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Unearth Charisma on the Overlander’s Way

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Queensland’s famed Overlander’s Way offers travellers a glimpse of the best that Australia’s Sunshine State has to offer. From island to outback, the trail is laden with timeworn treasures, charming tropical spectacles and red ochre landscapes.

Townsville to Charters Towers – 137 kilometres

Boasting more than 300 days of sunshine each year, Townsville is the perfect place to shake off your winter blues and start your spring holiday. With stunning tropical islands, expansive rainforests and breathtaking alfresco dining destinations, visitors will never be left wanting.

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After your (mandatory) visit to the remarkable Great Barrier Reef, continue your exploration of colourful sea life with a visit to the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and then head to Townsville’s Maritime Museum. Here, visitors can expect to discover lighthouses, artefacts from both the Defender and Yongala shipwrecks, the Royal Australian Navy’s own HMAS Townsville, and plenty more.

City Lane, Townsville’s first creative laneway precinct, is a haven for those eager to taste cuisines from every corner of the globe. It’s a New York–inspired laneway with an upbeat and trendy atmosphere to match.

Charters Towers to Hughenden – 246 kilometres

For the history buffs among us, Charters Towers is the place to be. Discover Australia’s wartime history on the First World War Digital Heritage Trail and on tours of the town’s World War II Bunkers.

If you’re eager to hear peculiar tales about ghostly characters, the Ghosts of Gold Heritage Trail is sure to delight. Even if you’re not interested in stories of phantoms, the trail covers the highlights of the town, including One Square Mile, the Stock Exchange Arcade, the Towers Hill Lookout and Queensland’s oldest stamp battery, the Venus Gold Battery.

Charters Towers is also the perfect base for four-wheel driving adventures, with five trails of different lengths and difficulties all offering picturesque sights and natural displays.

Hughenden to Richmond – 115 kilometres

On the trail from Hughenden to Richmond, you’ll venture into rugged scenes of black soil plains and mountainous volcanic basalt country. Start in Hughenden’s Porcupine National Park, where explorers can discover sedimentary rocks spanning hundreds of millions of years. Walking tracks wind above the gorge, where intermittent waterholes and clear creeks weave through the brilliant Pyramid camping ground at its base.

Hughenden is known for its Flinders Discovery Centre, which is home to an amazing collection of fossils and gems from both local and global sites. A life-size replica of the Muttaburrasaurus, named ‘Hughie’, is the star of the show.

Richmond to Julia Creek – 149 kilometres

The outback town of Richmond is best known for its marine fossil discoveries. Head to Kronosaurus Korner for a prehistoric adventure, where you’ll unearth ‘Krono’ (Kronosaurus queenslandicus), a 10-metre tall marine reptile, ‘Penny’ the pliosaur, Australia’s most complete marine vertebrae fossil, and plenty more. Continue your exploration of ancient history on Australia’s Dinosaur Trail, where you’ll have access to free fossicking sites to try your luck at finding a fossil of your own.

In town, follow the Heritage Walk to 21 local historical and cultural sites of interest, before continuing your venture into the town’s past with a visit to the Roman Catholic Church and the Moon Rocks Monument. Park yourself for a night or two at Lakeview Caravan Park, a friendly outback park with a fantastic view of Lake Fred Tritton, where you can fish for barramundi at the end of a long day of sightseeing.

Julia Creek to Cloncurry – 137 kilometres

The next leg of your trip on the Overlander’s Way will take you to the north-western town of Julia Creek, home to the endangered furry marsupial, the Julia Creek dunnart, which was thought to be extinct until 1992. Catch sight of this rare creature by paying Duncan the dunnart a visit at the town’s visitor’s centre.

Free camping sites are available on the water’s edge for four days – so you may as well make the most of the time you have to explore this peaceful town. For those looking to step up their level of luxury, a stay at the Julia Creek Caravan Park won’t go amiss. Join in the fun of one of the park’s famed Bush Dinners, or unwind in an artesian bathhouse while sipping fine wine and lapping up brilliant outback views.

Cloncurry to Mount Isa – 120 kilometres

Also known as the ‘friendly heart of the great north-west’, the town of Conclurry will welcome visitors with open arms. Start your adventure at the Cloncurry Unearthed Museum. It holds gem and mineral displays, artefacts and photographs of local Indigenous history, as well as remnants from the Mary Kathleen Uranium Mine and township.

Today, what used to be the town of Mary Kathleen has transformed into a ghost town. The abandoned mine site is its main feature, and a venture into its heart makes for a great activity for the whole family and is a perfect photo opportunity.

Chinaman Creek Dam, a 10-minute drive out of town, is a great stopover before you head out to Mount Isa. Bring a picnic blanket and set yourself up beside the dam to watch the sun set over Mount Leviathan.

Mount Isa to Camooweal – 192 kilometres

Colloquially known as the ‘oasis of the outback’, Mount Isa is truly a blossoming region. The City Tour will give those who are strapped for time the best look at the city’s unique offerings. Attractions include diverse flora from the region, old mining infrastructure, a historical railway, an arts precinct, and the home of rodeo in Mount Isa, Buchanan Park.

Don some orange overalls and a hardhat, and take part in the rich mining history of the town in the Hard Times Mining Tour before stopping in at Buffs Club, in the city’s centre, to refuel. Tojo’s Highway, the road from Mount Isa to Camooweal that forms the gateway to the Northern Territory from Queensland, is an attraction in itself. It was built with American funds during World War II, and was made to provide a link between the southern states and the ‘front line’ in the Northern Territory.

Camooweal to Tennant Creek – 470 kilometres

Queensland’s most westerly town, Camooweal, is a charming rural town dotted with rustic sights. Freckleton’s Store, which was built in 1900, embodies the quintessential characteristics of early corrugated iron outback buildings. Visit the Drovers Camp Shed and discover the town’s droving history, with photos, maps, artwork and other memorabilia commemorating the development of Australia’s cattle industry.

Your journey on the Overlander’s Way ends in the Northern Territory, with Tennant Creek the last destination on the route. Visit the Nyinkka Nyunyu Art and Culture Centre for a glimpse of Warumungu land, culture, history and language. A strong mining heritage is also an important part of this town, which you can discover at the Battery Hill Mining Centre.

North-eastern detour: Queensland’s coastal marvels

Before you start your journey on the Overlander’s Way, make the most of Queensland’s sunny northern region, boasting many unique seasonal natural displays. See some of the state’s most idyllic beaches, birdwatching locations and national parks in Cook Shire. Cooktown has world-class fishing spots, fantastic four-wheel drive trails and marvellous community markets. The nearby Hope Vale and Elim Beach provide top spots for unwinding, with dazzling tangles of natural shades in the famous Coloured Sands.

Finish your journey on a high with an adventure along The Rainforest Coast. Sacred waterfalls, quirky wildlife, secret beaches and plenty of beautiful sights await those who explore the wetland wonders of Rossville, Wujal Wujal, Bloomfield and Ayton.

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