We actually pulled out of Undara (see previous post) a day early as we felt it was time to move on. So we literally poked a finger at the map and found this gem of a location called Lakeside Motor Inn & Caravan Park situated on the shores of Lake Tinaroo (maplink) just outside of Yungaburra, in the Atherton Tablelands region. It was difficult to believe that in the 205kms from dusty outback Undara we were now in lush and green Yungaburra.
The caravan is situated right on Lake Tinaroo so the views were really great over the water.
We only had a one night stay here but had a quick look around. Directly over the road from our caravan park was this wonderful memorial called The Afghanistan Avenue of Honour which was a beautiful tribute to our troops who served in Afghanistan.
- Caravan Park – Fantastic location with well spaced out sites and great managers. They even set-up a fire pit for happy hour
- Cost per night – $30
- Facilities – great – very clean & modern
- CP Location – a bit out of town (about 3kms) but right on Lake Tinaroo which is lovely.
- Our rating/score – 9/10
- Was it a nice town to visit?- yes
- Activities & places of interest – plenty – we only had an overnighter but this place has potential for a longer stay
- Would we return? – definitely
- Overall Score –10/10
- Summing up – we’ll be back!
We had promised people back home that the Undara Lava Tubes would be part of our trip agenda and all I can say is “thanks so much for the tip”!
What a truly majestic place to visit (maplink). We stayed for a couple of nights in the campground, which is really nice. We travelled from Georgetown to the village (asphalt all the way).
The village and campground is known as the Undara Experience and it truly is an experience. The village has great food and the roof over a restaurant area is designed to look like a lava tube – very creative.
The Lava Tube Tour
Access to the lava tubes is by guided tour only as it is in a National Park. You travel from the Undara Village via bus and then are taken through 3 different lava tubes by very informative guides.
The Undara Lava Tubes were created about 190,000 years ago when a staggering 23 cubic kilometres of lava flowed into a river bed and kept flowing for 160km, making it the world’s longest lava flow from a single volcano.
Huge caves, some over 21m wide and up to 10m high, have formed in places along the tubes. They are never dark because they are gaping holes which can be entered by visitors accompanied by tour guides. The experience is genuinely unforgettable.
Summing up the caravan park…
- Caravan Park – well spaced out we great sites. A bit dusty, but that has to be expected. They do water the roads twice a day, which is great.
- Cost per night – $39
- Facilities – single en-suite style – very modern, neat and tidy
- CP Location – it’s a done deal as it’s closest you will ever get to the tours. Otherwise it’s a 104km round-trip drive from Mt Surprise
- Our rating/score – 9/10
Summing up the tour…
- What did we think? – Great place to visit – certainly a bucket list item if you are travelling in this area.
- Was it value for money? – absolutely – $80 per person – a discount was included as we were staying there
- Would we return? – no – a once off visit
- Overall Score – 11/10 😁
- How do you book a tour? – try the Undara Experience website
I just happened upon a brochure for this wonderland called Cobbold Gorge when checking into a caravan park one day. How lucky were we to discover this place as it’s totally amazing. I did some more research (as I tend to do a lot) and discovered there is a campground there but the road in is about 85kms from Georgetown (route map) of which the majority is pretty rough dirt. We then decided to camp in Georgetown and leave the van behind and take a day trip. Once on that dirt road we agreed that our Bailey caravan was not “off-road” enough to have taken the journey – good choice!
The gorge is located on the 1284-square-kilometre Robin Hood Cattle station, so named because it adjoined the Sherwood mining lease, has been in the Terry family since 1964. The gorge was discovered by Simon Terry and in 1995 Simon and his new wife Gaye, who together had recently taken on Howlong Station, an area of Robin Hood that includes what is now known as Cobbold Gorge, decided to open a small bush camp so people could visit. It is now a multi award winning tourist destination and we were so glad to visit it.
Cobbold Gorge Boat Trip
The first leg of the Gorge Tour is done in a long skinny aluminum boats, seating 14 people and powered at each end by an electric motor – that’s because the boats cannot turn around in the skinny gorge for the return trip.
It is so quiet as we seemed to float through the gorge for about an hour; spotting 3 freshwater crocs and these magical St George spiders who build their webs in such a way the archer fish cannot shoot them down with their spouts of water.
The gorge narrows so much in parts that the people in the boat can virtually spread their arms and touch both sides at once. This is truly a magnificent place.
Cobbold Gorge Walk
Another part of the tour is to walk over the gorge on the recently constructed glass bridge.
We thought that was going to be all but we were totally surprised by the talk provided by our guide, Kev who told us about the environment we were in. There were Gillie Gillie berries which, if eaten, would kill a person in no time at all, with no remedy. Then the various bushes you could use to clean your hands or poison the water to catch fish – all indigenous types of things the bush has to offer.
To complete this part of the tour we donned our protective foot covers and strolled out onto the 11 metre wide glass bridge. Opened in October 2019 it is Australia’s first glass bridge (read the news article). Wow – totally awesome! Especially when the next tour’s boat sailed through right underneath our feet.
- What did we think? – If you are ever anywhere near Cobbold Gorge, do yourself a favour and take the trip out. Stay in Georgetown if you don’t have an off-road caravan or even book one of the cabins in the Gorge Village for the night.
- Was it value for money? – absolutely – $108 per head
- Would we return? – no – a once off visit but you should go
- Overall Score – 12/10 😁
- How do you book a tour? – via their website
Leaving Karumba we refueled in Normanton (maplink) at the local BP. It was a bit of a classic experience with 3 old blokes sitting around in dilapidated armchairs next to the fuel pumps, giving advice about travel & life in general – very funny. We checked out some of the historical buildings’ like the Purple Pub (Facebook) and the Burns Philp building (a bit of family history – my mum worked for Burns Philp in Madang PNG in the early 1960’s)
Then it was off to Georgetown for a couple of nights stay. We decided to stay here as a base for the trip into Cobbold Gorge due to the reported poor road conditions on that leg of our trip. We pulled into the Goldfields Caravan Park (Facebook) and were happy to find out that they have a happy hour every night – nice.
- Caravan Park – was only one in town. The managers were fantastic.
- Cost per night – $25 (cash only)
- Facilities – very modern and very clean
- CP Location – in town – walking distance to all things
- Our rating/score – 8/10
- Was it a nice town to visit?- not bad
- Activities & places of interest – only stayed so we could spend the day at Cobbold Gorge so didn’t really have much of a sticky-nose around town
- Would we return? – probably not
- Overall Score –8/10
- Summing up – a great place to park up for a couple of nights if you don’t want to drag your caravan down the tortuous (caravan wrecking) road to Cobbold Gorge – off-road vans excepted.
Today we departed Mt Isa for our road trip up to Karumba in the Gulf of Carpenteria. We decided to break the 565km trip in half and take an overnight stop at the Burke & Wills Roadhouse located at the “Four Ways” intersection (route map).
Copped a chip & crack in the windscreen today, from a passing vehicle, which will require a replacement at some point.
It was a bit dusty, but “it’s the outback!” Quickly made friends with the neighbours, Steve & Norelle, shared some stories and had a couple of beers – as is the custom.
Dinner was the famous roadhouse burgers, which did not disappoint at all.
- Caravan Park – only one in town
- Cost per night – $30.00 for power – $10 for non-power
- Facilities – As expected for an outback stay
- CP Location – midway between Cloncurry & Karumba
- Our rating/score – 7/10
- Summary – as it’s the only CP in the area it was a welcoming respite in our drive north. The burgers at the roadhouse were fantastic
We joined our neighbours, Rene & Sylvia and Ron & Di, from the Argylla Caravan Park and travelled out to experience the sunset at Lake Moondarra, about 17kms out of town (maplink).
This is a beautiful location with a large number of wild peacocks strolling around the lawns of the barby area. We took a look around the dam wall and it’s surrounds. The peacocks were very tame, even trying to pinch our chips.
We settled in for a few quiet drinks as the sun set over the lake. It was one of those monumental sunsets, enjoyed with new found friends. We stayed for an hour after the sun had set as the twilight was stunning.
- What did we think? – loved it. A beautiful location.
- Was it value for money? – no cost – just fuel
- Would we return? – yes
- Overall Score – 9/10
- How do you book a tour? – try North West Tours but we just drove out there ourselves
One of the “must do’s” while in Mount Isa is to take the Riversleigh Fossil Discovery Tour located in the Tourist Information Center (AKA Outback Isa).
The centre was only 5 weeks old and really well set-up for us to gain an understanding about fossils found in the Riversleigh World Heritage area, some 277 kms from where we were (maplink).
Our guide, Allan, was an absolute wealth of knowledge; having fossicked and worked on fossil reclamation for over 50 years. Allan’s total passion for the topic made this an absolutely fantastic experience.
We looked through periscopes to view the tiniest fossil remnants which had been reclaimed from their rocky prison using chemicals and a lot of patience.
- What did we think? – this tour was fantastic!
- Was it value for money? – absolutely – $30 per head (seniors)
- Would we return? – Probably
- Overall Score – 10/10
- How do you book a tour? – try the Riversleigh Discovery Centre website
While in Mount Isa we paid the local tourist information centre a visit to check out what sites or tours may be of interest. While chatting to the lady I asked about this stunning outback painting on the wall of big red boulders (a bit like the Devil’s Marbles in NT). She told us about the Sybella Granite Mine, where the boulders are located and gave us directions (route map)…
Take the Boulia – Mt Isa Hwy out past the mine; when you get to the power-station sign travel another 11km until you see the 100km/hr sign. The entrance gate to the boulders should be on your right. Go through the gates and start exploring (don’t forget to close the gates!)
Off we went exploring away and the whole area is pretty spectacular.
- What did we think? – an amazing (unknown) place
- Was it value for money? – no cost – just fuel
- Would we return? – probably not – a once off
- Overall Score – 9/10
We pulled into the Argylla Caravan Park, which is just outside of town (maplink) for a couple of nights. A pretty basic looking park with not many people staying but it was comfortable.
Took a look around Mt Isa and ended up at the town lookout with views over this mega mining town. The water tank on top of the hill has some fantastic artwork, painted by David Houghton in 2019. The views are pretty standard with the mine taking up a large amount of the vista to the west. The lookout has heaps of whistling kites flying around on the thermals which is pretty spectacular as they dive down onto unsuspecting things like chips left by messy tourists and the pigeons trying to eat those chips.
- Caravan Park – Probably the worst park we’d stayed in so far
- Cost per night – $38.70
- Facilities – Not the best
- CP Location – Out of town by about 3 kms. Would definitely look for an alternative next time
- Our rating/score – 5/10
- Was it a nice town to visit? – Not too bad
- Activities & places of interest – We were surprised that the was not all that much to do here except mine related tours etc
- Would we return? – Probably not
- Overall Score – 6/10
- Summary – We went to Mt Isa as we thought we would probably not get the chance again. It was pretty disappointing. We did enjoy the boulders and Lake Moondarra plus making some new friends.
A major attraction in the town of Richmond is the Kronosaurus Corner at the visitors centre. This is a fantastic exhibition of marine fossils and a “must do” if you’re ever in this neck of the woods. There is so much to learn here and the centre provides you with hand-held audio guides which explain each of the exhibits to you.
Penny the Plesiosaur exhibit is totally incredible as it is one of the near complete fossils ever found intact by Mr Ian Ievers in 1989 on Marathon Station near Richmond, while feeding cattle near the homestead.
We were so inspired by the fossil displays at Kronosaurus Corner that we purchased a “fossil fossicking” permit and headed out to one of the fossil locations to try our luck at finding something special but came away with nothing but the dust on our clothes (LOL).
- What did we think? – if you are in town the definitely visit the centre – it’s awesome
- Was it value for money? – yes – $20 per head (seniors)
- Would we return? – probably not – it’s a once off
- Overall Score – 10/10
- How do you book a tour? – try the Kronosaurus website
Our trip from Charters Towers, heading west, to Richmond (maplink) was one of the bumpiest ones yet. We couldn’t believe how much we bounced along the road – had to slow down to 80km/hr at some points.
We pulled into the Lakeview Caravan Park for 3 nights, which was really nice but everyone is packed in “real tight”.
A walk around Fred Tritton Lake (next to the caravan park) followed by drinks up at the barby shelter afterward was a great way to end the 1st day.
A look around this lovely and very tidy town showed up some gems, one of which was the Cambridge Store, a restored store from the 1800’s. Another was the stockman statue out front of the Council offices.
Sunrise over Fred Tritton Lake was stunning. Check out these shots…
- Caravan Park – Great location but the sites are pretty close together
- Cost per night – $26.00
- Facilities – Bit old & dated but clean
- CP Location – Great location with views over the lake
- Our rating/score – 76/10
- Was it a nice town to visit? – yes – a very neat & tidy town
- Activities & places of interest – Kronosaurus Corner is the highlight
- Would we return? – Only if passing through the area
- Overall Score – 7/10
- Summary – Enjoyed our stay. Happy hour drinks under the rotunda was great
We took a day trip to Ravenswood to check it out. This town is full of history and was really worth the 175km round trip from Charters Towers.
Gold was originally discovered here in 1868 and the population grew to over 50,000; now it is just 255. Gold is still being mined here and while we were there we checked out the new primary school, where Merrisa’s sister works, built by the mining company as they are about to begin open cut mining at the old school’s location. No expense seems to be spared here as the new school is absolutely beautiful.
Lunch in the Imperial Hotel (best burger ever!) chatting with some of the locals and then a look around the town and surrounding district. There are lots of chimneys from old smelters
Just out of town is the White Blow which is a massive milky quartz outcrop. Quite amazing sitting out in the middle of nowhere (no gold there though).
On the way back to Charters Towers we stopped at the Macrossan Bridge, over the Burdekin River, to check out the flood marker pole. It is extremely hard to understand how much water has flowed through here in floods over the years. The 1946 flood was the highest at 21.79 metres.
We also came across a bit of Aussie humour where someone has built this massive steel boat but there’s no water. Check out the funny photo below.
- What did we think? – lovely town with heaps of history & we totally recommend a visit
- Was it value for money? – yes – just fuel & food
- Would we return? – maybe (a once of visit is probably enough)
- Overall Score – 9/19
- How do you book a tour? – try Raven Tours
Plenty of people we met along the way, plus a lovely lady named Deanne strongly recommended we take the Texas Longhorn Tour at ‘Leahton Park’ 10km out from Charters Towers (maplink).
This is a really great experience. Our host, Linda, took us through how they perform AI (artificial insemination) on their heifer’s, as there are no bulls on the property – any bull calves are neutered or sold off after birth.
Then we all jumped into some Polaris 4×4’s and Linda escorted us around the property to show off their magnificent longhorn cattle. JR has the longest horns measuring over 3.1 metres (11 feet) wide. He had the world record for a while but has now been out done by a longhorn in Colorado USA.
- What did we think? – loved the tour & totally recommend it.
- Was it value for money? – yes – $69.50 per head (seniors)
- Would we return? – probably no as it’s one of those once off things you do
- Overall Score – 10/10
- How do you book a tour? – book through the Texas Longhorns website
The trip to Charters Towers from Airlie Beach had a little bit of drama thrown in courtesy of our (3 year old) Toyota Landcruiser’s GPS. There are basically 2 ways to get to Charters Towers but our brilliant Landcruiser discovered a 3rd one which, after 47kms, ended on the worst corrugated dirt road you could ever imagine. Check out the route map – it’s the bit in the middle, which added 94kms to our trip and broke Merrisa’s favourite scotch glass! Looks like we’re off to an opp shop to find a replacement.
The primary reason for going to Charters Towers was to catch-up with Merrisa’s sister, Catherine and her family. Catherine’s husband, Steve, is a geologist in the gold mines nearby. It was great catching up and thanks to Catherine & Steve for inviting us into their home and showing us around the town.
Our Caravan Park
We booked into the Big4 Aussie Oasis Holiday Park which was a great choice (maplink). There are 3 pet barramundi in the pond out the front of the office; one is a metre long. Friday night (our arrival) is pizza night (woohoo) but it was unfortunately cancelled due to Covid19 regulations. Damn! Looks like we will have to return.
A bit of history & a look around Town
Charters Towers has a lot of history. The town was founded in the 1870s when gold was discovered by chance at Towers Hill on Christmas Eve 1871 by 12-year-old Aboriginal boy, Jupiter Mosman. Jupiter was with a small group of prospectors including Hugh Mosman, James Fraser and George Clarke. Their horses bolted after a flash of lightning. It is still an active “gold town” but not as prosperous as it was back then – read more here
Towers Hill Lookout
A trip up to the Towers Hill Lookout is a must as it provides a fantastic vista of the town and it’s surrounds. It also shows how flat it is out here (maplink). The area has lots of WWII bunkers, some of which have video displays depicting what it was like in the war.
Charters Towers Sunset
I’d heard that you can witness a great sunset from the Towers Hill Lookout so I ventured up there just before 6:00pm and got these fantastic photos.
Charters Towers Weir
The Burdekin Weir Park is about 17kms out of Charters Towers (maplink). We ventured out to have a look and should have taken our lunch with us as it was a lovely place for a picnic. The weir is the primary source of water for Charters Towers. Would love to be here when the river is in flood, it’d be pretty spectacular.
- Caravan Park – best one in town – well we thought so
- Cost per night – $40.00
- Facilities – A bit basic but clean and tidy
- CP Location – on the highway (away from noise). You need to drive into town for supplies
- Our rating/score – 7/10
- Was it a nice town to visit? – Yes. Lots of history
- Activities & places of interest – Lots to do in Charters Towers. It was also handy having family here to show us around
- Would we return? – Yes
- Overall Score – 8/10
- Summary – A great visit and will certainly come back. Make sure you visit the Longhorn Ranch if in the area as it’s a great tour.