Townsville to Charters Towers – 24 Hours of Family Fun

There’s something special about Outback Australia. Whether it’s the vast spaces, the distance between towns, the people (cause they all still seem to have plenty of time for a chat) or just the landscape – whatever it is EVERY family needs to get some of it into their psyche. The good news is there’s a little town that lies only an hour and a half drive from Queensland’s coastline that should be on every family’s itinerary if they visit the Far North……

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

View of Charters Towers from Towers Hill

Short Drive – Townsville to Charters Towers

Charters Towers, ‘Australia’s most authentic country town’ (as the locals like to call it), is just close enough to a major city (Townsville) to make driving into ‘Outback Queensland’ feasible for any family.

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

Charters Towers – easily the most accessible ‘Outback town’

I know that living in Cairns, Queensland my kids have not been used to travelling the distances I did when I was a child (it was nothing for my family to jump in a car and travel 3-hours just to enjoy a ‘day-out’). The good news is that the drive to Charters Towers is an easy ‘day trip’ from Townsville, taking all of 1½ hours in a car.

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

An easy drive, even with kids onboard

The other bonus is that the landscape is still fairly interesting – the drive ‘outback’ from Townsville to Charters Towers is scattered with ranges, hills, rocky outcrops, road trains and the impressive Burdekin River. All of this makes it easier to turn the technology off and get them to look out the window for a change.

Historic Stories

I know a lot of outback towns in Queensland have a swag of stories and history attached to them BUT in Charters Towers you can ‘physically’ see the town’s pioneering roots. The main street has a bunch of historic buildings that epitomise the gold mining era (when the population reached its peak) and you almost expect a horse and cart to make its way past you on the streets.

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

Historical buildings are everywhere in Charters Towers

There’s plenty of museums, walking tours and even a self-driving tour to choose from BUT if kids are involved you won’t want to miss out on the Miners Cottage where you can ‘pan’ for your own gold.

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

Panning for gold was one of the kids highlights

Owner Allan is a real character and somehow manages to help kids find enough gold via their panning efforts so that they can earn ‘miners rights’ plus a small sample of ‘nuggets’ to take home.

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

Official gold diggers at the Miners Cottage

My kids also enjoyed the Zara Clark Museum thanks to a few of the interactive displays that the volunteers demonstrated to us. Skippy was a personal favourite for my daughter Charlie and the sling shot money transporter had Josh wanting to know how he could devise one in our own house (from TV room to kitchen for food of course 😉 ).

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

Classic working toys at the Mary Kay museum

Dads (particularly the engineering type), will love the Venus Gold Battery that has a guided talk (and holograms) attached to the tour that takes you from the miners ‘dirt’ loads right through to the making of gold bullions and finally to the tailings. There’s even talk of getting a few parts of the Battery up and working again.

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

The Venus Gold Battery pumped through a ‘load’ of gold in its hey day

Ghosts

Imagine walking the streets at night, entering historic buildings and listening to stories about ghosts from a bygone era. Unfortunately not all of our family felt comfortable about joining in on a ‘real-life’ ghost tour so we had to give this one a miss. Click HERE if it interests you > Ghosts of Gold.

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

In these here buildings lurk ghosts of the past…..

Alternatively, every night at dusk Towers Hill (Charters Towers lookout) holds its very own ‘Ghosts after Dark’ in their open air theatre, so whilst the kids are enjoying the view of the ‘city’ lights you can soak up the stories of the past.

An Authentic Drive-In

The kids decided on the less scary night-time option so we headed to the Tors Drive-in to relive some of my own memories of growing up in a country town.

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

Tors Drive-in
Image by Charters Towers Tourism

Although we didn’t have a ‘ute’ to throw the kids, mattresses and blankets into, our camp chairs and sleeping bags seem to do the job and the kids loved the feel of this ‘outdoor’ cinema.

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

Kids enjoyed watching a movie in this BIG outdoor theatre

There’s only a few drive-ins left in Australia so its definitely worth it if you’re staying a few nights in Charters Towers.

A Cattle Station with a ‘twist’

In the case of Leahton Park, this cattle station’s ‘twist’ is in the beastie’s horns.

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

Driving through the impressive gates of Leahton Park

They run the very popular Texas Longhorn Wagon tours and the the main attraction is that you really don’t get to see this breed of cattle wandering the Aussie landscape (and in one case a Guinness World Record winner).

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

This is one ‘horny’ cow!!

The wagon tours allow you to cruise the property in a horse drawn cart, experience a damper tea and check out those record breaking horns on the infamous longhorn herd. We opted for the shorter tour (Longhorn Safari) which allowed us to hop out and photograph and in some cases, pet the animals.

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

The cattle aren’t shy on the Texas Longhorn Safari

On our tour we got to see lots of cows that just didn’t seem to belong in the Aussie Outback – American Bison, African Watusi, Texas Longhorns, Scottish Highland Cattle, and Asian Water Buffalo to name a few.

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

Unusual to see these cattle on an Aussie station

You could tell the herd was well loved, tour guide and owner Mick seemed to know each animal by name, along with their traits and stories.

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

Josh trying to beat the length of JR’s horns (a Guinness World Record Holder)

We also got a sample of good ol’ outback hospitality in the form of some home cooked slices and bush tea plus a glimpse of the workmanship that has made Leighton Park not only famous for its cattle but famous for its saddlery and leathermanship.

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

Josh protecting the morning tea goodies

Stay, Eat & Play

There’s plenty of accommodation to choose from in Charters Towers and its particularly suited to the nomads that travel north during the Australian winter period.

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

Our cosy site at the Charters Tower Tourist Park

We stayed at the Charters Towers Tourist Park which was under new management and although small and cosy and orientated towards an older crowd, they had a fantastic fire-pit for evening activities, a bush poet on the night and a huge oval nearby if the kids need to run around and ‘kick a ball’.

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

The Tourist Park hosts some BIG nights & events during the winter months

Food wise we were lucky enough to stumble across a top little bakery in town that was serving the yummiest home-made pies and sausage rolls. My ‘Ned Kelly’ was to die for – meat, bacon and an egg and I would have happily ordered a crate of them for our journey onwards.

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

Loved my Ned Kelly pie from the local Perry’s Bakery

If you’ve got some extra time on your hands consider visiting the country Barbers shop on the main street. No appointments are necessary and if your game you can see if they’ll do a ‘cut-throat’ shave for you whilst you ‘relax’ in their old-style barber chairs.

Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

Old Style shoppes & service are everywhere in Charters Towers

Good Things to Know:

  • If your driving from Cairns try the inland ‘outback’ route – the Great Inland Way. It will take around 7-hours but is a scenic alternative to the coastal route (which takes around 6-hours) – you’ll travel through Ravenshoe, Innot Hot Springs and Lynd Junction.
  • The Charters Tower Tourist Info Centre should be your first point of call. These guys have a wealth of knowledge and have a short film you can watch to get you up to speed with the history of the area. For a good summary of places of interest in Charters Towers click HERE.
  • According to the locals, Charters Towers is one of the most haunted towns in Australia, so a ghost discovery tour should be on your ‘to do’ list. The easiest of these is the Towers Hill ‘Ghost after Dark’ screening but just remember to book prior.
Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

“Stick ’em up!” – Josh trying to get hold of the goods

  • Don’t miss checking out the ‘Horns ‘n Hides’ gift shop at Bethel Saddlery (Texas Longhorn Wagon Tours) – there’s plenty of unique ‘outback’ souvenirs here that are hand crafted and great quality workmanship.
  • If you love historic buildings it may be worth your while travelling to Ravenswood, a quaint little town just 88km north-east of Charters Towers (a slight detour south on the road to Townsville). Is another former mining town that enjoyed a boom back in the 1800’s, now it boasts a population of around 200.
  • Seasonal conditions may mean that some of the tours might not be operating – check prior to your visit.
Townsville to Charters Towers - 24 Hours of Family Fun

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Have you done the drive from Townsville to Charters Towers? Any other favourites that you would recommend to families or travellers to the region?

 
  • Rubby

    These pictures will make anyone wanna pack their bags and leave for the city. But if you want some more dose of entertainment, you can check-in at The Ville Resort and experience live entertainment that includes concerts, free music and more. I have been to this place twice and it was such a great experience. For more information, you can visit http://www.the-ville.com.au/

    • Thanks Rubby for sharing. Glad you love Townsville & the Far North – it’s a great place 😀