Your Ultimate Guide To Overlanders Way

by Meri Gasem

All roads take you somewhere new and exciting, but the ones that take you from the ocean to the Outback are one of a kind. The Overlanders Way connects Townsville to Tennant Creek and stretches over 1550km, going from the tropic to the Outback. You get to dive at the Great Barrier Reef on Monday and hike to the Devil’s Marbles on Friday.

The Overlanders Way is not a particular road but a route that combines Flinders and Barkly Highway. You can do it in as little as four days, but the region is full of history, dinosaur discoveries and dramatic landscapes that deserve more than a few seconds of observation. If you’re ready, here’s everything you need to know, pack and do on the Overlanders Way.

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Important Travel Tips

  • Basic Road Info: The Overlanders Way was an essential route in World War II and a practical cattle transfer route from the Northern Territory to the coastal markets in Queensland. Today it’s a 1550km long strategic touring route. Both highways are fully sealed. During the wet season, rivers might overflow on the road, and some narrow parts of the road require more cautious driving.
  • Best Travel Time: You can drive the Overlanders Way any season but be aware of flooding and storms if you do it in the summer. The wildlife is more active during wet season, and waterholes get full. However, some towns might get cut off because of flooding, and you’ll have to modify your plans. The colder months, June and July, are more suitable if you want dry weather, but anytime between April and October is perfect.
  • Estimated Travel Time: Allow anywhere between four and eight days to drive the route. Those short on time pick a four-day itinerary that doesn’t include many stops. To thoroughly experience the way, follow the eight-day itinerary.
  • What To Bring: The sealed road doesn’t require a 4WD, but there are some off-road tracks you can take if you do decide to go with your 4WD. Pack a variety of clothes and shoes as you’ll be going from the beach to the bush. Check your spare tire and pack a first aid kit. Fuel stations are rarely more than 200km apart, so no need to carry extra fuel.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Townsville to Charters Towers

Overlanders Way starts at the charming coastal town of Townsville, whose main highlight is the Great Barrier Reef. Go diving or snorkel to witness some vivid sea life. For those not fans of snorkelling, there’s the Reef Aquarium. Visit the Turtle Hospital, an outstanding educational experience, especially if you’re travelling with youngsters. A short ferry ride can take you to Magnetic Island to visit the National Park beaming with wildlife. Take the Forts Walk to see Northern Australia’s largest colony of wild koalas.

Take off from Townsville, and you’ll reach Charters Towers in 137km, right in time to settle for the night.

Places To Stay

Paid: Charters Towers Tourist Park or Dalrymple Tourist Van Park.

Free: Macrossan Park Burdekin River or Charters Towers Puma Roadhouse.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Charters Towers to Hughenden

Charter Towers was the cradle of the gold rush in the 1800s and the second largest town in Queensland. The eye-catching architecture and wide streets are witnesses of how vivid this town used to be. It had 29 gold crushing mills, and you can visit some of them today. This former gold mining town is now a serene spot radiating narratives of the past on every corner of the city centre, known as One Square Mile. Take the Ghosts of Gold Heritage Trail tour to learn fascinating details of Charter Towers’ previous life. Visit Leahton Park to see the largest purebred herd of Texas longhorn cattle in Australia.

Get back on the road, and in 248km, you’ll reach Hughenden. If you got on the road with a 4WD, take an exciting detour through White Mountains National Park, Sawpit Gorge and Poison Valley.

Places To Stay

Paid: Hughenden Allen Terry Caravan Park.

Free: Hughenden RV Campground.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Hughenden to Richmond

Hughenden takes you even further back in history to the prehistoric era. This small town once sat on the shoreline of the great inland sea. Over the year, scientists excavated more than 3000 dinosaur and marine fossils in the area. Visit Flinders Discovery Centre to see the life-sized replica of Hughie – the first whole Muttaburrasaurus skeleton found in Australia. You’ll be astonished by the size of these majestic mammals that once inhabited this region.

The colourful Australian Little Grand Canyon – Porcupine Gorge is just an hour out of Hughenden. The nearby creek contributed to carving out these towering sandstone cliffs into the landscape.

After you’re done exploring, get back on the road for an hour, and you’ll reach Richmond.

Places To Stay

Paid: Lakeview Caravan Park or Richmond RV Park.

Free: Marathon Rest Area or Flinders River.

Read Next: 8 Incredible Outback Queensland Experiences To Have On Your Big Lap

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Richmond to Julia Creek

If you’re fascinated by dinosaurs, there are more dinosaur remnants on the Overlanders Way. The area is any aspiring paleontologist’s heaven. In Richmond, you’ll find the Kronosaurus Korner, an award-winning museum with a vast collection of fossil specimens unique to the region. The fossicking sites are fun for all ages!

Tour Lake Fred Tritton, where you can spend the day relaxing, swimming, fishing, or explore the nearby Bush Tucker Gardens. You will discover many local plants marked with their traditional purpose.

Your next stop is only 150km away, at Julia Creek.

Places To Stay

Paid: Julia Creek Caravan Park.

Free: Julia Creek RV Stop.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Julia Creek to Cloncurry

Juia Creek is one of the best stargazing spots on the Overlanders Way. It gets especially crowded each April because of the Dirt’n’Dust Festival. The event involves various activities, including bull and horse riding, triathlon, and even mud diving! You can expect scenic outback sunsets, historical localities and unique picnic spots.

“At The Creek” is the local Visitors and Interpretive Centre where you can discover the tiny endangered marsupial Dunnart and learn about their preservation program. There are several public pools for a much-needed refreshment and even free bicycle rentals to explore the town.

An hour and a half away is Cloncurry, the birthplace of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Places To Stay

Paid: Cloncurry Caravan Park Oasis.

Free: Terry Smoth Lookout Rest Area or Burke & Wills Memorial Corella River.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Cloncurry to Mount Isa

At Cloncurry, you will witness the reminders of one of the most important historical events – the flying medical service back in the 1920s. It was a crucial operation for the survival of the Outback. The John Flynn Place Museum and Art Gallery keep valuable pieces of history as well as the Cloncurry Unearthed Museum. This town was named after the expeditor Robert O’Hara Burke, and his water bottle is still preserved at the museum. If you’re a fan of all things aviation, visit the original Qantas hangar, from where the first passenger flew in 1922. At lunchtime, hit Chinaman Creek Dam for a relaxed picnic by the water.

The route takes you 120km onward through the mountains and Selwyn Ranges to the only town in Outback Queensland – Mount Isa.

Places To Stay

Paid: Sunset Top Tourist Park or Discovery Park Argylla.

Free: East Leichardt Mary Kathleen Dam or WW2 Memorial.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Mount Isa to Camooweal

Mount Isa is the perfect symbiosis of history, nature and prosperous industry. The only town in the Outback is also the world’s largest single producer of copper, silver, lead and zinc. It’s often referred to as the mining capital of Queensland. Another vital industry branch is beef production.

Mount Isa is home to the southern hemisphere’s richest rodeo and a WW2 Underground Hospital. Take the Hard Times Mine Underground Tour to learn more about mining in the region, visit Outback Park, Mount Isa Riversleigh Fossil Centre, Mount Isa Fish Hatchery Project or walk the Ancient Outback Mount Isa loop. There’s so much to do in this region, so you might want to linger a day or two more.

And we’re nearing the last stretch of the Overlanders Way, 190km further is Camooweal.

Places To Stay

Paid: Post Office Hotel Motel & Caravan Park.

Free: Camooweal Billabong or Lake Canelian Georgina River.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Camooweal to Tennant Creek

The final stop in Queensland is Camooweal. Here you can visit the Dovers Camp Museum to find out more about Australia’s pastoral history. Go to Camooweal Caves National Park to see the 500 million-year-old sinkholes and the Nowranie Caves that are sadly not open for visitors. There are great lookouts near the caves where you can take in the panorama.

Many people taking the Overlanders Way might choose to end the journey at Camooweal, but I encourage you to make a stretch and drive 470km, leave Quenslaand and enter the Northern Territory at Tennant Creek.

At Tennant Creek, visit Kundjarra, the unique rock formations also known as Devil’s Marbles. Lake Mary Ann is a good midday stop; it’s beaming with wildlife and provides excellent shaded picnic spots. Finish the day at the Nyinkka Nyunyu Art & Culture Centre and learn more about the local Warumungu people’s culture.

Places To Stay

Paid: Spinifex Ridge Farm Stay or Outback Caravan Park.

Free: 41 Mile Bore Rest Area or Tower.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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