North West Queensland

The region of North West Queensland epitomises the term ‘sunburnt country’ as the terrain is mostly arid or savannah country. While cattle grazing is significant in the area the main money earner is mining, with 70% of the population living in Mount Isa, close to the Mount Isa Mines.

Tourists can go on working mine tours deep underground or try their hand at fossicking if the caves are a little daunting. The area is known for discoveries of dinosaur fossils and there are a number of attractions that play up to this.

To experience the true North West Outback though, take a hike through the gorges and along hidden lakes before camping by a river after watching a deeply colourful Queensland sunset.

Natural Attractions

Initially established as a sheep grazing property, since 1993 Shirley Station has been Moorrinya National Park. The park protects the Desert Uplands and the Lake Eyre Basin, one of Australia’s most important catchments. The park is a wildlife refuge with several native species roaming the dry, flat plains, watercourses and eucalypt, paperbark and acacia woodlands. Much of the sheep station structures still remain as a tribute to the hard work of the outback farmers. The park is only a short drive from Torrens Creek.

Porcupine Gorge National Park’s sheer sandstone cliffs and lush vine-forests along Porcupine Creek contrast with the surrounding flat plains. There are several walking tracks for wildlife viewing while the canyon reveals layers of sedimentary rocks spanning millions of years.

White Mountains National Park is home to the unusual hare-wallaby and eastern pebble-mound mouse. Go for a bushwalk to view the white sandstone bluffs and gorges that characterise this rugged wilderness. Winter and springtime see the colourful flowering of wildflowers like wattles, ironbarks, acacias and grevilleas.

Camooweal Sinkholes National ParkCamooweal Caves National Park is full of rare sink holes and caves dating back millions of years. While the caves are not accessible to visitors they can visit the sinkholes, just make sure you don’t fall in!

The rest of the park is open to regular bushwalking and camping and is teeming with wildlife suited to the dry climate.

The Australian Fossil Mammal Sites at Riversleigh, just outside of Mount Isa, are heritage listed for their amazing representation of the evolution of Australian mammals and quality of their fossils. These limestone fossil deposits are among the most extensive in the world.

About 45km northeast of Julia Creek on the Flinders River is the Punchbowl Waterhole, a perfect spot for swimming, fishing and picnicking.

Things To See & Do

Charter Towers, a town built on the gold rush of the 1800s, offers visitors the culturally rich, self-guided Ghosts of Gold Heritage Trail. The tour begins with an orientation film at the Visitor Information Centre then follows a series of building, sites and relics of the towns mining past before finishing with an evening screening of the film ‘Ghosts After Dark’.

The Queensland Ambulance Museum is located in Charter Towers as it was the first town outside of Brisbane to have an ambulance station. The museum today houses memorabilia such as old radios, badges & uniforms, ledgers, casebooks and photos & information about the start of the ambulance service in Outback Queensland.

Lake Moondarra, Mount IsaMount Isa is a major Outback Queensland town that is referred to as the Oasis of the Outback for its picturesque landscapes.

The bustling town is home to the School of the Air, the Royal Flying Doctors base, National Trust Tent House, Underground Hospital and Beth Anderson Museum.

Cloncurry is home to the Mary Kathleen Memorial Park and Museum, which hosts the history and memorabilia of Cloncurry and the surrounding districts. There is a mineral and gem collection that is considered one of the most extensive in Australia, as well as Aboriginal artefacts and a Bourke and Wills display.

As the birthplace of the Royal Flying Doctors Service, Cloncurry’s John Flynn Place Museum pays homage to the history and importance to Outback life of this service.