Travelling The Matilda Way - Charleville to Mount Isa
Welcome to the Matilda Way, a fully sealed 1,812 kilometre stretch of highway, starting from the New South Wales border at Cunnamulla, that runs all the way up to the Gulf of Carpentaria. This is one road which most definitely leads to adventure and the creation of lifelong memories, with a different one each day! The highway to unforgettable historical and scenic landscapes can be completed in as little as 24 hours, but that’s one heck of a drive. Don’t miss out on experiencing the spirit of the ‘Real Outback’ – its people, the attractions and natural sites, with Bus Queensland Outback taking you along the Charleville to Cloncurry section of the Matilda Highway.
From Charleville to Blackall, experience the Charleville Cosmos Centre & Observatory before listening to the sheep shearing tales of Blackall’s legend Jack Howe and visiting the Blackall Woolscour, Australia’s last remaining steam-operated wool-washing plant. Travelling from Blackall to Barcaldine and then on to Longreach will see you visiting the Australian Worker’s Heritage Centre, Qantas Founders Museum and the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame.
A stopover in Winton will answer the question on how Matilda Way got its name. Home to Banjo Patterson’s ‘Waltzing Matilda’, the Combo Waterhole, the Royal Open Air Threatre, Australian Age of Dinosaurs & birthplace of Qantas, there are so many attractions to see and things to do in Winton, the ‘Dinosaur Capital’ of Australia!
Cloncurry will have your heart racing at its infamous Cloncurry Stockman’s Challenge & Campdraft, as well as being the birthplace of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. From here, finish off your unforgettable trip through the ochre-red rugged Selwyn Ranges, to Mount Isa, the ‘oasis of the Outback’, with its spectacular Lawn Hill Gorge and Riversleigh Fossil Fields.
Stops & Highlights Between Charleville & Mount Isa
Charleville - Blackall
Heading north of Charleville is Augathella. The pub in this town is the central social hub and a good place to hear about the exploits of the family of Kenniffs, the infamous bushrangers. On a more cultural note, local artists and artisans show off their latest creations at Boadicea Arts and Crafts. North of Augathella is Tambo, home to the famous 'Tambo Teddies', established during the years of low wool prices but still going strong and producing teddies adored by children everywhere. If time is limited, settle for a stroll along the banks of the Barcoo and do the beautiful Coolibah Walk.
Charleville - Blackall Continued...
It's here that you will again greet the Barcoo River, which flows close to town. Keep count of how many times you cross the Barcoo on this trip, as local legend has it that after the tenth crossing, you're there to stay. The Historic Blackall Woolscour was brought back to life by locals to become a major tourist attraction and is Australia's last remaining steam-operated wool-washing plant. Whilst it's open throughout the year, 'steam-up' is usually restricted to the months between May and September. Blackall was supposed to have the first artesian bore in the central west, only to be beaten to the punch by Barcaldine, just 109 kilometres further along the Matilda Highway. With so many things to do in Blackall, you will surely be kept busy seeing the numerous attractions in and around the town!
Blackall - Barcaldine
If you're travelling between Barcaldine and Ilfracombe during late August to early September, and the year's rainfall has been sufficient, the floral landscapes are truly spectacular. In Ilfracombe, don't miss seeing the virtual open-air museum, the 'Great Machinery Mile', featuring old tractors, disused farm equipment and historic examples of rural machinery that have been laid out to rest. Wander around town and visit the Wellshot Hotel, take a dip in the artesian spa, see the corrugated iron Langenbaker Cottage and the Post Office, which claims to have been Australia's first motorised mail service.
Barcaldine - Longreach
The School of Distance Education offers tours of its facility, which provides an education to students in a 1000 kilometre or more radius via satellite internet. The Longreach Pastoral College, Longreach Power House Museum, and the Longreach Arts and Cultural Centre, in the old Ambulance Station, where locals display their arts and crafts, are also well worth a visit. Various companies offer sunset cruises on the Thomson River, some in historic paddle steamers, with campfire meals and bush poetry thrown in. Hop aboard a Cobb & Co. coach for a tour of the town or head out to a real working sheep and cattle property to get a glimpse into life on the land.
Longreach - Winton
During the holiday season, the town's local open-air picture theatre, The Royal Theatre, screens the latest releases and hosts the Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival that attracts film buffs from all over the country. This is also the town where the Qantas airline was born, with the first general meeting of the airline being held at the Winton Club before operations moved to Longreach. The landscape between Winton and Cloncurry is undulating, but some 80 kilometres north of Winton, you will pass through Ayrshire Hills, an ancient weathered formation that look very much like the mesas from a spaghetti western. These isolated mesas back on to Kynuna, to the west of the town.
Winton - Cloncurry
On the theme of aviation, visit the original Qantas hangar where the first passenger flew from Longreach to Cloncurry in 1922. Cloncurry was named by explorer Robert O'Hara Burke and you can see his drink bottle at the Burke and Wills display in the Cloncurry Unearthed Museum. Boasting its very own 'ghost town', you can learn about the former Mary Kathleen Uranium Mine settlement at the Mary Kathleen Memorial Park. Cloncurry's Stockman's Challenge & Campdraft, as well as other attractions including the Cloncurry Cemetery, with graves dating back to the 1880s, the Court House built in 1898, and Chinaman Creek Dam, where you can swim, picnic and take in an outback sunset.
Cloncurry - Mount Isa
Descend 22 metres underground to feel the earth move with the firing of the drill face and use real mining equipment. Outback at Isa also houses an outback park and the Riversleigh Fossil Centre. Join the resident palaeontologist on a lab tour to see exciting local fossil finds. Lake Moondarra, a few kilometres out of town, offers excellent barbecue facilities, swimming, fishing and a lookout. Before leaving Isa, call in to the School of the Air for a glimpse into classes conducted via satellite internet with students from remote communities and cattle stations. See the WWII Underground Hospital, visit the National Trust Tent House, take a surface mine tour and see inside the Bureau of Meteorology.
Enjoy 10 days of unlimited travel in Outback Queensland!
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