for a free feed.

Marian

Marian, Mackay Area
Marian is the gateway to the Pioneer Valley and is situated approximately 30 kilometres west of Mackay. This riverside town is home to the region's largest sugar mill; all sugar cane grown in the Valley is now crushed at this mill.

Basil Bay on Keswick Island

Keswick Island, Mackay Area
Free Entry
The beautiful Basil Bay is Keswick Island's prime swimming beach. Located on the western side of the island, Basil Bay boasts crystal clear water at high tide, crisp white sand and gentle shade trees - making it an idyllic spot to enjoy your quintessential island adventure.

Shoal Point

Shoal Point, Mackay Area
Free Entry
Shoal Point is the northern-most community of the Northern Beaches group, with a visually spectacular coastal beach. At low tide, the beach can almost be mistaken as a small sweeping desert. The sand stretches for hundreds of metres, allowing a close-up view of Green Reef Island.

Bees on Keswick Island

Keswick Island, Mackay Area
Free Entry
Keswick Island is home to thriving hives of purebred Caucasian bees. Unlike bees on the Australian mainland, these bees are free of many other diseases and are sometimes used as breeding stock for the mainland colonies.
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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).