Burketown is a tiny coastal outback town that proudly proclaims itself to be 'Australia's Barramundi Capital'. The town is very laid back with a very diverse cultural mix. You're sure to meet some real characters...
'Welcome to Karumba - population small'. Such is the sign that welcomes visitors to this remote town, which has only quite recently been discovered by outback travellers. Anyone whose seen a lot of Australia will tell you that there is no other place with quite the same atmosphere as Karumba in winter. Karumba is quite literally the end of the road; a small town of about 700 people, where the wide Normanton River meets the Gulf of Carpenteria. It's a friendly place, relaxed but still a little bit wild.
Normanton is an unusual, fascinating and delightful town, positively oozing with old world charm. Located close to the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Normanton is the major commercial centre of Carpentaria Shire, and is the northern terminal for Australia's most remote railway, the Gulflander. After the dicovery of gold near Croydon, the Gulflander was diverted from Normanton to the boom town. Today a three-car motor rail links Normanton and Croydon once a week. In the meantime, the Gulflander sits inside Normanton's station.
When gold was discovered in Croydon in 1885, the town went through an overnight boom and became one of the biggest towns in Queensland. What once was a bustling centre is today a quiet town with a very interesting past worth exploring.
Recognised as the centre of some of the best gemfields in Queensland, Georgetown owes its existence to gold which was found on the Etheridge goldfields in 1870. Nowadays, Georgetown is a sleepy little town but still is well serviced and a major point for visitors taking in the spectacular scenery and history of Australia's northern outback.
Undara Volcanic National parks is one of the highlights of Tropical North Queensland, and is less than 100 kilometres from Mount Garnet. The road is sealed all the way, except for the last four kilometres. You can also ride the historic Savannahlander from Cairns to Mount Surprise, just 50 kilometres from Undara.
Known by locals as 'The World', Charters Towers was once said to have anything anybody would ever want so there was no need to leave the town. Charters Towers today is a scenic gold mining city with proud heritage and history, a perfect example of the real Australia, surorunded by sprawling cattle stations and intensely coloured sunsets.
Hughenden is a little town that takes pride in being the homeland of 'Hughie', the first entire dinosaur to be found in Australia. There are many attractions in the area, with gemfields, mountainous volcanic basalt country, sweeping black soil plains rich in fossils. Oh, the town is surrounded by four National Parks.
The town of Richmond has been recognised as one of the most attractive outback towns in Queensland, awarded with the title of Australia's Tidiest Town 2001 in the 'Keep Australia Beautiful' awards. Home to the world renowned Kronosaurus Korner Fossil Museum, Richmond and the whole area are rich in fossils as it was once part of Australia's vast 'inland sea'.
Home to the Julia Creek dunnart, Julia Creek is packed with social and sporting events all year round, including the Dirt and Dust Festival or the Dunnart Bush Festival, both a major feature of the town's lifestyle. Julia Creek is also home to BHP's Cannington mine, the largest producter of silver from a single mine in the world.
Cloncurry is known as the friendly heart of the great north west because it is a welcome crossroads with a sparkling community spirit. An historic outback town of only 3000 souls, Cloncurry offers lots of community activities to reward the curious traveller who decides to linger a while. Swimming in the river during the wet season and playing cricket in the riverbend during the dry. Street parades, horse races, football matches, and the legendary Curry rodeo and Merry Muster. It's all part of life in Cloncurry.
Described as the Oasis of the Outback - a luminous vision on the horizon for travellers coming from all directions - Mount Isa lies among the ochre-red Selwyn Ranges, on the borders of the Leichhardt River. Over the years, Mount Isa has gone from strength to strength, but the wild outback scenery has hardly changed and has become one of the major drawcards for tourists.
Spectacular mountain views, cascading waterfalls, grandiose rivers, pristine beaches, and great fishing! Proud to be the first white 'settlement' in Australia, Cook shire is the right place to go to escape all your worries and stresses. Cooktown is a whole experience in itself... snorkel, fish, watch crocs, or just relax.
In Cape Tribulation you will find lush tropical rainforest, crystal clear swimming holes and long sandy beaches. This is where the rainforest quite literally meets the reef.
The Daintree region is home of the region's most exotic rainforest wildlife, including our living dinosaur, the saltwater crocodile.
Only an hour north of Cairns, Port Douglas is the perfect hideaway, boasting a superb tropical climate all year round and is the perfect place to get away from it all. Here you will find long sandy beaches, great shopping and a variety of top restaurants as well as a wide range of fantastic accommodation.
Cairns is proud to carry the mantle of the safest tropical city in the world. The city is the ideal base from where to explore the area surrounding it, but Cairns itself has lots to offer to the visitor. Days packed with different activities and spectacular nightlife to make everyone's holidays a dream. You'll want to stay in Cairns forever. We did!
Innisfail is an attractive little sugar town located in the banks of Johnstone River. Fishing spots along the river, charming old buildings, a multicultural atmosphere and beautiful gardens make Innisfail a delightful town and a great spot to explore the area surrounding it. And don't miss the ruined Spanish castle in the forest!
Palm-fringed beaches, secluded coves, turquoise waters, fantastic fishing and much more make Mission Beach a paradise for those seeking a break from everyday life. Surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropic Rainforest, Mission Beach has something for everyone and it is a haven for the senses.
With a population of over 160,000 Townsville is regarded as the 'capital' of North Queensland. The city boasts up to 320 days of sunshine a year, so it's no wonder it's such a popular winter destination for those cold blooded Southerners!
Airlie Beach is the jumping off point for the enchanting Whitsunday Islands, but the lively little tourist town is a genuine destination in itself. With the Conway National Park and Conway State Forest as a backdrop and the spectacular Whitsunday Islands at its front door, it's no wonder Airlie Beach is so popular.
The bustling rural town of Atherton is at the hub of the lush, volcanic highland region known as the Atherton Tablelands, beginning just inland of Cairns. Atherton is a pleasant 90 minute drive from either Cairns, Port Douglas or Innisfail. For more detailed driving times within the Atherton Tablelands, click on the marker to visit our Atherton Tablelands page.
Click on any of the highlighted towns to find driving times and distances from there to all major points in Tropical North Queensland OR click here for detailed highway information.
Roll your mouse over any of the highway signs for detailed information about that highway OR click here to find driving times and distances between all major points in Tropical North Queensland.
The coastal route from Cape Tribulation to Cooktown is suitable for 4WD vehicles only and runs via the Bloomfield Track. Always check road conditions before heading out onto this stretch of unsealed track, as the coast road can be closed during the wet season for up to a few days at a time.
Heading north, the track crosses the Bloomfield River and emerges into Australia's last great frontier - the Cape York Peninsula. Points of interest along the way include Wujal Wujal Aboriginal community, Cedar Bay National Park, Black Mountain National Park, and Keating's Lagoon.
The Bruce Highway is the major coastal highway of Queensland, and is the state's biggest traffic carrier. Stretching 1700 kilometres from Brisbane to Cairns, the Bruce Highway is also part of National Highway 1. In the south of the state, the Bruce Highway features long sections of dual carriageway, but as you venture further north, population becomes much less dense, vehicle numbers decrease as does road funding.
A number of city bypasses, particularly in the south, have diverted traffic around major centres in order to expedite traffic flow and ease urban congestion. As a result, the highway is constantly being shortened.
Due to the nature of Wet weather and tropical cyclone prone areas of North Queensland, The Bruce Highway is set to undergo realignment and floodproofing on a stretch of road between Cardwell and Tully. The current stretch is prone to frequent flooding in the wet season.
The A2 is an important part of the National Highway System, linking Darwin and Brisbane. West of Cloncurry, it is known as the Barkly Highway, and stretches 755 kilometres to Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory.
The 1028 kilometres section which runs southest through outback Queensland is known as the Landsborough Highway or the Matilda Highway. This highway services a significant sheep and cattle grazing region, tourist traffic and local properties. The road surface is fully sealed but with many sections of substandard width and quality. It is also flood prone, with lengthy closures during floods.
The Flinders Highway crosses Queensland almost from east to west, stretching 784 kilometres from Townsville on the Pacific coast to the outback town of Cloncurry. Heading west from Townsville, the Flinders Highway passes through the small towns of Charters Towers, Hughenden, Richmond and Julia Creek, as well as a number of even smaller regional villages. This route is also known as the 'Overlanders Way'.
The Gregory Highway serves the major coal-mining centres of Central Queensland. It runs southward from outside Georgetown off the Gulf Developmental Road, via Lynd Junction and Charters Towers, to Rolleston, nearly 1000 kilometres away.
North of Clermont it is known as the Gregory Developmental Road or the Great Inland Road and it is a very lonely scrubland road comprised of one-laned bitumen used mainly by road trains.
The eastern stretch of National Route 1 is known as the Kennedy Highway. It originates at Smithfield, on the northern outskirts of Cairns, and climbs up into the Atherton Tableland before heading in a general south-westerly direction. The (mostly two lane) highway runs for approximately 250 kilometres to a junction near Undara Volcanic National Park. Major towns on, or just off, the Kennedy Highway include Smithfield, Kuranda, Mareeba, Atherton, Ravenshoe and Mount Garnet. South of this junction, the road continues as the Kennedy Developmental Road (State Highway 62). National Route 1 and the Gulf Developmental Road head west to Normanton via Georgetown.
The Gulf Developmental Road is the only sealed (asphalt) road linking the Cairns and Normanton regions. The Gulf Developmental Road terminates at its junction with the Burke Developmental Road, seven kilometres south of Normanton. Towns along the route include Mt Surprise, Georgetown and Croydon.
The Captain Cook Highway itself is technically only 75 kilometres long, but in addition to the Daintree-Mossman Road, it connects Cairns with the village of Daintree, on the banks of the Daintree River, 150 kilometres to the north.
Traffic on the Captain Cook Highway is mostly comprised of tourists travelling between the city of Cairns, the Northern Beaches and Port Douglas. Apart from being a vital link between two tourist locations, the Captain Cook Highway is a magnificent highway that winds it way alongside the coast with tropical rainforest on one side and sandy beaches on the other. In fact, you might have difficulty keeping your eyes on the road. Make sure you stop at Rex Lookout – the perfect point to view the Coral Sea and beaches.
North of the Daintree River, the road is now fully sealed as far as Cape Tribulation. However, it can be narrow in places as it twists through dense rainforest and around spurs of the Alexandra range.
From the end of the Kennedy Highway near Undara Volcanic National Park, the the road continues south as the Kennedy Developmental Road (State Highway 62) via Hughenden eventually to Boulia nearly 1000 kilometres away.
The Mulligan Highway runs between Mareeba and Cooktown, passing through the historic mining and timber town of Mount Molloy and small farming centre of Lakeland, also known as 'Lakeland Downs'. Situated in the picturesque Laura River Valley, Lakeland is home to one of the largest coffee plantations in Australia, you can taste the local brew at the coffee lounge. Lakeland also provides access along 45km of unsealed road to the north to Laura and the world’s largest collection of prehistoric rock art.
Named after bushman James Venture Mulligan, the sealed Highway follows the old Cooktown Developmental Road and was completed in 2006. Since it has replaced the old unpaved track, travel times from Cairns to Cooktown have been reduced considerably.
The Burke Developmental Road is now sealed between Cloncurry and Normanton. Delays due to wet weather are now a rare occurence.
The Burke Developmental Road continues north of Normanton, through sparsely populated, barren, bulldust country, looping around the Staaten River National Park, and winding its way east to Chillagoe. This is an unsealed track, and driving conditions are suited to 4WD vehicles only. Be aware that there are free roaming cattle all over this region.