About This Drive
Duration: 7 days
Route: Townsville - Hughenden - Julia Creek - Winton - Townsville (loop)
Leaving from Townsville, head west to Outback Queensland for a dinosaur adventure! Take a Ghost Walk Tour of Charters Towers, meet ‘Hughie’ the Muttaburrasaurus on The Dinosaur Trail, picnic at Porcupine Gorge National Park, see the marine fossil giants at Kronosaurus Korner, get up close to one of Australia’s vanishing species, visit the birthplace of Waltzing Matilda, tour the Australian Age of Dinosaurs. Try your luck at opal fossicking and climb aboard a Texas Longhorn Wagon Tour
Day 1: Townsville to Charters Towers via Herveys Range (209km)
Leaving the beaches of Townsville behind, head west and wind your way up Hervey Range. As you near the top of the Range, be sure to take in the expansive view of the coastline below. Can you spot Castle Hill? Magnetic Island? The stadium of the North Queensland Cowboys?
Wind the windows down as you inhale the scent from coast to country, chasing the sun westward while driving through cattle stations and changing scenery. Today you are bound for the historic gold mining town of Charters Towers. For a comfort stop along the way, call into Herveys Range Heritage Tea Rooms for a cuppa with locals.
Arriving into Charters Towers in time for lunch, there’s something for everyone in ‘The Towers’- take a Ghost Walk Tour, spend the afternoon fossicking or explore the Heritage Trail.
Overnight Charters Towers
Day 2: Charters Towers to Hughenden (248km)
This morning, point your family towards the west and follow the Overlanders Way out to dinosaur country! Along the way, take time to call into the townships of Pentland and Torrens Creek for a bite to eat and enjoy the country hospitality of these towns.
Roll on with the road trains into Hughenden, your destination for the evening. Located on the edge of the inland sea, Hughenden is home to the Flinders Discovery Centre & Museum. Spend the afternoon meeting Hughie the Muttaburrasauras replica, viewing genuine dinosaur fossils from around the world and exploring this country hub.
Be sure to call in to a store before closing time to pick up supplies for tomorrow’s picnic!
Day 3: Hughenden – Day trip to Porcupine Gorge National Park (108km)
Start your day with a Truckies breakfast at one of the local roadhouses and fuel up before you leave town this morning.
Pack your swimming togs and towels, hats, sunscreen, jacket and a picnic, and head north on the fully sealed section of the Kennedy Development Road to Porcupine Gorge National Park for a day of exploration. Walk the Pyramid track, spot for wildlife and take in the views of the lookout.
Make your way back into Hughenden to arrive before the sun sets. Enjoy dinner at a country pub and rest up for tomorrow’s adventures.
Day 4: Hughenden to Julia Creek (264km)
There’s lots to see and do today so an early start is recommended. Follow the Dinosaur Trail west from Hughenden out to Richmond – home to Kronosaurus Korner, Australia’s Premier Marine Fossil Museum. Try your hand at fossicking for your very own fossil at one of then Richmond fossil sites and take it back to the Kronosaurus Korner for identification.
Enjoy lunch in Richmond before travelling on to Julia Creek, your destination for this evening.
Be sure to spend time ‘At the Creek’ and get up close to the Julia Creek Dunnart, one of Queensland’s ‘vanishing’ species. Pick up a cruiser bike, explore town or head to the local pool to cool off. Treat yourself to a unique Artesian Bath while staying at the Julia Creek Caravan Park.
Overnight Julia Creek
Day 5: Julia Creek to Winton (273km)
Set off this morning from Julia Creek on the southbound drive to Kynuna, home to the famous Blue Heeler Hotel. Watch brolgas dance in the dust while you stretch your legs before making the short drive to your lunch stop (you’ll need to have this on board before leaving town). Just east of Kynuna, off the Landsborough Highway, you’ll find the turnoff to Combo Waterhole Conservation Park and the true swagman’s billabong where the story of Waltzing Matilda is said to have taken place. Take the 2.5km return circuit walk (allow 40 mins return) to the waterhole and enjoy a picnic lunch “under the shade of a coolabah tree”.
After lunch, make your way on to Winton – the birthplace of both Waltzing Matilda and Qantas, and millions of years before either were thought of ……dinosaurs!
Check out the world’s largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs and join a guided interpretive tour of the laboratory and collection room. When you arrive, purchase a copy of the “Who Killed Matilda” activity book and solve all the problems to discover who really killed the giant sauropod.
Day 6: Winton to Prairie (260km)
With a whole morning at leisure before setting off for Prairie after lunch, there’s plenty of time to further explore Winton’s attractions. Play a tune on the world’s only musical fence and visit the Diamantina Heritage Truck & Machinery Museum. Take a stroll along the Opal Walk and call into Corfield and Fitzmaurice, Winton’s first general store. Be sure to stop by the bakery for ‘smoko’ to pick up some treats for this afternoon’s drive.
Waving Winton farewell, head north to Corfield for a comfort stop before continuing on to Hughenden. Just 30 minutes east of Hughenden is your destination for the evening at the tiny town of Prairie.
The Prairie Pub is a family friendly establishment laden to the rafters with antiques and collectables from times gone by. A wonderful opportunity to show the kids an array of items from old tools and saddlery to swagman’s hats and a tricycle. Dine in the historic building, enjoy a country-cooked meal and remember to step outside to view the incredible starry skies to round out the day.
Day 7: Prairie to Townsville (338km)
Depart at leisure today on the last leg of the journey for your return to Townsville.
Straddling the high point of the highway between Hughenden and Charters Towers is White Mountains National Park where you’ll find the Burra Range Lookout. Call in to get a bird’s eye view of the area, 30 minutes east of Prairie at Torrens Creek.
Did someone say Texas? No, you’re not lost, you’re still in our beautiful country. But for something you won’t see every day, just outside Charters Towers you’ll find the Texas Longhorn Wagon Tour and Safari and a beast with the longest horns in Australia. He’s a Guinness World Record Holder!
With the western sun in your rear view mirror, make the last leg of the drive back to Townsville. Oh, and if you missed the original Woodstock and always wished you’d been, here’s your chance to take a rest break just after the half way mark at Australia’s very own namesake town.
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