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.
If coming from the Atherton Tablelands, you will pass through Mount Surprise on Highway 1. Mount Surprise is an old railway town on the Cairns to Forsayth line. It sits aside an immense lava flow from an ancient volcano, and signals the beginning (or the end, if you're coming the other way) of the Gulf Savannah. The historic SAVANNAHLANDER train still passes through Mount Surprise bound for Einasleigh and Forsayth once a week.

Map of the routes to Mount Surprise and Georgetown. Ninety two kilometres west of Mount Surprise, on the far side of the Newcastle Range - and about 400 kilometres inland of Cairns - is Georgetown, these days a sleepy little place. In the late 1800's, the town was a flourishing gold mining town, the centre of the famous Etheridge goldfield. Georgetown owes its name to the goldfields, named after the then assistant gold commissioner in Gilberton, Mr. H. Saint George. Even the main street is called Saint George Street. But mining started to wane by the 1900's, and these days the population of Georgetown is around 300.

The town's decline from its once prosperous gold mining days is evident by the number of unoccupied buildings in the main street. Still, Georgetown is a pleasant outback town, and a great base from which to do a little exploration of the surrounding area. Despite its small population, Georgetown is well serviced and is a major point for visitors taking in the spectacular scenery and history of Australia's northern outback.

Underlying the Mount Surprise and Georgetown area is a vast formation of mineral rich pre-Cambrian rock, dating back more than 500 million years. Even today, this region is recognized as the centre of some of the best gemfields in Queensland; topaz, quartz, spinel, garnet, caringorn, aquamarine and sapphires are found by amateur prospectors, along with, of course, gold. It is advisable to check with the Mining Registrar at Georgetown or Etheridge Shire Council regarding regulations and licensing requirements for fossicking. You can also obtain licences from Mount Surprise Tourist Van Park and Motel as well as Mount Surprise Gems.

Agate Creek, 120 kilometres south of the town, is one of the popular places for gem fossickers. The agate in the area comes in every colour of the rainbow, and is most popular in the form known as 'thunder eggs'.

Birdwatchers will enjoy the wide variety of birdlife to be found in the area around Georgetown. The friendly staff at the information centre will give you more details about the varieties of birdlife present, and the best places to spot them.

One peculiarity that you may notice about Georgetown (remember, population 300) is the presence of not one, but two Shire Office buildings. The explanation is simple: since the new office was constructed, the old building still serves as a centre for local functions, meetings and even the occasional ball!


Fossils on display at Terrestrial, Georgetown. 400 kilometres west of Cairns.
Low Street, Georgetown (MAP)
Phone (07) 4079 9027

The Ted Elliott Mineral Collection!

Terrestrial means 'of the earth' and as such provides a ready name for TerrEstrial Georgetown and the extensive mineral collection, TerrEstrial - the Ted Elliott Mineral Collection.

A local collection of over 4,500 mineral specimens was opened to the public in early 2003. Named TerrEstrial, this collection is the work of one man, and houses the Ted Elliott mineral collection, a myriad of fascinating colours and shapes from the region and throughout the world. The Centre also provides up to date tourist information and is a fully accredited yellow 'i' Visitor Information Centre. You can make bookings to visit nearby attractions, view artwork, use the internet café and relax in the cool building.

Passengers who wish to enjoy the full Savannahlander experience can do a tour of the Undara Lava Tubes as well.The Savannahlander is a great way to get to Mt Surprise and the Undara Lava Tubes, in Tropical North Queensland Outback.THE SAVANNAHLANDER
Phone (07) 4053 6848 / Fax (07) 4053 6818
Tollfree 1800 793 848

The Outback rail experience!

The Savannahlander is a great way to get to Mt Surprise and the Undara Lava Tubes. The train departs Cairns on Wednesday and reaches Mt Surprise on Thursday after overnighting in Almaden (Chillagoe). For those wishing to spend plenty of time at Undara a transfer in available from Mt Surprise on Thursday which allows passengers to spend two nights exploring the tubes before returning by train on Saturday morning. Passengers who wish to enjoy the full Savannahlander experience can do a tour of the lava tubes on Friday afternoon.

Those with their own transport in Mt Surprise don't need to miss out on a trip on the Savannahlander. There are a number of options for half-day or overnight tours leaving from Mt Surprise.

The Savannahlander departs Cairns for Mt Surprise on Wednesday at 6.30am and arrives on Thursday at 11.45am. The train departs Mt Surprise for Cairns at 12.15pm on Saturday.

Mount Surprise Gems is the perfect place to break your journey, with real coffee, snacks, meals and home-made treats served from breakfast to dinner.MOUNT SURPRISE GEMS
Garland Street, Mount Surprise (MAP)
Phone (07) 4063 3055 / Fax (07) 4062 3099

Stop awhile and have some fun!

Relax unwind and enjoy...

See how semi-precious gems are made to sparkle, and check out the jewellery and gifts for purchase in the shop. The café is renowned for its snacks, meals and home-made treats served from breakfast to dinner. There is plenty to do around the native gardens with giant games to test your skills. Experience fossicking at its best. Buckets of wash available at the shop, or hire some gear, buy some gear and go it alone. The choice is yours. Mount Surprise Gems can:

Hire you the equipment
Issue you a licence
Give you a mudmap of the fossicking area
Give you lots of information about the minerals of the area and tell you how to go about finding them. Then you pack your own food and drinks etc and head out on the 45K gravel road to have a fun day.

It's a great experience and who knows what you might dig up. On your return Mount Surprise Gems are happy to appraise any of your treasures and suggest how to use them.

Cobbold Gorge, Forsayth
90 kilometres south of Georgetown
Phone (07) 4062 5470 / Fax (07) 4062 5453
Five Cobbold Gorge tours operate daily from the village and range from pure relaxation to soft adventure. Cobbold Gorge is a Savannah Guide Station and visits to the gorge are by guided tour only.

The Etheridge Goldfield was once populated with many small communities set up around gold strikes. It was known as the 'poor man's goldfield' because of its ability to produce nugget gold that could be surface collected. Scattered here and there are now the remains of these temporary settlements. One of the more famous is the Gilberton area.

The Cumberland Chimney, built by Cornish masons, is all that remains of a crushing plant that once crushed the gold bearing ore for surrounding mines. It sits next to a lagoon, which is rich in bird life. The Cumberland Chimney is approximately 25 kilometres along on the left hand side of the road going west towards Croydon. Part of the site is contaminated so care should be taken and signs observed.

The town's public swimming pool is open all year during daylight hours. Gate tokens are available from the BP and Ampol Service Stations. The recently developed Etheridge Heritage Park in the centre of the town boasts a free electric barbecue amongst shaded trees and modern public toilets including a baby change station.

There is a signed walk that takes you down the river on one side of the town and along Sandy Creek on the other side of the town. There are 14 entrance gates, rest areas are strategically placed and it is ideal for birdwatchers. There are many interesting historical features in Georgetown from the restored Shire Hall in Saint George Street (built in 1908 and restored in 1998), the restored ex-Clerk of the Court dwelling in the same street, the Masonic Temple on the corner of Haldane and Cumberland Streets, The Catholic Church in High Street (established 1913), the cemetery (past the Golf Course on the northern end of Saint George Street).

For two days you can enjoy lots of activities suitable for people of all ages. Starting with the Battle of the Bulls on Friday night, the weekend goes on with a mini rodeo for kids up to 12 years. And Sunday comes with the Open Rodeo, where cowboys from as far as New South Wells compete to be the best one. Calf wrestling, calf roping, saddle bronc with bucking horsing, the activities are numerous.

See our TROPICAL NORTH QUEENSLAND EVENTS CALENDAR for details of these and other regular events in the region.


Georgetown holiday accommodation includes traditional pub style lodging, a resort motel and caravan parks, some with self contained and ensuite cabins. Mount Surprise has a couple of caravan parks, with a choice of cabins and units, as well as caravan sites and camping. Scroll down or use the buttons in the right hand column to choose your style of Georgetown and Mount Surprise accommodation.


Georgetown Wenaru Hotel offers quality holiday accommodation and great home made meals.GEORGETOWN WENARU HOTEL
Saint George Street, Georgetown (MAP)
Phone (07) 4062 1208 / Fax (07) 4062 1271

more details coming soon!

Wenaru Hotel offers budget accommodation and great home made meals.


Latara Motel is located in Georgetown in the heart of the Savannah Way, in Far North Queensland.Latara Motel, in Georgetown, in the Savannah Way, has a range of room types all located at ground floor level for easy access.LATARA RESORT MOTEL
Gulf Development Road, Georgetown (MAP)
Phone (07) 4062 1190 / Fax (07) 4062 1262

Your oasis in the outback!

Latara Motel is spread over seven acres of natural bushland gardens and sweeping lawns, creating an oasis in the desert. The Motel offers all modern conveniences including air conditioned rooms, guest laundry, saltwater swimming pool, BBQ area and fully licensed restaurant and bar open 7 days, catering for small groups through to large functions. Latara Motel has a range of room types all located at ground floor level for easy access. The rooms are self contained, with single, double, queen and king size beds available, as well as family rooms. The facilities include a saltwater swimming pool.

So, whether you are planning your next holiday or passing through on business come and enjoy country hospitality and meet their friendly team at Latara Motel.

Right in the heart of Mount Surprise, this tourist park offers different styles of accommodation to suit everybody.Mount Surprise Tourist Van Park has won a number of awards.MOUNT SURPRISE TOURIST VAN PARK
23 Garland Street, Mount Surprise (MAP)
Phone (07) 4062 3153 / Fax (07) 4062 3162

Tourism award winner!

Located right in the heart of town, Mount Surprise Tourist Van Park offers different styles of accommodation to suit everybody. From cabins and motel units to shady camping grounds and powered sites, there is something for every budget. The park, away from the main road noise, is also a birdwatchers' paradise, attracting native parrots and finches among hundreds of other birds.

Mount Surprise Tourist Van Park has won different awards, including Clean and green Etheridge Shire Council Gardening Award 1998-2003 & Gulf Savannah Tourism Award (2000).

Garnet Street, Mount Surprise
Phone (07) 4062 3193 / Fax (07) 4062 3166
Bedrock Village is a beautifully landscaped park with 9 acres of lawns and gardens. All powered and unpowered sites are large and drive through with shady trees on either side of the bays.

Cobbold Gorge, Forsayth
90 kilometres south of Georgetown
Phone (07) 4062 5470 / Fax (07) 4062 5453
A range of accommodation is on offer from comfortable air-conditioned cabins to bush camping. Cobbold Village offers a level soft camp ground with lots of trees.

George Street, Georgetown
Phone (07) 4062 1269
Goldfields is a quiet caravan park, located in a big neat parkland and featuring many shady areas to fight the heat. As well as air-conditioned ensuite units with kitchenettes, the caravan park offers drive-throguh large powered sites.

North Street, Georgetown
Phone (07) 40621 219


Gulf Development Road, Georgetown
Phone (07) 4062 1190 / Fax (07) 4062 1262
Latara Motel features a fully licensed restaurant and bar open seven days, catering for small groups through to large functions.

Garland Street, Mount Surprise
Phone (07) 4062 3115 / Fax (07) 4062 3004
Latara Motel features a fully licensed restaurant and bar open seven days, catering for small groups through to large functions.


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Cairns Unlimited will find you the best deal on a rental car so you can discover the Northern Outback at your own pace.Georgetown is an easy five or six hours drive along Highway 1 from Cairns. Of course, it would be a shame to do this drive without exploring a little along the way. We especially recommend a stop at the unique UNDARA LAVA TUBES and of course take your time and enjoy the diverse nature and typical North Queensland atmosphere of the ATHERTON TABLELANDS. Not everybody will be up for the challenge - and this part of the country does provide its share of challenges - but we believe that the grandeur and vastness of the Northern Outback can be best experienced form behind the wheel of your own vehicle. For the freedom and flexibility to explore at your own pace, please visit our CAR HIRE page. Simply fill out our obligation free enquiry form, and we will get back to you - usually the next working day - with the best deal on a a rental car, four wheel drive or campervan to suit your needs.

Road trains are a common sight on the outback roads of Tropical North Queensland.Major roads in the region are sealed, but there are a number of unsealed roads. Before travelling, be sure to check CURRENT ROAD CONDITIONS. Care should be taken when travelling on roads within this remote region of the Northern Outback, as numerous ROAD TRAINS ply the highways.

Georgetown and Mount Surprise are also serviced by local tour operators, as part of a longer outback experience. To view the range of tours available, please visit our OUTBACK TOURS page.

Savannah Aviation offers charters flights to the Northern Outback destinations.Savannah Aviation offers charter flights to many of the outback destinations, including nearby Normanton. Phone (07) 4745 5177.

Trans North Bus and Coach offers a route from Cairns to Karumba, stopping in Georgetown along the way.Trans North Bus and Coach offers a route from Cairns to Karumba, stopping in many of the outback towns along the way. These towns include Undara, Mount Surprise, Georgetown, Croydon and Normanton. The route leaves Cairns every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6.30am and gets to Karumba at 6.00pm. The eastbound route then leaves Karumba on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 6.30am and arrives in Cairns at 6.15pm.

Phone (07) 4053 6848 / Fax (07) 4053 6818
The Savannahlander makes its way to Mount Surprise every Wednesday and getting there on Thursday, after having 'overnighted' in Almaden. The train from Mount Surprise back to Cairns every Saturday morning, getting to Cairns in the early evening.

Burketown is a tiny gulf 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... Click to visit our Burketown page. 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. Click to visit our Karumba page. 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. Click to visit our Normanton page. 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. Click to visit our Croydon page. 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. Click to visit our Georgetown page. Undara Volcanic National parks is one of the highlights of Tropical North Queensland, and is less than 100 kilometres from Mount Garnet. Click to visit our Undara page. 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. Click to visit our Mount Isa page. Cloncurry is known as the friendly heart of the great north west because it is a welcome crossroads with a sparkling community spirit. Click to visit our Cloncurry page. 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. Click to visit our Julia Creek page. 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. Click to visit our Richmond page. There are many attractions around Hughenden, with gemfields, mountainous volcanic basalt country, sweeping black soil plains rich in fossils. Oh, the town is surrounded by four National Parks. Click to visit our Hughenden page. Charters Towers 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. Click to visit our Charters Towers page. Cairns is a tourist Mecca, and one of the most popular travel destinations in Australia. Click to visit our Cairns page. Townsville is the largest city in Tropical North Queensland, a bustling cosmopolitan city, and the stepping off point to popular Magnetic Island. Click to visit our Townsville page. Map of the Northern Outback region of Tropical North Queensland. Click on a destination to visit that particular page. Sunset over an old fashioned windmill in Queensland's northern outback.
Gold panning by an outback stream.


In case of emergency only, dial 000. In all other cases, phone the local service :

Ambulance (07) 4062 1266
Hospital (07) 4062 1266
Police (07) 4062 1209

Internet access is available at:

Bedrock Van Park, Mt Surprise
Terrestrial, Georgetown