Further on up the highway, 115km past Bowen, are the towns of Home Hill and Ayr, separated by a mill, a few kilometres of cane fields and the iron framework of the Burdekin River Bridge. This gaping river, one of the north’s most famous landmarks, is still liable to flood during severe wet seasons, despite having to fight its way across three weirs and a dam.

On the northern side, AYR is a compact farming town that’s fast becoming another popular stop on the farm work trail. The highway – which runs through town as Queen Street – is where you’ll find the bus stop and all essential services.

The Yongala

Ayr’s other attraction is easy access to the wreck of the Yongala, a 109m-long passenger ship that sank with all hands during a cyclone in March 1911. It now lies intact and encrusted in coral in 14–28m of water, and is home to turtles, rays, moray eels and huge schools of barracuda, mackerel and trevally, making for a staggeringly good wreck dive. Yongala Dive run trips for certified divers only.

Be aware that the wreck is in an exposed location, and it’s not much fun diving here if the weather is rough; this is also a demanding site – deep, with strong currents and startlingly big fish – and it’s best not to go unless you’ve dived recently and logged twenty dives or more.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Australia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

A Rough Guide to: visiting Australia's Great Barrier Reef

A Rough Guide to: visiting Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s greatest natural wonders – it’s the largest structure ever built by living things and is even visib…

25 Oct 2017 • Penny Walker insert_drive_file Article
The best aerial views in the world

The best aerial views in the world

Got a head for heights? If you're craving a new perspective on your travels, the best thing to do is get up high. From mountain-top panoramas to cityscapes, her…

17 Oct 2017 • Olivia Rawes camera_alt Gallery
Undiscovered Australia: 7 places to get off the tourist trail

Undiscovered Australia: 7 places to get off the tourist trail

Australia is a vast country, though most visitors stay on the same tried and tested track, ticking off well-touristed pitstops along the way. But, of course, …

07 Aug 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook