No need to hurry through Cloncurry
Known as ‘The Curry’, Cloncurry is just under 1.5 hours drive from Mount Isa and is located on the Outlanders Way, a 1100km stretch of road overland from Townsville to Mount Isa. It’s a veritable timeline of Australian history from the dinosaur era right through to the pioneering past.
Few places can claim to be as influential in shaping Australia, as Cloncurry. It is the birthplace of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the destination of the first Qantas flight. Survivor Australia fans may have picked up that the 2021 TV series was filmed across multiple Outback Queensland locations, but primarily on two cattle stations in Cloncurry for most of the camps challenges and Tribal Council.
Affectionately called the Friendly Heart of the Great North West, it is worth spending a few days in Cloncurry instead of just passing through. What you will find is a community that celebrates outback life, the true Australian way. It is easy to see why they are the ‘friendly heart’. What you will also find is plenty to do in this small but vibrant outback town.
John Flynn Place Museum and Art Gallery
The town of Cloncurry was put on the map being the birthplace of the Royal Flying Doctor’s Service. The John Flynn Place Museum and Art Gallery celebrates an era when aviation and radio united the Outback, and the Royal Flying Doctors Service provided a welcome health service for its residents. Learn about Arthur Affleck, the first flying doctor pilot, and his story about how he hired a single-engine timber and material plane from Qantas for the first Royal Doctors flight.
Chinaman Creek Dam
Chinaman Creek Dam is perfect for a spot of fishing, to do some bird watching, take a dip or enjoy sunset views that bring the beauty of this land to light. The landscape surrounding the dam is quite distinctive with its red craggy rock formations and burnt umber termite hills poking up from the surrounding low hills. Make a day of it as there are several free barbecue and picnic facilities for you to make use of while there.
Cloncurry Unearthed Museum
At the Cloncurry Unearthed Museum, you will find an array of treasures from an extensive gem and mineral collection, information about fossickers licences and maps and a very famous water bottle. Early pioneers Burke and Wills passed Cloncurry on their ill-fated expedition and on that journey, Burke left behind his water bottle. It was moved from its final resting place out bush and now sits in the museum along with stories about their explorations.
Mary Kathleen Memorial Park and Museum
Next to the Cloncurry Unearthed Visitor Information Centre and Museum is the Mary Kathleen Memorial Park Complex. Mary Kathleen, was a uranium mining town, about midway between Mount Isa and Cloncurry, in the Cloncurry Shire. The once-booming town was built around a shallow valley with a post office, cinema, sports ovals, a school, banks and a community store. In 1982, reserves were finally exhausted and the site was rehabilitated, with most of the buildings sold and removed. The site became well known for fossicking and gemstone collecting and numerous relics are held in the Cloncurry/Mary Kathleen Memorial Park and Museum in Cloncurry. In the memorial park, you will find on display old historic mining, rail and farm equipment including a unique 1941 Ford V8 Rail Ambulance which was used when roads were impassible.
Where to stay when you visit Cloncurry
Gidgee Inn Motel
Have a motel stay with a difference. The Gidgee Inn has something a little bit unique, with its rammed earth walls, you will be tempted to touch the walls just to feel the texture. Built in 1997, the rammed earth uses Cloncurry’s rich red soils, giving a sense that you are staying underground. This Australian styled 4-star motel also features a bar and grill, making it a great stop in this regional hub.
The Wagon Wheel Motel
The Wagon Wheel Motel serves up a hearty outback meal with a side of historic memorabilia from the town. Just make sure you order early as this place is a popular stop for hungry travellers and locals alike and the wait time for dinner might have you drinking a few too many beers before eating.
Red Door Cafe
If you are looking for a good coffee, head to the Red Door Cafe, a community initiative café that acts as a training facility for young and unemployed locals, addressing social, employment and learning barriers. It is the place to grab your coffee before your next drive or simply relax with a cold drink and escape the heat.
For more on Cloncurry, visit here.
Top 3 tips for your visit to Cloncurry
- Don’t just pass through, make it a stop on your itinerary. A good three or four days will get you just scraping the surface.
- Escape the heat and take a dip in Chinaman Creek Dam to cool off
- Order the steak at the Wagon Wheel Motel, you won’t regret it
If you want to visit Cloncurry, Rex airlines fly to either Julia Creek or Mount Isa where it’s only a short drive in both directions.
See the map below and book your flights here;