It’s 900km from Mount Isa to Townsville, a west-to-east stretch across northern Queensland along the Barkly and Flinders Highways. The roads are mostly long and straight (once you’ve passed the Selwyn Ranges between Isa and Cloncurry, photos of which can be found here). The photo below was taken on some lonely stretch between Julia Creek and Richmond.
Hughenden is the biggest town between Cloncurry and Charters Towers and roughly the half way mark of my journey. The rich Flinders grass in the region makes it an important pastoral centre.
Prairie is a tiny settlement 50km east of Hughenden, complete with a ghostly railway station now moved away from the track, a pub where you can tie your horse out the front and a racecourse that has an annual meet. The town gets its name from its prairie-like setting.
Half way between Hughenden and Charters Towers is the beautiful sandstone formations of White Mountains National Park. The Park is a rugged area of 108,000ha with some of the most diverse botany in Queensland. It also marks where the Great Dividing Range crosses the highway.
Charters Towers was the archetypal Australian wild west town founded on the wealth of gold and its stock exchange was so self confident it was known as The World. There are many beautiful buildings from its 19th century heyday including the Australian Bank of Commerce built in 1891.
I was pleased to arrive in Townsville some 10 hours after leaving Mount Isa. Once I was settled in to my accommodation. I went in search of food and drink and stopped to check out the view of Castle Hill which dominates the town. I was determined to walk up to the top. But that was a story for another day.