All the major settlements along the 1000km stretch between Townsville and the Northern Territory border are mining towns, spaced so far apart that precise names are redundant: Mount Isa becomes “the Isa”, Cloncurry “the Curry”, and Charters Towers “the Towers”. It’s a shame that most people see this vast area as something to be crossed as quickly as possible – even if time is limited, Charters Towers’ century-old feel and Mount Isa’s strange setting are worth a stopover. With the freedom of your own vehicle you can explore the scenic Porcupine Gorge National Park, which is a great place to swim, and the spectacular oasis of Lawn Hill Gorge.

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