A must-visit stop on the Overlanders Way
In the Shire of Mckinlay you will find the quaint town of Julia Creek, known to the locals as ‘The Creek’. If you are driving the Overlanders Way, the main travelling route from Townsville to Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, you will pass through this tiny town and most travellers will use it as a rest stop on their journey.
They say Julia Creek lies in the heart of the Outback and is the business centre of the McKinlay Shire. The townships of Kynuna and McKinlay (also in the McKinlay Shire) are part of the Matilda Way that begins in Cunnamulla, finishing in Karumba. It has a population of just over 500 people, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in atmosphere.
The Julia Creek watercourse flows north-westerly via the town into the Cloncurry River and there are two water holes near town that make for ideal swimming, fishing, bird watching and picnicking. One is on the Flinders River called Punchbowl Water Hole which is 45 kilometers northeast of Julia Creek and the other is Sedan Dip, 100 kilometres north of Julia Creek.
Head out for a walk at sunrise or in the late afternoon and you will be surprised at what wildlife you will find. There is a seven-kilometre nature trail that runs behind the Julia Creek Caravan Park that will provide an opportunity to spot kangaroos, brolgas, emus and lizards. If you are lucky, you may even spot a rare Dunnart. These endangered nocturnal marsupials, which are no bigger than a mouse, are near impossible to spot in their natural habitat. However, if you head to the local Visitor Information Centre you can get an up-close Dunnart encounter during their daily feeding time at 10am and 2pm.
Bathe in the Outback
There is however a rather unique place to cool off and take a dip. The Artesian Baths at Julia Creek Caravan Park are possibly one of the most interesting experiences you will find out here. Jump in and relax as you watch the sun set over the glorious outback landscape all while enjoying a cheese platter and a glass of wine (or poison of your choice). The bath areas are private and built with wood and corrugated iron to give you a true outback bush bathing experience.
With the wide-open spaces comes views across the land as far as the eye can see. This makes it a perfect sunset backdrop. Anywhere in town serves up a sensational sunset but the best place to catch the sinking sun and last of the light is at the iconic large windmill. Watch as the sky turns a pastel of pinks and purples before morphing into a deep orange light, all as the windmill creeks and groans and it turns.
Where to stay
Julia Creek Caravan Park is where you want to be in Julia Creek. It caters for caravans, motorhomes, camping and even has self-contained units. The visitors here rave about the award-winning Bush Dinner nights each Monday night, where local produce is cooked by a local non-profit community group, and you can catch a live gig or hear a local yarn told by a true blue outback Aussie while sitting around the campfire. All for just $15 per person.
Where to eat
Julia Creek Top Pub at Julia Creek Hotel is just that, a top pub in town to get your grub and a cold brewski. A piece of history, the first Julia Creek Hotel burnt down so the Metropole Hotel in Charters Towers was purchased and relocated to this site where it was renamed the Julia Creek Hotel. Meals are large, tasty and at a great price too! The toughest part is choosing what to order.
Before leaving Julia Creek, head on out to the neighbouring town of McKinlay – you won’t be disappointed. In a town of approximately 14 people, you would think there was not much going on here. With the main street littered with rolling tumbleweeds, you will feel as far removed from any big city as possible. Here you will find the town pub, Walkabout Creek Hotel, made famous in the movie Crocodile Dundee. This pub was the backdrop for the famous bar brawl scene from the blockbuster movie, and much of the town was also featured in the movie.
Tips for your visit
- Make sure you book your stay at Julia Creek Caravan Park before arrival as it gets busy and books out fast
- Take the time to have a bath in the Artesian Baths. You can even take your own drinks in.
- Head to the giant windmill for sunset photos
- Visit the Information Centre for the Dunnart encounter
Travel to Julia Creek
Rex Airlines flies to Julia Creek on their Northern 2 line from Townsville.
See the map below for details on how to travel to any of the places mentioned above and book your flight here.