Dalrymple National Park in Queensland’s tropical north may not be the biggest national park around but it sure packs a mighty scenic and historical punch. Most grey nomads head out there from the vibrant coastal city of Townsville … and it’s a fascinating journey.
The unofficial capital of tropical north Queensland is the start – or the end – of the 1,550km long Overlanders Way which links the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef to the rugged Northern Territory Outback. Dalrymple-bound nomads though will only follow its bitumened course 135 kilometres west as far as Charters Towers.
This historic city really put itself on the map back in 1871 when the discovery of a gold-laden quartz triggered a gold rush. At its peak, the city boasted a fortune-hunting population of 30,000. The city is steeped in history and the architecture and museums are much admired by visitors.
Dalrymple National Park is 42 kilometres north from here along the Gregory Developmental Road (Lynd Highway).
Travellers eventually turn right on to an unsealed track at Fletcher Creek Crossing. This incidentally is a superb free camping area here right on Fletcher Creek and it is suitable for caravans. Managed by the Charters Towers Regional Council, facilities include picnic shelters, tables, toilets, cold showers and wood barbecues. The park entrance itself is a further 2.5 kilometres along. When the weather is dry the track is suitable for all vehicles but may be closed during the wet periods, often between November and March.
The site of the former Dalrymple township, one of the first inland settlements in northern Australia, is located within the park. The gold rush-inspired township withered and died following flooding and the discovery of other goldfields. Visitors however can still see the Leichardt memorial marking the camping place of the European explorer who opened up the area.
Other highlights are the ancient lava flows, fossilised limestone, Mount Keelbottom which rises up 130 metres above the surrounding plain, and the Burdekin itself. The river banks are great spots from which to view the abundant waterbirds and native animals.
Great scenery, great wildlife, great camping and a great drive. This is what it’s all about.