Mt. Isa is a mining town like no other. Originally home to the Kalkaboon Aboriginal Tribe, this city of 22,000, is one of the largest producers of copper, zinc, lead and silver in the west. In fact, Mt. Isa is one of the top two largest copper mines in Australia. Founded by John Campbell Miles in 1923 while on a mining expedition, Mt. Isa offers history, nature and exploration for travellers.
Doing Road trip around Mt. Isa means rugged terrain and the need for a reliable 4WD vehicle – to really have an authentic outback experience. With so many interesting and cool places to see ‘off the beaten path’ there’s just no other way to do it than with a 4WD.
There are numerous road trip destinations near Mt. Isa with the expansive outdoors calling out to explore. Grab your gear, your 4WD and get ready to explore a postcard perfect region of the Sunshine State.
Quick Links to each Road Trip Near Mount Isa
- Riversleigh Fossil Sites
- Boodjamulla National Park
- Lake Moondarra
- Wee McGregor Mine
- Telstra Hill
- Tennant Creek
- Julia Creek
Here Goes Each One Of The Spot In Details:
1. Riversleigh Fossil Sites
Location: 360 km from Mt. Isa
Where to Stay: Adel’s Grove
Eating Options: Adel’s Grove
This is a must see on your list. With fossils more than 25 million years old, what makes this one time rainforest even more spectacular is the rarity of these fossils. Preserved in limestone, a soft sedimentary rock, these rare specimens have retained their three dimensional shape. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ranks Riversleigh as one of the top ten fossils sites across the globe. This site is at the southernmost edge of the Boodjamulla National Park – the next suggested stop on your tour. Many of the roads getting here are dirt and rough so you’ll want a 4WD you can trust.
2. Boodjamulla National Park
Location: 390 km from Mt. Isa
Where to Stay: Lawn Hill Gorge camp or Adel’s Grove
Eating Options: Adel’s Grove or bring your own food but no fires are permitted.
This gem in the outback is located about 207 km from Barkly Highway and is more than a day trip from Mt. Isa but well worth the effort to get there. You’ll need your 4wd to access much of this majestic park. Boodjamulla National Park is home to some spectacular sites well worth the trip. With abundant walking trails from easy to difficult, a trip here will give you a glimpse of amazing tufa formations, basking crocodiles, numerous bird species, breathtaking vegetation, panoramic views of sandstone ranges, falls, creeks and more.
This area has strong connections to the Waanyi Aboriginal people who ask visitors to respect their culture and not take photos in several areas such as the Wild Dog Dreaming site. Reservations are recommended and you must bring your own food. There’s also Adel’s Grove about 10km from here where you’ll find more accommodations such as tents or rooms with food available.
The National Park is also home to the cool Lawn Hill Gorge. This emerald coloured water site is a must see in Boodjamulla National Park. Also known as ‘Oasis of the Outback’, this gorge is fed by the Lawn Hill Creek whose water supply comes from freshwater springs from limestone plateaus to the west. This magnificent water source promotes abundant vegetation and wildlife. This majestic park is a stark contrast to much of the outback and well worth the trip.
Please visit this link from Stula’s Travel blog to see more photos of Lawn Hill Gorge, Adel’s Grove and surrounds.
Location: 640 km from Mt. Isa
Eating Options: Harry’s Restaurant
Iconic town in central west queensland on the Thomson river. It is named as Long reach from the “Long reach” of the river Thomson which is also known for hosting spectacular sunset cruises. A town with long history, it is home to Australian stockman’s Hall of Fame which was opened by Queen Elizabeth II. It is also hosts to first Qantas hangar. Check out some of the great things to do at Longreach.
Location: 406 km from Mt. Isa
Where to Stay: Richmond Caravan Park
Eating Options: Moon Rock Cafe
Popularly known as “Overlander’s way town”, Richmond is mainly famous for Dinosaur fossils and world famous Dinosaur museum – Kronosaurus Korner. Apart from giant foot prints, Richmond is also home to man-made lake knowns as Lake Fred Tritton giving visitors and local a refreshing relief from the typical outback climate. The lake allows for swimming, boating, fishing and water sports. The lake is nestled around bush park, kids playground and bbq spots allowing for great family break.
Location: 16 km from Mt. Isa
Where to Stay: Mt. Isa
Eating Options: Free outdoor BBQ available
The supplier of the cities drinking water, Lake Moondarra, is an 11,370 hectare lake with boating, walking trails and wildlife in abundance. Avid birdwatchers will delight in the variety of bird species such as pelicans, ducks and galahs found here. Check out the Wallaby Walk for a scenic stroll or pack a lunch and picnic at any one of the shaded picnic areas some featuring BBQ grills often with supplied wood. Once you get a taste of this scenery of the region, you’ll be glad for your 4WD to explore even more wondrous countryside.
Location: 121km from Mt. Isa
Where to Stay: Gidgee Inn
Eating Options: Gidgee Inn
Known as “The friendly Heart of the Great North West”, Cloncurry like most Northern town are rich with history and museums. One of the popular tourist spot is Mary Kathleen Memorial Park and Museum, which exhibits local history, uranium mine and unique rail ambulance.
On the way to Cloncurry from Mt Isa, is another cooling spot – Fountain Spring Falls. Fountain Spring Falls is a spectacular site that’s inaccessible by many vehicles and 4WDs are recommended. The drive to the falls is breathtaking as you see the quartzite Fountain Range on one side and volcanic Mount Phillip on the other. The falls itself is a deep, cool watering hole with an abundance of wildlife to amaze and delight. This is a great place to start off-roading as there are many side roads to explore. Just be cautious of wash outs and follow standard off-roading precautions.
7. Wee McGregor Mine
Location: 50 km from Mt. Isa
Where to Stay: Mt Isa Verona Hotel
Eating Options:On return head to Buffs Club
This is a hot spot for gemstones and fossicking. You’ll need a 4WD to get there and enjoy the breathtaking views along the way to Wee McGregor Mine. Stop at Ballarra Cemetery and explore a cemetery from the early 1900’s. Once a booming mining town, the last train in Ballarra was in 1927 so this is one of the ‘ghost towns’ in the Mt. Isa area. If you do take this journey look for the infamous Maltese cross along the way.
8. Telstra Hill
Location: 2km from Mt. Isa
Where to Stay: Mt. Isa
Eating Options: RedEarth Restaurant
There’s no better place to get a view of ‘the Isa’, as Mt. Isa is affectionately called by locals, than Telstra Hill. It’s about 2km out of Mt. Isa headed to Cloncurry and you’ll need a 4WD to reach but well worth the trek. Unbelievable views both day and night.
9. Tennant Creek
Location: 660 km from Mt. Isa
Where to Stay: Safari Lodge Motel
Eating Options: Wok’s Up
Tennant Creek is a town that sprung to life during the Gold Rush of the 1930’s. Great place to know more about indigenous culture, mining history and cattle industry.Home to spectacular sunsets, sunrise, orange landscape and plenty of things to do. Dont forget to visit the ranch
10. Julia Creek
Location: 257 km from Mt. Isa
Where to Stay: Julia Creek Motel
Eating Options: BP Julia Creek Roadhouse – grab and go, fuel available, typical roadhouse stop
This town, a major cattle and sheep hub in Australia, began to grow in 1908 when the railway extended here. Found along Overlander’s Way en route to Mt. Isa, this town boasts being home to a rare and endangered marsupial – the Julia Creek Dunnart. You may just get a glimpse of this rare animal at dusk.
While in Julia Creek you’ll want to check out the place where the Royal Flying Doctors began – an organization dedicated to providing superior medical service 24 hours a day to those in Australia. This remarkable service covers a mammoth 7.3 million square kms. After being inspired at the Royal Flying Doctors head to a memorable spot to cool off at the Punchbowl Waterhole on the Flinders River just 45 km north-east of the town.
The Mt. Isa area is full of exhilarating outdoor adventures for the beginner explorer to the most adventurous ones. This top ten list is a glimpse at the many trips awaiting you in this majestic part of Queensland.
Fleetcrew – 4wd Vehicle Hire Specialists.
FleetCrew has been around for more than 25 years and is well-versed in 4WD use in this area with a branch in Mt. Isa.
With experience and expertise to know what 4WD will best suit your specific travel needs, a comprehensive maintenance package (with 24 hour roadside assistance across all of Australia), vehicles adhering to the most stringent safety protocols and unlimited kilometers, FleetCrew is the one of the best 4wd hire choice when traveling the Mt. Isa region.
Once you have your vehicle, it’s time to start exploring this diverse and culturally rich mining town. For more information, please check out our FAQ’s or contact us to enquire about your next 4WD adventure!