Cloncurry Australia

Discover pioneering history

Cloncurry in Australia is a rural town in the heart of Queensland's north west. It is a lovely place to stay for a few days to explore the history and natural surroundings.

Located on the banks of the Cloncurry river, the town is at the junction of the Flinders & Landsborough highways, about 784 km west of Townsville.
Flinders Highway is also known as the Overlander's Way, a tourist road from Townsville to the Northern Territory, while Landsborough Highway is a part of the famous Matilda route.

Original hangar of the Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Service in CloncurryOriginal Qantas hangar in Cloncurry

Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Service - that was the official name of the air service that became the national Australian airline.

For many years Cloncurry held the fame of being the hottest town in Australia, because of the highest recorded temperature of 53,1°C in 1889.
However, on more recent research about that claim, it turned out there was not a standardised measurement used, and the temperature was perhaps only in the high forties. The highest daily temperature that is now registered is 46,9°C on 1.12.2006.

Still, Cloncurry is a hot place, with temperatures rising above 40°C for about 35 days a years. The annual rainfall is about 500 mm, the heaviest rain is coming down between December and March. It's getting sticky and humid then, but usually not as bad as along the coast. Occasional flooding can make roads impassable.

Some Quick Facts about Cloncurry

  • Population: 2,719 (2016 census)
  • Location: Approx. 1,707 km north-west of Brisbane
  • State: Queensland
  • Post Code: 4824
  • Elevation: 186m
  • Time Zone: Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST)
  • Best time to visit: April to October is the best time to visit when you want to avoid the summer heat.
  • Facilities: Cloncurry has full town facilities, hotels, motels, shops & a hospital.
View over Cloncurry from Rotary LookoutRotary Lookout

You see that the landscape surrounding Cloncurry is not the typical flat Outback scenery. Colourful, rocky hills make a beautiful backdrop.

History of Cloncurry

The first Europeans in the Cloncurry area (1861) were Burke & Wills on their ill-fated expedition to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Burke named the river Cloncurry after his cousin Lady Cloncurry.

Six years later Ernest Henry, on his search for grazing land, discovered copper in the area, the Great Australia Mine was founded. A settlement to service the mine developed which was later proclaimed a town and named after the river.

Qantas & the Royal Flying Doctor Service

Info sign at the airport in Cloncurry tells the story of QantasInfo sign at the airport

On 16 November 1920 Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd were founded. It was a small, local airline which would soon conquer the world.
Although Winton is known as the birthplace of Qantas, operations moved to Longreach soon.
Alexander Kennedy was the first passenger on the first scheduled flight from Charleville to Cloncurry. The original Qantas hangar is still in use at the airport.

Royal Flying Doctor Service Museum in CloncurryMural at John Flynn's Place

John Flynn founded the Australian Aerial Medical Service in Cloncurry on 27 March 1928. Qantas agreed to operate flights on demand for the new service. The first flight left Cloncurry with a four-passenger DH50A on 17 May 1928. Arthur Affleck was the first pilot. 1942 the name was changed to Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Points of interest in Cloncurry Australia

Mary Kathleen Memorial Park

Mary Kathleen Park (Flinders Highway) features

  • old buildings and memorabilia moved from the Mary Kathleen Uranium Mine (Mary Kathleen is now a ghost town about 50 km west of Cloncurry)
  • a comprehensive Rock and Mineral display
  • steam engines, farm and mining machinery

There's a kiosk and Cloncurry's Tourist Information Office.
Open Weekdays from 8am - 4.30pm all around the year. Weekends and Public Holidays 9am - 4:00pm (May to October) and 9am - 2pm from November to April.

Old machinery at Mary Kathleen Memorial ParkMary Kathleen Memorial Park

John Flynn Place

The museum in Daintree Street is a tribute to the man whose vision was to put a mantle of safety over the Australian Outback. John Flynn's life work has been a victory over the tyranny of distance in Australia's vast inland.
See equipment of the early days, including a scale model of the first RFDS aircraft. The DH 50 had the fitting name "Victory".

Included in the complex is the Fred McKay Art Gallery, Alfred Traeger Cultural Centre, Allan Vickers Outdoor Theatre, and Cloncurry Gardens.

Open from 9.00am to 4.00pm Monday to Friday all year round. Open from 9.00am to 3.00pm weekends from May to the end of September, closed during the weekends in summer. There is a Christmas closure from mid-December to mid-January.

This is a must see place in Cloncurry, in my humble opinion.

John Flynn place includes the RFDS museum, an cultural centre and art galleryInfo sign at John Flynn Place

Original Qantas Hangar

Visit the airport (Sir Hudson Fysh Drive) and the original hangar (pictured on top of this page), where one of the oldest international airlines in the world started their service.

Other interesting things to see

Rotary lookout

Enjoy stunning views over Cloncurry and the rugged hills in the area from the lookout about 2 km west of town near the Normanton turnoff.

Historic Buildings

Historic hotels and buildings include the Central Hotel, Post Office Hotel, the courthouse, and many more. Take a stroll around the town, it is worthwhile.

Central Hotel with huge XXXX banners on the balconyHistoric Central Hotel

Chinaman Creek Dam

The dam about 3 km west of Cloncurry is a popular recreation area. Go for a swim, enjoy nature walks and bird life. Don't forget the camera and your swimsuit. The colours of Mount Leviathan, especially in the soft afternoon light, are amazing.Locally known as "black mountain", the colours vary from orange to dark red and brown.
There are picnic facilities, however, overnight camping is not permitted.

Colourful hill is mirroring in the water of Chinaman Creek DamMount Leviathan at Chinaman Creek Dam

Accommodation in Cloncurry

The town offers a good range of accommodation. Visitors can choose from a bed in old-fashioned hotels, modern motel rooms and cabins at the caravan parks.

Check this page for more info about facilities.

Read more about the destinations along the Matilda Way

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