Outback and Gulf - 15 days
Welcome to 15 days exploring Queensland's Outback and Gulf Country.
Monday 29 April to Monday 13 May
Monday 29 April 2019.
Gympie to Dalby
Welcome to our 15 day coach tour to Central Outback Queensland and the Gulf Country. After we have loaded the coach we are ready to go. We have a number of pickups this morning before heading out to Dalby for our first night on tour. We shall stop in KIngaroy for lunch along the way. Dalby and the surrounding Western Downs Shire are at the centre of rich coal and natural gas reserves which underpin the power generation industry for SE QLD. The region is also renowned for its rich agricultural land.
Country Pathfinder Motel, Dalby
Tuesday 30 April
Dalby to Charleville
We have an early start today as we have just over 500ks to travel with visits along the way! Our lunch stop will be at Roma where we have arranged a light lunch at the Big Rig Tourist Complex. We then enjoy a short tour of the Oil Patch, which features a giant 1920 Emsco Rig, the last steam driven rig in Australia, as well as the first diesel powered rig and several large trucks and other equipment. A series of 12 interactive and informative panels, audio presentations, landscape diorama showing the Roma landscape some 300 million years ago, provides the interpretation. This afternoon we continue through to Charleville. This evening we shall visit Charleville’s Cosmos Centre. The centre is an audio-visual extravaganza featuring hi-tech interactive displays that takes us on an astronomical journey through the ages, unravelling many mysteries of our night sky. Tonight we can enjoy the open-air observatory and view the outback night sky.
Wednesday 1 May
Charleville to Longreach
After a hearty breakfast we continue north to Blackall, home to the legendary gun shearer Jackie Howe and where he set the almost unbelievable record of shearing 321 sheep with blade shears in a day. A bronze statue now stands as a monument to the man and the achievement. From Blackall we head west to Isisford, a charming little settlement which has not changed significantly since the turn of the century. Banjo Paterson wrote Clancy of The Overflow here and today we enjoy lunch at Clancy’s Overflow Hotel. We continue onto Ilfracombe where we have an opportunity to “wet the whistle” at the famous Wellshot Hotel or take a short wander along the Folk Transport Museum on the side of the road. From here it’s onto Longreach, a town which has played a significant role in the early development of central Queensland and outback Australia.
Longreach Motor Inn, Longreach
Thursday 2 May
This morning we will uncover some national treasures, such as the historic 1922 QANTAS hanger, at the QANTAS Founders Museum. The historic photographs, memorabilia and multimedia displays bring alive the inspirational stories of one of the world’s pioneering airlines. We then cross over to the Stockman’s Hall of Fame where we have made a booking for the 11am Outback Stockman’s Show. This new show, which opened in April 2012, tells the story of real life stockmen and women who work on the land. The performer, Luke Thomas, is a known horse breaker, drover, bush poet and raconteur as well as one of the last bullockies. The Outback Stockman’s Show encompasses the modern day aspects of being a stockman, as well as telling the tales of what it used to be like in the past. We can purchase lunch in the café here before spending some time in the Stockman’s Hall of Fame.
Tonight we enjoy a Drovers sunset cruise & dinner on the banks of the Thomson River - a timeless waterhole. We board the Longreach Explorer and grab a seat on the top deck which has 360 degree views of the majestic river. Our captain will captivate us with stories about the river, its wildlife and indigenous links. We have nibbles and a chance to purchase a drink with a stop at Sunset Bend to toast the colours of the outback sky. We dock at Smithy’s Outback Dinner and Show Venue for our camp-oven dinner with entertainment. It will be a fantastic night.
Longreach Motor Inn, Longreach
Friday 3 May.
Longreach and Winton
Today we are going to have a special experience as we get an insight to the area through the eyes of local graziers and pioneer families. We will meet the owners of a local station called Strathmore and learn about their operations and the challenges of operating on the land. Following our visit, we’ll enjoy a light lunch and then hit the road again as we travel to Winton. We travel through vast open plains and Coolibah lined creeks. From the highway we can see the “jump up” – a rugged mesa plateau formation that stands 75 meters above the surrounding plains. We arrive at the Australia Age of the Dinosaurs excited to see the newly opened Dinosaur Canyon! There have been some ground breaking science discoveries in these parts – an area thet was once home to dinosaurs. Here we see the largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils and the largest fossil preparation laboratory in the Southern Hemisphere. If we are lucky we may even get to touch a dinosaur fossil! It is time now to board the shuttle taking us to the dinosaur canyon; Its here we can imagine what it was like when dinosaurs roamed the area with the life size statues. The whole experience will be unforgettable.
Matilda Motel, Winton
Saturday 4 May
Winton to Mt Isa
This central region of Queensland abounds with early Australian folklore and history. It was in this area that Banjo Paterson wrote his famous poem about the swagman and the jolly jumbuck - and “Waltzing Matilda” was first heard in a pub in Winton. After breakfast we take the opportunity to visit the impressive Waltzing Matilda Centre – the only museum in the world dedicated to a song! Then mid-morning we are on our way again – this time to Cloncurry and onto Mt Isa for a two night stay. We pass through Kynuna which was once a Cobb & Co post where the horses and coaches would rattle in to a dusty stop. Our lunch today is at the Walkabout Hotel at McKinlay, also a Cobb and Co staging post but more recently the town has become known as the home of the Walkabout Creek Hotel. This historic pub was once the Shire Hall and has gained notoriety as the pub in the movie "Crocodile Dundee". The hotel was originally named the Federal Hotel and was built in 1900. This afternoon, we continue to Cloncurry at the junction of the Landsborough and Barkly Highways. Cloncurry has a reputation for being one of Australia’s hottest spots (one of the reasons we are travelling during the cooler months!) and the birthplace of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. On arrival we stop to visit John Flynn Place, which is both a modern facility for people of the Inland and an important preservation of the beginnings of the RFDS. From Cloncurry, we drive to Mt. Isa and have time to relax before dinner at the hotel.
Burke & Wills Mt Isa
Sunday 5 May
Monday 6 May
Heading to the Gulf.
We are on the road again this morning. We travel back to Cloncurry and then north to the Burke & Wills Road House where we stop for lunch. Then it’s just over 200ks to the Gulf via Bang Bang and Normanton. We stop briefly in Normanton before heading to Karumba. This town is the easiest point of access to the Gulf. A telegraph station was established here in 1870 and during the 1930s the Royal Mail Service operated Empire Flying boats from here to Asia and Europe. The town is located on the mouth of the Norman River and is now the centre of the prawning industry in the Gulf of Carpentaria. A barramundi fishing industry also operates out of the town. We can watch the sunset this evening as we dine at the aptly named Sunset Tavern.
Karumba Lodge Hotel Motel
Tuesday 7 May
This morning we take the Croc & Crab Tour and experience the excitement of an outback-by-the-sea adventure. Half day tours include live crab pot lifting, live crab handling and crab tying and both croc and bird spotting. We can taste some freshly cooked Gulf Prawns, some mud crabs of course, and a tropical fruit platter on board. We shall also visit a fish breeding farm and Barrumundi Centre. Back on dry land, we have the rest of the afternoon to relax as we have an early start tomorrow.
Karumba Lodge Hotel Motel
Wednesday 8 May
The Gulflander & Undara
We have an early breakfast this morning then retrace our steps to Normanton. We have a look at the Normanton Railway Station which is a classic example of Victorian architecture and it’s here that we board the Gulflander which is a quite famous train that still runs from Normanton to Croydon once a week. Our rail adventure on the old “Tin Hare” Railmotor today takes us only as far as Critters Camp where our coach will meet us. After morning tea from the coach, we head east to Croydon. This old gold mining town was once the biggest in the Gulf and today it still has some interesting buildings. It was reckoned that there were once 50,000 gold mines in the area and reminders of these are scattered all around the countryside. There is a bit of a resurgence of gold mining in the area again today with new technology making it feasible to rework the old diggings. We stop for lunch at the Croydon Club Hotel. This afternoon, we continue our journey east, passing through Georgetown to Mt. Surprise. Near here is the Undara National Park and our next two night’s accommodation is at the Lava Lodge, set in thousands of square kms of pristine tropical Savannah woodlands. We sleep in specially restored antique railway carriages nestled in the bush and our dinner this evening features some of the region’s best produce! (Please note that the railway carriages share a facilities block.)
Undara Lava Lodge, Undara
Thursday 9 May
Undara National Park
Set in the Gulf Savannah country, Undara is as ancient and alluring as the continent itself – the Undara Lava Tubes stand as silent sentinels to our pre-history. Today we can walk in the path of a volcano as we explore these natural geological wonders. Following our tour of the Lava Tubes, we return to the lodge where we have the remainder of the day just to relax. Enjoy the comforts and hospitality of this unique outback setting and look out for the local wildlife - as abundant as they are at home in their surroundings.
Undara Lava Lodge, Undara
Friday 10 May
Undara to Charters Towers
We farewell our hosts this morning and drive south on Gregory Development Road. At Greenvale, we’ll enjoy lunch at the Three Rivers Hotel, made famous by Slim Dusty in a song by the same name. Early afternoon we continue to Charters Towers – a gold mining city that is big on history and character. From a chance discovery of gold in 1871, Charters Towers was soon turned into a bustling metropolis, which in its heyday, boasted being the second largest city in Queensland. On arrival we check into our accommodation.
Cattleman's Rest Motor Inn, Charters Towers
Saturday 11 May
Charters Towers to Emerald
Our journey today takes us south - through the Blackwood National Park where we can stop for our picnic lunches. Our afternoon break is in Clermont. This was the site of an early gold rush and is one of the oldest inland settlements in tropical Queensland. First explored by Ludwig Leichardt in 1845, it wasn't until the lure of gold attracted settlers in 1861 that the town flourished. However, in 1916 Clermont was devastated by flood and the town was relocated to a higher site nearby. This afternoon we shall visit a walk in mine at Gemfields, on our way to our destination, Emerald.
Emerald Central Motel, Emerald
Sunday 12 May
Emerald to Rockhampton
Before departing Emerald, we take a look at the National Trust listed Railway Station. Built in 1900 and restored in 1986, the Station with its wrought iron lacework and pillared portico, truly is a beautiful building. We can also view an ancient fossilised tree aged 250 million years outside the Emerald Town Hall. The tree was unearthed in 1979 when a new railway bridge was being built across the Mackenzie River for the Gregory Mine. It was presented to the town in its centenary year by the mining company. We now make our way through Blackwater to Rockhampton, stopping to purchase your own lunch along the way. Before checking into our final night’s accommodation, we drive to the Mt Archer Lookout for views of the city and surrounding ranges.
Centrepoint Motor Inn, Rockhampton
Monday 13 May
Rockhampton to Home
Our tour has taken us on a giant circle tour of Queensland – from the coast to Central Outback Queensland, to the Gulf and back to the coast. What a vast country Australia is! Today we complete the final leg of our journey home, but not before a stop at Langmorn Station at Raglan. Here we visit the Heritage listed Langmorn Homestead, built in 1873. Following a guided tour, we enjoy a country style morning tea. We now head home to complete a stunning 15 day tour, stopping along the way to BYO lunch.
We have a chance to sleep in today after our travel days, then we’re in for an absolutely fascinating experience. We visit the Isa Experience Gallery. When we first entre the gallery, we may think that this could be yet another museum experience. At Isa Experience, however, the gallery lives, entertains and enthralls. From the fascinating insight into the mining industry development to the cultural diversity of Mount Isa shown in the theatrette movies, to the depictions of the quirkiness of daily life in the early days, the gallery is vibrant and entertaining. We enjoy a light lunch here as well. Later this afternoon, we take in some local sights including the underground hospital and the panorama of Mt Isa from the lookout and time permitting, a drive to Lake Moondarra.
Burke & Wills Mt Isa