With the September school holidays just over one week away, Townsville Enterprise is encouraging North Queenslanders to Explore Next Door, with a recent campaign aimed at increasing visitor to the regions.
Positioned within a 90-minute drive so some of Australia’s most iconic landscapes of the rainforest, reef and Outback, Townsville North Queensland is the gateway to some of the most unique experiences available, especially for families looking explore beyond their backyard.
In the first of a series of school holiday tips, Townsville Enterprise has pulled together the ultimate road trip to the regions – with the first horse out of the gates heading to historic Charters Towers.
Take a step back in time and discover the enchanting outback town of Charters Towers, just an hour-and-a-half west of Townsville.
Driving through the streets of Charters Towers is like viewing a living montage of Australian history and heritage. When gold was first discovered in Charters Towers in 1871, it became a gold rush town and quickly grew to become the second largest centre in Queensland.
Today, the magnificent heritage buildings are testament to the prosperity of years past. Pan for gold at the Miners Cottage, take in the views from Towers Hill lookout or enjoy a true outback encounter at Texas Longhorn Wagon Tours.
Travel 90km northeast of Charters Towers and you’ll find Ravenswood, an old gold mining settlement set among the rolling hills of the outback. With mullock heaps, tall chimneys, poppet heads and discarded mine machinery, the town is a living tribute to the history of western Queensland.
Explore Charters Towers: Duration – 1-3 Days
Day Trippers: 1 Day
You’re on a tight schedule and only have the day to get out and explore – no problem! Here is our Top 3 Bucket List for Charters Towers.
1. Gold Rush Country
On the outskirts of Charters Towers sits the oldest and largest surviving battery in Queensland – The Venus Gold Battery. Built in 1872, this mill provided gold extraction facilities to miners for over a century. The huge “stampers” pounded away through the day and night extracting the precious gold from quartz up until 1973.
The Venus Gold Battery is of national and cultural significance, and well worth a visit. Guided tours are available throughout the year and suitable for all ages.
One of the highlights is a fascinating film presentation that shows not only the process of extracting gold from ore, but also the story of the Battery’s working life and some of its ghosts.
Tours run daily but times vary depending on the day of the week. Bookings are encouraged and can be made at visitcharterstowers.com.au
2. Look at the size of those horns!
You’ll definitely be saying that a lot if you go on a Texas Longhorn Tour with Charters Towers locals Michael and Lynda Bethel. Situated just 10km from town is Leahton Park, there is nowhere else in Australia that guests can take a canvas covered wagon or open air safari ride while viewing the magnificent Texas Longhorn herd and learn some of the history of this iconic and colourful breed of cattle and the influence they had throughout the world.
But that is not all you get on one of these tours, it includes a traditional smoko and guided walk through the Love Shack, Cattle Yard and Saddle Shop.
Tours run at 9am daily between May and October and bookings are essential as this experience is very popular.
3. Heritage, History and Heart
Charters Towers might be a small country town but she has heart and a whole bag of history to match. Apart from gold, Charters Towers is also well known for its part in World War II with over 15,000 US servicemen being stationed in the town. Bunkers used to store artillery and bombs are still scattered among the hillside of Towers Hill and have recently received a 21st century upgrade with new Augmented Reality technology added.
Park at the bottom of the hill and follow the newly built path up the hill to the bunkers.
Don’t forget to take your phone so you can download the Towers Hill in World War II app to experience the three different AR displays.
Insider tip: Stay the night so you can enjoy Towers Hill even more with the perfect spot for a sunset picnic dinner, cute selfie opportunities with the local rock wallabies and even a movie – Ghosts after Dark.
Weekend Escape: 2 Days
It’s hard to see it all in just one day so stay the night and see what else you can discover
Discover the Ghosts of Gold. If there is one fact about Charters Towers that you need to remember it’s that it was once the largest goldfield in all of Australia. That’s right, this little country town was once full of gold miners looking to strike it rich and many of the buildings and structures still remain to this very day.
To learn more about this rich mining history and the ghosts of Charters Towers past start at the Visitor Information Centre and Stock Exchange Arcade in Mosman Street. From here you can hire the Ghosts of Gold Audio Self Drive Tour which will lead you around the town highlighting important buildings and stories along the way.
There might not be massive nuggets of gold lying around anymore, but you can still take home your very own piece of Charters Towers Gold if you know where to go.
The easiest way is to visit The Miners Cottage, here you can learn how to pan for gold and keep what you find! It’s a great experience for the big and little at heart.
If you want to get a little more adventurous then why not try fossicking at Young’s Block.
Grab a fossicking permit online and head out to try your luck at finding your very own nugget of gold.
The Mighty Burdekin River
Whether you have a fondness for swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, boating or even bird watching, the mighty Burdekin River offers it all. Popular spots on the Burdekin include, the Macrossan Bridge, Dave Chapman Recreational Park, Burdekin Falls Dam or the Burdekin Weir Park.
Grab the family, fishing rods and kayaks and have a great day at the Burdekin!
Explore More: 3 Days
Loving the place so much you can’t leave now – Let’s explore more!
Located 89km east of Charters Towers, the heritage-listed township of Ravenswood was once a thriving gold mining town but today is a little quieter.
A must-see historical town, Ravenswood still has an operational gold mine to this day and you can even view the old open cut pit from a lookout just outside the main town area. Historical displays and buildings are dotted through the streets and make an early afternoon walk quite the interesting history lesson.
If nature is more of your thing than head out to White Blow Environmental Park and take in the huge quartz outcrop.
If you love the quirky and unique then book yourself a room at The Railway Hotel for the night.
Terry and his amazing staff sure know country hospitality with scrumptious meals, cold beers, a Whiskey Bar and even vintage car display. It’s hard to only stay one night!