The Ultimate Guide to Spending a Long Weekend in Mount Isa and Cloncurry

If you’ve watched the final season of Survivor Australia, you’ll know that instead of taking the contestants to a remote island this year, the TV show was filmed here in the Australian outback in the North. West Queensland to be exact. And if you’ve seen some of the spectacular scenery and sunsets in the show’s outback, and thought you might just have to put the Queensland outback on your to-do list, we’re right up to you. made okay.

There is no need to start looking for reverse images on the series screenshots. The new season was filmed entirely in Cloncurry and Mount Isa in northern Queensland, near the border with the Northern Territory. While a long trip by four-wheel drive car (trailer trailer) is undoubtedly the best way to see this area, there is plenty to see and do on a long weekend, and even in a car. two-wheel drive rental.

So wrap a bandana around your head (for the full Survivor look – though, let’s face it, a hat would be a lot more practical) and get ready to explore the big outback – here’s everything you shouldn’t miss while on the go. your trip.

Mount Isa

With the largest airport in the region, the mining town of Mount Isa will most likely be your first port of call if you’re flying. larger than Tasmania), in fact. The gigantic mining chimneys are one of the first things you will see as you approach the city, but make no mistake: the air quality is tightly controlled here. If you can plan your trip well, the Mount Isa Rodeo is the biggest event of the year here, and worth planning ahead – the whole area turns out to watch bull riders and trainers. horses compete in the dust, and it truly is an electric experience. You can even glamp for the duration of the event, so circle August in your calendar if you can.

The Essentials: Mount Isa Hotels And Restaurants

If you are not one of the hordes of gray nomads who bring their home on wheels with them, there are plenty of hotels to choose from in Mount Isa. Our top picks in the center of town are the Redearth Boutique Hotel and the Burke & Wills Motel, but if you’d rather be a bit away from the action, Sunset Top Tourist Park has cozy cabanas (and their weekly soup nights are famous in these areas). If you need any restaurant suggestions in Mount Isa, be sure to head to the Rodeo Bar & Grill for a steak, but be sure to reserve a table in advance – they’re very popular. For breakfast, head to The Xtra Mile Cafe, while Giuseppe’s Cantina caters to anyone in need of city-worthy tapas and a margarita (you’re on vacation, after all).

Things to do

Old Mary Kathleen Uranium Mine Tour

One of the area’s most impressive sites, the Old Mary Kathleen Uranium Mine is a surface mine that closed decades ago and has since filled with rainwater to become a rather Instagrammable blue lake. We wouldn’t recommend swimming here of course (uranium IS radioactive, folks) but it’s worth the trip. Access is only by 4×4, so if you are on two-wheelers take a tour with North West Tours instead. This four-hour tour will also include the ghost town of Mary Kathleen, which was packed and abandoned when the mine closed. If you have a 4×4, be sure to also hike the Ballara Mining Heritage Trail just across the highway.

Outback to Isa

While you can’t descend into the working mines of Mount Isa (would you even want to risk getting lost in 1,600 miles of tunnels?), You can get the full mining experience in Outback at Isa’s. Mine in hard times. Although dug specifically for visitors, these tunnels will still make you feel claustrophobic as you descend in the elevator with your helmet and overalls on. Tours are run by former miners and give you the chance to see (and try out) how they did things before robotic machines took over. Do not stray away …

a row of camels at a fence

Feeding the camels

Just on the outskirts of Mt Isa you will find a herd of camels in an open enclosure. They’re not wild, they’re actually the “pets” of a certain Mr. Paul Keegan, who saves camels from slaughter at local breeding stations – and they love carrots. Take a big bag and walk to the fence and soon you will have a herd of camels running your way. Don’t waste time feeding them or they will get cranky. Can’t find them? Just ask a local for directions.

Mount Isa Underground Hospital and Museum

Back in the days of WWII, when air raid drills were the norm and Darwin’s bombardment had just rocked the nation, there were concerns that Mount Isa was next. Hoping to protect their patients, Mount Isa Hospital has dug an underground tunnel, equipped with everything they would need if the worst happened. Nowadays it’s fascinating museum and time travel, having been fully restored as it was when it was built after being collapsed and lost for decades.

Moondarah Lake

During the summer months, Lake Moondarah is where you’ll find the residents of Mount Isa spending their weekends, swimming, fishing, kayaking, and picnicking. For visitors, this is a picturesque place to spend an afternoon, and there is a fairly spectacular lookout point from where you can also walk over the dam wall.

a water tower painted with a fresco


Cloncurry is most definitely a country town, with an epic country bakery where you must stop for a donut stuffed with cream and jam. Affectionately known as “The Curry”, this is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone, so don’t worry if you get stares when you go to the pub for lunch.

The Essentials: Hotels And Restaurants Cloncurry

Book a room at Gidgee Inn – this sprawling motel was built of adobe, keeping it warm in the winter and cool in the summer, no air conditioning needed. There are two good Cloncurry pubs to choose from for a restaurant: the Wagon Wheel Motel, which happens to be the oldest licensed establishment in North West Queensland, and the Central Hotel Cloncurry, which has its own café in the open. air in the back. For breakfast, stop by the Red Door Cafe and grab a grab-and-go breakfast – this community center was created to train young people for various careers.

the view of the Chinaman stream dam

Things to do

Chinaman Creek Dam

This beautiful dam-formed lake was a major filming site for the new season of Survivor, you won’t see any signs of it now. Even though you won’t catch the Tribal Council here, it’s still a nice place for a pit stop, whether you want to picnic by the water, fish, or just head to the gazebo.

Visit McKinlay

A small town about an hour southeast of Cloncurry (and we mean tiny – about 12 people live in the township itself), McKinlay’s claim to fame is the Walkabout Creek Hotel. Yes, the same one that appeared in the movie Crocodile Dundee. At the back, you’ll even find the original bar set, plus plenty of accessories inside. Make sure you grab a pint while you’re there – the owners love all visitors. Oh and take a detour to see Queensland’s smallest library just around the corner as well.

two people in a bath

Julia Creek Caravan Park artesian baths

You might want to spend an entire night at Julia Creek for their famous artesian baths at Julia Creek Caravan Park, but you can also just book for the day – it’s about an hour and a half drive from Cloncurry. It is worth the trip for a long soak in the warm waters of the Grand Artesian Basin in the comfort of your own private bath, with views of the plains from your bathtub. You can even order a cheese platter and BYO drinks to sip on while you bathe. Seriously, words can’t describe how amazing this experience is – put it on your bucket list. If you have time, stay for lunch or dinner at Julia Creek Top Pub – the food is exceptional.

John Flynn Square Museum

Can you imagine living and working at a breeding station, 10 days away from the nearest doctor or hospital? Neither did we, but it was life in the backcountry before the Royal Flying Doctor Service was established. This The Cloncurry Museum takes you through the creation of the service, made possible by the invention of powered flight and two-way radio, and is full of fascinating stories about life in the outback, far from medical aid.

If you plan to stay that way, venture east to check out Cobbold Gorge.

Image credit: Queensland Tourism and Events

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