Situated on the crossroads of the Great Inland Way and the Overlander’s Way (Flinders Highway) about five hours drive south from the Atherton region and 90minutes inland from Townsville, Charters Towers, or ‘The World’ as it’s affectionately known, is a scenic gold mining city that’s alive with history and character - a whole different world where you can see the outback, feel the history and live Australia’s story.
From a chance discovery of gold in 1872 by a young Aboriginal horse boy, Jupiter Mosman, Charters Towers soon turned into a bustling metropolis which, in its heyday, was Queensland’s second largest city.
At the height of the gold rush the city included 11 crushing mills, 65 hotels and one of the very first regional Stock Exchanges in Australia, which still stands proudly at the intersection of Gill and Mosman Streets. With a population now of around 9,000 in the town and 3,000 in surrounding areas, you’ll find the services, facilities and shopping here that you will want after a hard day’s drive.
Today life here is a little less hectic, with visitors able to explore the rich heritage of Charters Towers at their own pace. Your first stop should be the Visitor Information Centre, staffed with local volunteers who are more than happy to point you towards the many man-made historical structures, stunning examples of very special architecture beautifully preserved from the wealthy days of the gold rush and the natural attractions that abound in the area. They’ll also assist you with your accommodation choices from classic private hotels to award-winning caravan parks and bush camps.
This probably is Australia’s most authentic country town at the gateway to the Queensland Outback and it’s waiting for you to discover the stories and people who played a significant role in shaping the region it is today.
A leisurely guided walking tour, self-drive audio tour or a bird’s eye view from the air in a glider or helicopter will reveal the authentic, historical and raw natural beauty of the Charters Towers region.
For something completely different, visit the largest herd of Texas Longhorns in Australia at Leahton Park on the outskirts of town, where you’ll enjoy a special wagon tour and traditional chuck-wagon smoko. There is also a designated fossicking area to try your luck fossicking for gold!
Although mining continues to be an important part of life in the region and the old fashioned crushers have long laid silent, links to the glory days of mining life can still be explored at the Venus Gold Battery, The Miner’s Cottage, Zara Clark Museum, Towers Hill and the Stock Exchange Arcade. Guided bus and virtual reality walking tours will take you to places most people will miss and the night-time guided ghost tour will take you to corners that some say characters of the past still frequent! Tour schedules change through the seasons but the information centre will be your best source of reference for tour times.
But not all of Charters Towers’ past is about gold. Towers Hill plays testament to the fact it was a significant allied military base in World War II with some 30 concrete bunkers dotted throughout the surrounding hills still visible. The City Hall World War II photographic display and the collection of military memorabilia at the Zara Clark Museum are a must. En route to the Burdekin Weir, stop at the Bore Sight Range and see where bomber aircraft were taken to test fire their guns for accuracy. ANZAC Centenary Digital Heritage Trail and the Boer War Memorial in Lissner Park further cement Charters Towers’ significance in Australia’s military history.
The region is a caravanners and campers haven offering eleven caravan parks ranging from award-winning facilities with swimming pools and all the comforts, to classic Aussie bush camps right beside the river operating year around.
These are complemented by officially designated free camps with basic facilities as well as plenty of rest areas for those who really want to experience the delight of sleeping directly under the big Australian outback starry night skies.
Find out more: www.visitcharterstowers.com.au