For over 100 years our pioneers have been discovering the Overlander’s Way. Today, travellers can follow in their footsteps on a 1550 kilometre driving adventure across the breadth of Queensland and the Northern Territory, linking the wonders of the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef to the rugged Aussie Outback.
Beginning at either the tropical city of Townsville or Tennant Creek, the heart of the Northern Territory, The Overlander’s Way offers sealed roads all the way for modern adventurers to travel with ease.
The Overlander’s Way follows the paths of our droving heroes who brought vast herds of live cattle from the east Kimberley to the coast. The route, which later served as an important supply line during World War II, takes in the Outback towns of Charters Towers, Hughenden, Richmond, Julia Creek, Cloncurry, Mount Isa and Camooweal on the Queensland-Northern Territory border and Tennant Creek.
The Overlander’s Way promises a journey rich with discovery, unspoilt natural beauty and friendly local characters. Along the way, you’ll also find a wide variety of attractions.
Before starting off on the Overlander’s Way, spend a few days in the city of Townsville. Townsville has come of age as the new “hot spot” for holidaying in the tropics! This progressive, modern and vibrant city is bustling with holiday ideas and experiences. The city has grown into a cosmopolitan hub of activity and ambience, from the magnificently restored heritage buildings, to the trendy outdoor cafés, restaurants, shops and galleries that add colour to the streetscapes. Get stranded! A visit to the Stand is essential when in Townsville. Undoubtedly one of the best inner-city beachfronts in Australia, the 2.5km of waterfront is sure to please everyone! Want to experience island life? A trip to Magnetic Island is a must. Only 8km from Townsville City Centre, visit this colourful and eclectic island retreat and relax, or join in the island’s village life. From Picnic Bay through Horseshoe Bay, the experience is friendly and delightfully tropical!
Inland 130km lies Charters Towers, the site of a massive gold rush in the late 19th century which resulted in the area becoming known as “The World”. This historic town boasts beautifully preserved architecture and a large number of parks and gardens. The Charters Towers “ghosts of gold” Heritage Trail brings to life this historic gold rush era. Start at the Visitor Information Centre then follow through to the Stock Exchange Arcade to see the “Calling of the Card”, an audio presentation re-enacting the trading of shares that once took place in this very arcade. Then on to the Venus Battery, the largest surviving battery relic in Australia. Interactive audio-visuals tell the story of how the mill operated and how the equipment was used to extract gold from the ore. In the evening visit Towers Hill to view a ½ hour film presentation of “ghosts after dark ”, which tells even more fascinating stories about the people who lived here in those days of gold, grandeur and greed. Along the way to Charters Towers you can turn off the highway at Mingela and drive just 40km to Ravenswood, a heritage-listed, working mining town with old mullock heaps, tall chimneys and 19th century pubs and other buildings. View the operations at the open cut mine from the lookout, or do a walking tour.
Ravenswood the old gold mining settlement, tucked away amongst the rolling hills is a small working mining town with mullock heaps, tall chimneys, and discarded mine machinery peppering the countryside. Continue on and you’ll discover Burdekin Falls Dam, holding 4 times as much as Sydney Harbour, you can camp, fish or picnic on its banks.
Call into the Flinders Discovery Centre and meet “Hughie”, a life sized Muttaburrasaurus, step back in time to over 500 million years ago at the Porcupine Gorge Light and Sound Show. Relive the battles and history of the shearing industry through its highs and lows in ‘Shearing the Straggler’. Wander the streets of Hughenden adorned with metal artwork or enjoy the new Eco Walk on Flinders with examples of different bioregions in the area. Get off the beaten track on one of many byway drives through sculptured landscapes, view the district a top of Mount Walker, promising a sunset you will never forget.
Halfway between Townsville and Mount Isa you will find a clean and tidy town with lush green parks and Lake Fred Tritton. Stay at the Richmond Lakeview Caravan Park, overlooking the Richmond Community Bush Tucker Gardens – a Banksia Foundation Environmental Award Finalist. While the kids play on the lake’s beach or water park, dad can do a spot of fishing, while mum takes a walk around the 1.2km walking path. Visit Kronosaurus Korner, and be amazed by marine fossils, the Richmond Pliosaur and Australia’s most complete dinosaur, the Minmi. Ask about Krono’s Kids Club and stop for a coffee in the Moon Rock Café. Got ‘fossil fever’? Then ask our friendly staff for a map of the free fossicking sites. There’s a little bit of Outback in everyone’s backyard and a whole lot more in Richmond.
Next is Julia Creek, one of the friendliest towns on the Overlander’s Way. The town comes alive each year in April, when the annual Dirt n Dust Festival takes place, including events such as a triathlon, horse races, PBR Bull ride, Australia’s Best Butt Competition and Bog Snorkelling. Only found in the Mitchell grass downs of North West Queensland, the Julia Creek Dunnart (Sminthopsis douglasi) is a small endangered, marsupial. The Julia Creek Visitor Information Centre works tirelessly to raise the profile of the Julia Creek Dunnarts. Make sure you catch their daily feeding shows of the Fat-tailed Dunnarts that they currently have on display. Julia Creek is an RV Friendly Town. Self-contained vans (toilet and shower on board) can camp by the water’s edge of Julia Creek for free for 96 hours. Please obtain a permit from the Visitor Information Centre.
Few places in Australia can claim to be as influential in shaping Australia’s identity as Cloncurry. Birthplace of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and destination of the first Qantas flight, it is a town that celebrates outback life the true Australian way. There are many ways to discover more about the region and its history. Visit John Flynn Place Museum & Art Gallery and learn about the beginnings of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the man who started it. Take the town’s heritage walk and admire the nostalgic architecture of yesteryear, including the art deco styled Cloncurry Shire Hall. Other features of Cloncurry include the historic streetscape, airport and the cemeteries of Chinese and Afghan graves. Take a break at the Cloncurry/Mary Kathleen Memorial Park Complex, with picnic area, playground, lookout, outdoor machinery display and also the Cloncurry Information Centre with the attached Museum which houses memorabilia from Cloncurry and the former uranium mine, Mary Kathleen. See the splendid rock and gem display and history of Burke and Wills, including Burke’s water bottle.
|Townsville to Charters Towers||137||1:39|
|Charters Towers to Hughenden||246||2:49|
|Hughenden to Richmond||115||1:17|
|Richmond to Julia Creek||149||1:36|
|Julia Creek to Cloncurry||137||1:37|
|Cloncurry to Mt Isa||120||1:6|
|Mt Isa to Camooweal||192||2:15|
|Camooweal to Tennant Creek||470||5:48|
From Cloncurry, the Overlander’s Way winds its way through the spectacular Selwyn Ranges where rugged red hills contrast with huge white gum trees to Mount Isa, one of the world’s great mining cities and home to the biggest and richest rodeo in the Southern Hempishere. Mount Isa’s Visitor Centre, Outback at Isa, is a onestop- shop. The precinct includes wonderful displays on the history and development of the city as well as the area’s prehistory that is unlocked at the Riversleigh Fossil Centre interpretive exhibit and laboratory. An underground mine experience has always been high on the list of the visitors to the Isa, and at Outback at Isa’s Award Winning Hard Times Mine you’ll be guided underground by a real Mount Isa miner, who’ll take you through the 1.2km of tunnels to experience what it’s like to be a real miner. Discover the city’s other many attractions like School of the Air, the unique Underground Hospital which was built during World War II, the National Trust Tent House, Lake Moondarra, Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park, the City Lookout or the Family Fun Park which is the largest all abilities playground in Queensland.
From “the Isa” it’s a further 188km west to the historic droving township of Camooweal, gateway to the Northern Territory. The remaining 443km over the Overlander’s Way takes travellers across the mighty Barkly Tablelands and through some spectacular Outback landscapes. The first major fuel and rest stop is the Barkly Homestead Wayside Inn which offers a full range of fuel and motoring services as well as comfortable motel accommodation and caravan and camping facilities including a swimming pool. The Overlander’s Way joins the Explorer’s Way at Three Ways, 187km from the Barkly Homestead where travellers can take a break, have a meal and refuel at this popular truck stop. Just 25km south is the mining township of Tennant Creek. One of this historic town’s main attractions is the Nyinkka Nyunyu Centre which showcases the culture of the local Waramungu people. Their culture can be experienced through personalised guided tours. Visitors can wander through the art gallery or relax in the Jajjikari Café. The Creek, 11km north from what is now the township of Tennant Creek, was named by one of the Territory’s early explorers, John McDouall Stuart during an expedition in 1860. The Creek later became a vital link in the Overland Telegraph Line during the 1870s and the gold rush era of the early 1900’s before the Tennant Creek township was established as a gold mining settlement in 1934.