Townsville - Mt Isa via Flinders Highway (Hwy
Total Distance 886km
All distances measured from Townsville
Most people taking this route are either on their way to do 'The Big One' or heading for Alice Springs and Adelaide. Whichever you intend there are some very long stretches ahead and things like supermarkets and service stations are quite far apart at times. The weather is often very warm - perhaps hot would be a better word - so be prepared with light clothes and sun block.
You probably saw Townsville from Castle Hill lookout but as you leave for the west on the Flinders Highway you will see the road on the right that would take you up to the TV towers - a lookout with a different perspective of the city.
After climbing up the range you will notice the little township of Mingella (85km) famous for its annual rodeo. The turn off for the historic town of Ravenswood is on the left just before the rodeo venue and this is also the road out to the Burdekin Dam ñ a green oasis in a brown land. The dam provides irrigation for a vast area of Queensland and has made a huge difference to the agricultural output of the region.
After crossing the Burdekin River and noting the height the water can reach in a flood, you soon reach Charters Towers (132km) and its historic buildings that are still in use today. The town owes its heritage to gold rush days and a modern gold mining operation is in full swing at the Mt Aylesham (check) Mine
There are two lookouts in the town giving wide sweeping views over the surrounding countryside and huge eagles and kites can often be seen from these vantage points. It is hoped the dogs in the district can read because signs in the main street proclaim that it is a ëDog Free Zoneí.
Continuing westwards you pass the little town of Pentland (239km) that has been in decline since the closure of its meat works as you journey on to Hughenden (379km) where you can go to the visitorís centre to see a replica skeleton of Muttoburrasaurus ñ a huge dinosaur the used to inhabit the area. If you are interested in dinosaurs then a visit to the Fossil Museum at Richmond (491km) is well worth while.
There is not a great deal to see as you pass through Julia Creek (635km) although the town -has a long history going back to 1862 ñ just twelve months after Burke and Wills epic journey of exploration through the area. The Landsborough Highway (Hwy 66) going south to Winton and the Gulf Development Road (Hwy 83) heading north to Normanton and the Gulf of Carpentaria both link to the Flinders Highway at Cloncurry (769km) .
The Royal Flying Doctor Service had its beginnings here in 1928 and this is commemorated at the John Flynn Memorial Centre ñ an interesting place to visit. The town is also famous because Qantas ran its first regular air service flight from Charleville to Cloncurry in 1922.
From here the highway runs through rugged, craggy country to reach the large mining city of Mt Isa (886km).
Mt Isa is a large city with the mine being the reason for its existence. A very nice lookout gives a panoramic view of the town and the drive up to it is worthwhile just to see the signpost with its distances to many parts of the world. It is a wonderful view at night with the mine lighting a picture. Tours of the mine are possible with booking needed in advance ñ particularly for the underground tour which is a fascinating experience.
There are a number of clubs in the town and all welcome visitors to their facilities. With supermarkets, large shops of all descriptions, the School of the Air, Royal Flying Doctor Service and plenty of caravan parks to choose from, ëThe Isaí has lots to offer visitors who want to stay a few days or more.