Road Trip to the Isa

You possibly say g’day mate on the daily, reference The Castle in a convo and wait for your mates to tout one back whilst you all proudly listen to Triple J. Maybe you subtly name drop that time you’ve seen Thor in Byron Bay. Not to mention the Gold Coast is your weekend escape and your hikes are through conveniently mapped and pathed national parks, so much so you can proudly say you’ve seen the best parts of Queensland. But there’s one part of Queensland that not many people talk about, which unlike the above, rings closer to what you know Australia is famous for, is the land down under, the actual outback, littered with kangaroos, cattle and cowboys, where grassy greens are traded for prickly spinifex and distant water is later realised to be just an inferior mirage from the dry desert heat, sound fun?

Well if you point your google maps towards North-West Queensland, burrowed among the Selwyn Ranges and the banks of the Leichhardt River there’s a small town called Mount Isa which is affectionately known as the ‘oasis of the outback’. Mount Isa is the town where you’ll quickly appreciate downing an ice-cold beer and at the end of the day and indulging in the best steak sourced locally from the stations. This town is far different to what Thor feels on the coast with a mine at the town’s fringe.  So why should you visit this small town in the middle of nowhere?  Well, it’s home to the world’s third largest rodeo which occurs annually in August, and this year happens to be the 60th anniversary!

Mount Isa

Photographed by Tane Cadman

The Rodeo has been around since 1959 and is sure to give you the true Aussie experience you can’t get anywhere else;

‘It’s where the romance of the Australian Outback meets the grit of a mining town, east meets west and man meets beast’ Isa Rodeo 2018.

All the famous Australian icons will be there from Nolesy (Shannon Noll) to Barnsey (Jimmy Barnes) and many more. You’ll be able to get up close in the action including; ‘saddle bronc, bareback bronc, bull riding, rope & tie, steer wrestling, team roping, ladies barrel racing, ladies breakaway roping’ Isa Rodeo 2018.

Rodeo

Photographed by Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo

*TIP Be sure to book your accommodation ASAP, as this time of year hotels fill up fast!

Right, so you’re ready to leave the coast and head to the outback, you’ve got your RM Williams boots and cowboy hat ready! It’s going to be a long but exciting trip to get there.

There are three ways to travel and we’ve got all the best tourist spots to keep your journey memorable.

Drive

Photographed by Tane Cadman

Brisbane to Mount Isa (Flying)

The quickest way to get to the Isa is flying, the two-and-a-half-hour flight which will set you back about $600 return, exy I know but, they do have specials.

*Tip Subscribe to Virgin Blue Happy Hour email alerts

Google Maps

Google Maps

But why not hit the road and experience the true blue, fair dinkum Aussie way to go bush? You don’t need to be an expert off-roader to explore the legendary Queensland Outback and get a taste for life on the land.

Driving Brisbane to Mount Isa (Inland)

Say goodbye to the dairy cows, grassy pastures and ocean air and tip your hat towards dry desert heat and craploads of kangaroos who will happily flex their pecs at you on the road, make you stop, and slowly hop off like they won ‘that one’. You’ll also learn to appreciate a quality roadhouse steak burger, as franchises fade away when you cruise inland through Toowoomba, Roma and Longreach.

*Tip Be careful driving at night though as there are a lot of kangaroos, emu’s and they will do more damage to your car then you will to them, trust they will hop out of nowhere and in front of you.

Furthermore, it’s important to take lots of pit stops and fuel up, snacks and drinks during your trip, we recommend stretching your legs at Roma (478km) and experience the Roma Saleyard Australians largest cattle selling centre. Tours of the Saleyard are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the raised walkways give you an excellent vantage point to catch the excitement of cattle sales.

Next stop Tambo (900km) Teddy Bear shop perfect for a quick cuddle and a collector’s item. Then onto Longreach (1200km) where you can check out the Australian Stockmans Musem and if you plan it right, attend The Stockman show which celebrates the stockman’s skills and horsemanship.

From Longreach it’s a long hall as it’s 6hrs drive to Mount Isa, we recommend stretching your legs at Cloncurry Rotary Lookout and soak up that country air if you have time to spare you can drive out the Ernest Mine, it’s a site worth seeing. Then you’re only one hour left to your destination Mount Isa.

Desert Sunset

Photographed by Tane Cadman

Driving from Brisbane to Mount Isa (along the coast) 

This drive via Townsville is longer – 2300km – but has the beautiful Queensland coast and way more attractions to see. First, stop Hervey Bay (283km) stay the night and explore Fraser island with shipwrecks and stunning beaches, this place will leave you in awe and wanting to move here permanently.

Next stop Bundaberg the birthplace of Bundaberg rum visit the Bundaberg Distillery (110km) and learn about how this famous rum has become such an Australian icon. Then on to Rockhampton, you can take a nightcap here as there is plenty of accommodation to choose from, plus you can explore the Capricorn Caves (288km) this is a must-see.

Next, stop the famous Airlie Beach (481km) soak up the sun, visit the Airlee beach lagoon grab a bite to eat. Then onto Townsville (275km) where there is plenty of fun to be had, book a hotel and enjoy the various amounts of restaurants, shopping and the Reef HQ.

Then inland to Mount Isa (904km) make sure you’re well rested, fuelled up and got lots of snacks as this is going to be a long drive. If you get there early make sure to book a tour down a mine shaft at Hard Time Mines, you’ll learn first-hand what it takes to be a miner and what life is like underground.

Hard Mine Times

Photographed by Tane Cadman

As we mentioned earlier Mount Isa has some of the best steaks in Queensland, be sure to book yourself a table at the Isa Hotel and try their Wagyu steak it won’t disappoint! If that’s not up your alley check out The Ovi, Mount Isa’s favourite pub known for the affordable-yummiest crumb steak in town. If that’s not your thing, grab a picnic basket and head down to Lake Moondarra and grab a selfie with the peacocks.

Lake Moondarra

Photographed by Tane Cadman

*Tip Make sure to get a selfie at the famous crossroads and check out the view on Telstra hill.

Then onto the Mount Isa Rodeo, were your days and nights will be filled with outback entertainment, country folk and good food and beverages.

Isa Rodeo Kids

Photographed by Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo

By the end of this trip, your Instagram will be flooded with some of the most unique photos of Queensland and you’ll have hundreds of stories to tell your friends and family for years to come.

Just remember that Queensland’s Outback is connected by both sealed roads and dirt tracks. Before you head off, don’t forget to brush up on the road rules, grab a first aid kit for the car to ensure a safe and successful road trip and most importantly have fun!

I would like to thank my Fiancé and his family for sharing their experiences of Mount Isa with me, to create this wonderful post that I can share with you.

Published at Study Anywhere

Let us know in the comments, about your Outback adventure!

11 thoughts on “Road Trip to the Isa

  1. Can confirm Ovi is the greatest 👌🏽 I moved to Brisbane from Mount Isa 8 years ago, rodeo is probably the only time of year I would go back there, best part of living there was that time of year 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In my short time living in mt isa was great, made life long friends! The town is small but has everything there! Id say if you want to visit only visit during the rodeo so there’s something fun and exciting to do! ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow just had flashbacks of my childhood road trips. Especially my Tambo teddy.
    Great blog on Mt Isa, makes me want to pack my bags and head deep into Australia.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. absolutely fabulous, got me so intrigued and excited , I want to go …where’s the booking agent lol 🙂
    awesome see you all there for a fair dinkum country aussie experience

    Liked by 1 person

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