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Essence of the Outback

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14 days of Outback Queensland’s very best.

Experience the Outback on a 4WD adventure that takes you deep into the Queensland Savannah country. Visit the iconic towns of Charter Towers, Cloncurry, Mt Isa and Karumba as well as the Riversleigh Fossil site and ride the Gulflander Train. View complete itinerary

Trip code: GOCQ14
Duration: 14 days
Accommodation: To enhance your Outback experience
Journey: Cairns Return
Meals included: 38

Itinerary

Day 1. Arrive Cairns

Arrive in Cairns and be met at the airport for a transfer to your hotel. Tonight, meet your fellow travellers during a Welcome Dinner with your Tour Director and Driver-Guide.
Stay: Cairns, Shangri-La Hotel, The Marina
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Dinner

Day 2. Woodleigh Station, Undara Lava Tubes

After breakfast at your hotel, travel to Woodleigh Station for morning tea. This picturesque North Queensland cattle property has been family-owned for five generations and offers an authentic Australian experience and genuine homemade hospitality. After some time here, you will then travel to the striking Millstream Falls, said to be the widest single-drop waterfall in Australia. Continue to Undara for lunch before embarking on The Archway Explorer tour of the lava tubes. Formed around 190,000 years ago when a major volcano in the McBride volcanic province erupted, the Undara Lava Tubes are a spectacular sight. Over two hours, hear from a Savannah Guide about the formation of these astounding tubes. This evening you are in for a special treat as you spend the night in a beautifully restored train carriage, right in the heart of the Australian bush.
Stay: Undara Experience
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 3. Undara, Gulflander Train, Karumba Sunset Cruise

For breakfast this morning, savour billy tea and freshly brewed coffee, as you cook your toast over the coals of the campfire. Then, set off on the legendary Gulflander Train, also known as the ‘Tin Hare’. Said to travel from ‘nowhere to nowhere’, the line was never connected to the state rail network and takes passengers through countryside that many people will never see. Learn about the area’s pioneering history from a Savannah Guide. Then, travel to Karumba where you’ll relax with a cold drink and enjoy fresh local prawns as you capture the sunset over the spectacular Gulf of Carpentaria.
Stay: Karumba, End Of the Road Motel
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 4. Purple Pub, Mt Isa

Wake up this morning for breakfast at your hotel before setting off for the day bound for Mt Isa, commonly referred to as the ‘oasis of the Outback’. En route, stop to see the Purple Pub, which is one of the most iconic hotels in the north of Australia due to its unusual colouring. Later, discover the incredible termite mounds strewn across the Australian landscape on your way to Mt Isa.
Stay: Two Nights, Mt Isa, Red Earth Hotel
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 5. Mt Isa, Hard Times Mine


After breakfast this morning, enjoy a full day to further discover Mt Isa. Located on the banks of the Leichhardt River and nestled amidst the ochre-red Selwyn Ranges, the city is a melting pot of culture and industry. It is also well known as home to the world’s third-largest rodeo. Your included activity today is a tour of Hard Times Mine. Head down into the depths of the mine along with your experienced local guide, who has worked as a miner for most of their life. Donned with overalls and cap lamps, enter the Alimak Cage and descend as your guide shares the history of the mine and their experiences as a miner during the good times and the hard. You’ll also see how the tunnels are formed and shaped by the drills and mucking units. Feel the earth tremble and cover your ears as you try using the incredible air-leg drill. After this immersive tour, the remainder of the afternoon is yours to enjoy at leisure. Perhaps discover Riversleigh Fossil Centre or the Outback Park (own expense).
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 6. Cloncurry, Winton

Embark on a drive to the Outback town of Cloncurry today. Nestled on the banks of the Cloncurry River, the town was founded by Ernest Henry in 1867 with the discovery of copper. After some time here, visit the newly built Waltzing Matilda Centre – a treasured town icon that was lost to a fire then rebuilt in recent years. The Waltzing Matilda Centre is the first museum in the world dedicated to a song and includes a nostalgic light and sound show in the Billabong Theatrette, as well as a depiction of the song through technical and interactive displays in the ‘Home of the Legend’ room. Within the centre, there is also the Qantilda Pioneer Place Museum, which honours the accomplishments and hardships of Winton’s pioneers. After time exploring these exhibits, wander the Outback Regional Gallery, which houses a range of beautiful individual and touring artwork. This evening, enjoy dinner at the Tattersalls Hotel.
Stay: Winton, Boulder Opal Motor Inn
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 7. Australian Age Of Dinosaurs, Lark Quarry, Longreach

After breakfast, travel to the Australian Age Of Dinosaurs exhibition for a guided tour. As part of your exclusive experience with APT, enjoy working with recently unearthed dinosaur fossils in a specialised laboratory. See 100-million-year-old bones and learn how professional tools are used. Then, continue to Lark Quarry to visit the Dinosaur Trackways exhibit, known as one of the best and most concentrated set of dinosaur footprints in the world. Here, find more than 3,000 individual footprints, from small ornithopods to large theropod dinosaurs, preserved on a trackway surface roughly the size of a tennis court. Based on the prints created, scientists have interpreted this site to be the location of a stampede of small dinosaurs running away from a larger predator. Afterwards, continue to Longreach and Kinnon and Co. Outback Accommodation, where you’ll settle in for the next two nights.
Stay: Two Nights: Longreach, Kinnon and Co. Outback Accommodation
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 8. Longreach, Thomson River Cruise

Today, visit the Qantas Founders Outback Museum, a world-class and award-winning museum that tells the story of Qantas through interpretive displays, interactive exhibits, original and replica aircraft, and an impressive collection of genuine artefacts. Spend some time wandering the exhibits here before heading to the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre. Located in the town of Longreach, the beautifully constructed museum is an iconic feature of the Queensland Outback. And since its opening in 1988, the Hall of Fame has provided an authentic Outback experience for more than one million interstate travellers. This evening, enjoy a sunset cruise along the Thomson River, where the Captain will share his knowledge with you about the river, its wildlife and the Indigenous history. Pause at Sunset Bend to toast to the stunning colours of the Outback sky before enjoying a delicious three-course drover dinner and an entertaining theatre show.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 9. Carnarvon National Park

This morning after breakfast, set off for the beautiful Carnarvon National Park. With an abundance of birdlife, unique plant life and freshwater creeks, Carnarvon National Park is a stunning oasis amidst the dusty heart of Central Queensland. Along the way, stop at the famed Tree Of Knowledge, which is known as the founding site of the political movement that helped to create the Australian Labor Party. Later, check-in to the beautiful Carnarvon Gorge Wilderness Lodge for a relaxing two-night stay.
Stay: Two Nights: Carnarvon National Park, Carnarvon Gorge Wilderness Lodge
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 10. Carnarvon Gorge

During a half-day tour, take in the arresting landscapes of Carnarvon National Park, including the spectacular Carnarvon Gorge. As you explore the area, admire its soaring sandstone cliffs, vibrantly coloured gorges and diverse wildlife. Learn about the significance of the park to the local Indigenous people as you discover the beautiful rock art found here. Thought to have been in used for around 3,650 years, see examples of stencilling techniques on the rocks, considered to be the most sophisticated of their kind in the world. Later this afternoon, perhaps take a walk amidst the picturesque surrounds or simply relax by the pool at your lodge.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 11. Minerva Hills National Park, Emerald

This morning after breakfast, set off to visit the striking Minerva Hills National Park. Here, see its diverse habitats of grassland, open forests and jagged peaks, as well as some of the oldest volcanoes in the eastern Australian continent – dating back some 20 million years. Keep an eye out for eastern grey kangaroos, as well as wallaroos and wallabies, throughout the park. Afterwards, continue on to Emerald – a large, modern country town that was established in 1879 as a base for building the western railway. Named after Emerald Downs Hill, a lush emerald-green hill located north of township, the town is a hub within the Central Highlands and a gateway to the Sapphire Gemfields.
Stay: Emerald Maraboon Motor Inn
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 12. Charters Towers

After breakfast this morning, travel to Blackwood National Park to enjoy a picnic lunch within its idyllic setting. Take in the picturesque landscapes of the park including the rugged hills, striking gorges, black-soil plains and diverse plant life. Afterwards, continue travelling to Charters Towers. Established as a gold rush town in 1871, Charters Towers quickly grew to become the second-largest town in Queensland. Admire the beautiful heritage buildings as you make your way to the Heritage Lodge Motel for an overnight stay.
Stay: Charters Towers, Heritage Lodge Motel
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 13. Paronella Park, Cairns

On the way back to Cairns, stop at the stunning Paronella Park on the banks of the pristine Mena Creek. Home to 13 acres of lush Australian rainforest and heritage gardens, this unique and eco-friendly attraction also features a Spanish-inspired castle. Purchased by José Paronella in 1929 after relocating from Spain, he began to create the stunning gardens that can be seen today. Together with his wife, they laboured over the park until 1935, when it became officially opened to the public. After time exploring these beautiful grounds, continue on to the five-star Shangri-La Hotel, The Marina for a Farewell Dinner.
Stay: Cairns, Shangri-La Hotel, The Marina
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 14. Depart Cairns

Your holiday comes to an end after a final breakfast this morning. Bid farewell to your Tour Director, Driver-Guide and new-found friends before being transferred to the airport for your onward flight home.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast

Trip Highlights

  • Embark on an incredible tour of the Undara lava tubes, formed around 190,000 years ago
  • Enjoy a spectacular cruise in Karumba as the sun sets over the Gulf of Carpentaria
  • EXCLUSIVE! Work with real dinosaur fossils at the Australian Age Of Dinosaurs Exhibition in a specialised laboratory, handling 100-million-year-old bones
  • Take a sunset cruise along the Thomson River aboard the Longreach Explorer
  • Enjoy a full day to explore the arresting landscapes of Carnarvon Gorge

Map

Included Experiences

  • All-inclusive sightseeing experiences in up to 15 locations 
  • Expert two-person crew – Driver-Guide and Tour Director
  • Small group travel with a maximum of 20 guests   
  • Travel in a custom-designed 4WD vehicle   
  • Qantas flight from Horn Island to Cairns
  • All meals, sightseeing, national park fees and airport transfers
  • A total of 38 meals

Additional Information

Activity Level

  • A good level of fitness and health is required to participate in APT’s holiday packages.  Some sightseeing excursions will involve the climbing of stairs and walking over uneven surfaces and in some cases walking over rocks and through shallow streams. This tour contains mainly easy walks with some more moderate walks.  Sturdy walking shoes are an absolute must on all adventures.  Please enquire about our Health and Fitness Mobility checklist at the time of booking

Frequently Asked Questions

Trip Notes

  • Itinerary and inclusions subject to change
  • Weather may cause disruptions to itinerary
  • APT highly recommends travel insurance
  • Price is for land only. Flights not included

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