The Overlander’s Way is more than just a route from Townsville to Mount Isa. Tied closely with Australian history, the Overlander’s Way follows the footsteps of rugged cattle drovers who made the path of this now defined road back in the 1800s. The journey of the cattle drovers gave this 1,100 kilometre stretch of road its name of the Overlander’s Way.
From the beach to the bush, with a guarantee of countless moments filled with sunsets, gorges, and dinosaur remnants, prepare yourself for an adventure of a lifetime.
Discover the Overlander’s Way with our 5 day itinerary, which allows you to break down your journey and truly take in all there is to see along the way.
Day 1 – Townsville to Charters Towers
The first day entails 137 kilometres of driving, taking up approximately an hour and a half of your time.
Starting your journey in Townsville, the North Queensland city is known for being the sun in the Sunshine State, take in the amazing views here. Look East to gaze upon the wonders of Magnetic Island, North and South for the national parks that surround, and West for the real adventure of the Outback.
Heading South West will bring you in the direction of Charters Towers. A town with a rich history in gold back in the 19th century, you will be surprised to learn that Charters Towers was once the second biggest city in Queensland after Brisbane.
Of all the attractions in Charters Towers, the absolute highlight to visit is Leanton Park. Home to the Guinness World Record Holder J.R., who has horns that stretch an impressive 3 metres from tip to tip, Leahton Park has the largest purebred herd of Texas longhorn cattle in Australia.
For those who are camping or in a caravan, head to the Bivouac Junction for some feel good inland fishing. If you’re a bit more daring, why not check into Kernow, a former asylum.
Day 2 – Charters Towers to Hughenden
A decent two and a half hour drive, Charters Towers and Hughenden are 248 kilometres apart.
Continue your journey West through the Burra Range heading for Pentland. The small town is known for its historic police lock up. To refuel, indulge in the Pentland Post Office Cafe with burgers that will have you salivating and eyes twinkling in delight for the magnificent find.
For those driving a 4WD, a detour to White Mountains National Park is a must. Get to it wheels dirty as you maneuver your way through the Sawpit Gorge and Poison Valley. Here, off-roading is your life now as sandstone heaths and large lateritic stones surround you. Those who travel from May to September will experience fields of wildflowers that will make you feel like you’re in dreamland.
Don’t take too long wandering around, as your goal is to have your first experience of dinosaur country, known as Hughenden.
Renowned for being dinosaur country, there are over 3000 fossils discovered in this area alone. Famous bones include the Queensland Pterosaur and the Muttaburrasaurus. To see these for your own eyes, visit the Flinders Discovery Centre and awe at Hughie, the 7 metre skeleton Muttaburrasaurus. Other attractions include a sound and light show which recreates the changes in formation of the region over a 500 million period. For those who prefer a more hands on experience, skip out on the show and head an hour North to Porcupine Gorge to see the ancient formations yourself.
The Royal Hotel in Hughenden promises comfort and air-conditioned luxury, with units large enough for families and even self-contained options for those DIY dinners. Those who are camping or caravanning should head to the Hughenden Terry Allen Caravan Park for the night.
Day 3 – Hughenden to Richmond
The drive from Hughenden to Richmond is a short hour and 15 minutes away, taking only 116 kilometres of your time.
Your first tip of the day should be Kronosaurus Korner, home to Minmi, who is an almost complete ankylosaurus skeleton.
Grab a map and have a crack at fossil king at a designated site. The unearthed treasures await you, and if you do find one, don’t forget to bring it back to the centre to be identified and recorded. For the winners who find a good one, commemoration goes to you along with a dinosaur named after you!
It’s time to enjoy some much needed rest and relaxation at the Ammonite Inn. With a licensed restaurant on site, you won’t have to shuffle to and fro for a drink and a meal. Those who have a caravan should pull up at the Lakeview Caravan Park, which promises awesome views of Lake Fred Tritton, Bush Tucker Gardens, and Jack Brown Lions Park.
Day 4 – Richmond to Cloncurry
The longest journey of the Outlander Way, your drive from Richmond to Cloncurry takes three hours, 286 kilometres.
Visit Julia Creek, a famous Outback Queensland sight. Keep an eye out for the rare and endangered marsupial known as the Julia Creek dunnart. If you can’t find one, visit the Julia Creek Visitor Centre to meet the adorable resident dunnart, Digby.
For those who are here in April, make it a point to catch the Julia Creek Dirt n Dust Festival, which is a three day event.
Get back on the road, and your journey is just another 90 minutes to Cloncurry. Visit the Cloncurry Unearthed Museum to see expedition artifacts, including the doomed explorer’s water bottle and some Indigenous spears.
Spoil yourself with some fresh produce in the Gidgee Inn’s restaurant, and stay the night. Campers and caravanners should head to Discovery Park, which spoils patrons with a breakfast buffet that serves steak.
Day 5 – Cloncurry to Mount Isa
Your last day on the road, the journey from Cloncurry to Mount Isa is a short hour and a half, a 122 kilometre drive.
Today, the Overlander’s Way journey takes a hilly twist through the Selwyn Ranges which is known for its gold, lead, zinc, and copper.
A step into Mount Isa will have you at the heart of the Aussie outback in Queensland. With plenty of attractions that draw in massive crowds every year, there is something for everyone. Experience what it was like to be a miner in the Mount Isa Mine – the world’s largest sole producer of silver, lead, zinc and copper. Time your visit right to enjoy the Mount Isa Rodeo, in celebration of Mount Isa being the Southern Hemisphere’s richest rodeo.
Begin your adventure at the Mount Isa Visitor Information Centre to help you figure out where to start, based on your interests. The Centre is home to the Hard Times Mine Underground Tour, Mount Isa Regional Art Gallery, Isa Experience and Outback Park, Riversleigh Fossil Centre, the Outback Cafe, and the Mount Isa Fish Hatchery Project.
Catch an amazing Outback sunset at the Mount Isa City lookout, offering astonishing panoramic views of the whole town.
Experience real Mount Isa hospitality at the Isa Hotel where comfort and exceptional value for money is met. Positioned at the heart of town, the location could not be any better to explore the major attractions of Mount Isa. Boasting amazing food, excellent customer service, comfort, and everything you could ask for in a quality accommodation, a stay at the Isa Hotel will complete your Mount Isa outback experience.
Image credit: Tourism Central Australia