Known as ‘The Curry’, Cloncurry is just under 1.5 hours drive from Mount Isa. It is affectionately called the Friendly Heart of the Great North West, and in 2017, celebrated its 150th anniversary. Few places can claim to be as influential in shaping Australia, as Cloncurry. It is the birthplace of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the destination of the first Qantas flight.
Survivor Australia fans may have picked up that the 2021 TV series was filmed across multiple Outback Queensland locations, but primarily on two cattle stations in Cloncurry for most of the camps challenges and Tribal Council.
What I found in Cloncurry, is a community that celebrates outback life, the true Australian way. It is easy to see why they are the ‘friendly heart’. What I also found, is plenty to do in this small but vibrant outback town. Here are my top six things to experience in ‘The Curry’.
Chinaman Creek Dam
Chinaman Creek Dam is perfect for a spot of fishing, to do some bird watching, take a dip or enjoy sunset views that bring the beauty of this land to light. The landscape surrounding the dam is quite distinctive with its red craggy rock formations and red termite hills poking up from the surrounding low hills. Make a day of it as there are a number of free barbecue and picnic facilities for you to make use of while there.
John Flynn Place Museum and Art Gallery
The town of Cloncurry was put on the map being the birthplace of the Royal Flying Doctor’s Service. The John Flynn Place Museum and Art Gallery celebrates an era when aviation and radio united the Outback, and the Royal Flying Doctors Service provided a welcome health service for its residents. Learn about Arthur Affleck, the first flying doctor pilot, and his story about how he hired a single-engine timber and material plane from Qantas for the first Royal Doctors flight.
Cloncurry Unearthed Museum
At the Cloncurry Unearthed Museum, you will find an array of treasures from an extensive gem and mineral collection, information about fossickers licences and maps and a very famous water bottle. Early pioneers Burke & Wills passed Cloncurry on their ill-fated expedition and on that journey, Burke left behind his water bottle. It was moved from its final resting place out bush and now sits in the museum along with stories about their explorations.
Gidgee Inn Motel
Have a motel stay with a difference. The Gidgee Inn has something a little bit unique, with its rammed earth walls, you will be tempted to touch the walls just to feel the texture. Built in 1997, the rammed earth uses Cloncurry’s rich red soils, giving a sense that you are staying underground. This Australian styled 4-star motel also features a bar & grill, making it a great stop in this regional hub
The Wagon Wheel Motel
The Wagon Wheel Motel serves up a hearty outback meal with a side of historic memorabilia from the town. Just make sure you order early as this place is a popular stop for hungry travellers and locals alike and the wait time for dinner might have you drinking a few too many beers before eating.
Red Door Cafe
If you are looking for a good coffee, head to the Red Door Cafe, a community initiative café that acts as a training facility for young and unemployed locals, addressing social, employment and learning barriers.
For more on Cloncurry, visit outbackqueensland.com.au/town/cloncurry
Disclosure: The writer explored Cloncurry with assistance from Tourism Events Queensland