Follow the sun as you journey west from the reef to the outback without leaving the bitumen on this fun-filled adventure drive.
Townsville, Charters Towers, Hughenden, Richmond, Cloncurry, Mount Isa, Camooweal
|Travel time||5 days|
|Time of year to go||April to September|
|Best bakery||Holdens Bakery, Hughenden|
|Highlights||Historic Charters Towers, Porcupine Gorge, Kronosaurus Korner, Hard Times Mine, Underground Hospital and Camooweal Caves.|
|RACQ safety tip||Check Queensland road conditions, bring food, water and fuel supplies. Take a break every two hours and watch for road trains.|
Townsville to Charters Towers, 137km
(via Flinders Hwy/A6)()
It’s a 90-minute drive back in time when you drive from coastal Townsville to Charters Towers, once the second largest city in Queensland. Follow the Ghosts of Gold Heritage Trail through the area called One Square Mile and admire the elegant streetscape, including the grand Stock Exchange Arcade where fortunes were made and lost in minutes back in the gold rush glory days of the 1870s.
Charters Towers to Hughenden, 248km
(via Flinders Hwy/A6)
A highlight of this section of the drive is the grand sandstone canyon at Porcupine Gorge, around 60km north of Hughenden. Some 100 million years ago much of western Queensland was an inland sea; the muddy bed a dinosaur graveyard. Snap a selfie with Mutt, a life-seized replica of the Muttaburrasaurus, the first ever intact dinosaur skeleton found in Australia – you can’t miss him, he’s 7m high and one of the biggest things in Hughenden – and check out the dinosaur bones and fossils on display at the Flinders Discovery Centre.
Hughenden to Richmond, 116km
(via Flinders Hwy/A6)
There are more prehistoric finds on show at Richmond’s Kronosaurus Korner, home of the Richmond Pliosaur, an armoured dinosaur skeleton called Minmi, several kronosauruses and lots of icthyosuraus. Many were unearthed in the Richmond fossil hunting area, signposted 12km from town, where you can fossick for free (all you need is a small pick or a chisel and hammer) and the museum staff will identify anything you find.
Richmond to Mount Isa, 406km
(via A6 and National Route 83)
It’s a long day on the road, so take time out to enjoy a therapeutic soak in the Artesian Bath House and check out the cheeky dunnarts in Julia Creek. Visit the John Flynn Place Museum and Art Gallery in Cloncurry to learn about the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and its lifesaving work. Explore the deserted remains of modern-day ghost town Mary Kathleen, before winding through the Selwyn Ranges towards Mount Isa.
Mount Isa to Camooweal, 190km
The Mount Isa Mines Rodeo, held each August, is the largest and richest in the southern hemisphere, but outside of rodeo week, one of the best things to do is to go below ground. Ride a steel cage 22m down a mine shaft at the Hard Times Mine, and explore the underground hospital, built during WWII but never actually used. Around 189km further west – although still considered a suburb of Mount Isa – the sinkholes of Camooweal Caves National Park are thought to be more than 500 million years old.
Images: Tourism and Events Queensland and Garry Norris.
Taking your own road trip?
RACQ can help you on your way, whether it’s providing maps and guides for your journey, car hire, discounted motorhome hire with Apollo Motorhome Holidays, insurance or roadside assistance so you’re covered 24/7 on your trip.