Charleville outback town is located 745 km west of Brisbane. It is slightly off the route if you are planning to go to Darwin via Roma, Longreach and Mt Isa. However, if you drive to Northern Territory from Sydney or any place in NSW you can choose Charleville as a place to stay for a few days as it is right on the way.
Surprisingly there are many things to do in Charleville. The town is mostly known for their Bilby Experience and Cosmos Centre. However, over years more Charleville attractions have been added to the list. Let’s see all of them.
We recommend staying a minimum of 3 days in Charleville.
#1 Bilby Experience
Have you seen a marsupial that sleeps on its head? If no, say hello to bilby – the largest member of the bandicoot family that is the last of Australia’s arid bandicoot species.
Bilby like many other Australian animals has been under the greatest threat from the feral animals that were introduced by Europeans like cats, foxes and rabbits. As a result, the bilbies got almost extinct.Thankfully, in 2012, Frank Manthey – ‘The Bilby Man’, a former Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Ranger, established ‘Save the Bilby Fund’. Frank established the first breeding facilities for bilbies and even with a help of many volunteers created a dedicated Currawinya fenced area in the outback so their number can grow in the future.
There is a constant fight with nature and against bilbies predators to keep the number of bilbies growing. The best way to understand The Bilby world is to visit the Bilby Experience and learn the story. This way, we as tourists can help The Bilby program.
The Bilby has existed in Australia for over 15 million years
#2 Cosmos Centre
Visiting Charleville Cosmos Centre is a must as it is the best way to view the sky in the far outback of Australia.
Inside the centre, there is a small exhibition area where you can learn more about our planet Earth and the surrounding Universe.
The centre offers many different tours but the schedule change over time so it is best to visit the Charleville Cosmos Centre website for details. Obviously, the tours are weather-dependent as you need a clear sky.
However, some tours have pre-recorded sessions, so those who were weather-unlucky can still enjoy the presentation.
The ones we can recommend are:
– Big Sky Observatory – evening tour where you can observe various cosmic objects via telescope like Saturn, Naptus, Nebula Clusters or the nearest star.
– Sun Viewing, Our Star – day tour to watch our Sun via a telescope; as you see below you can even take a photo with your mobile phone.
Apart from the tours the centre also offers cosmic movies that are played in the round, big dome.
#3 WWII Secret Base
For many years this place was a big secret. During War World II, in 1943, Americans established in Charleville a secret military base with 3500 United States Army personnel.
WWII Secret Base is an interactive exhibition centre where you can learn about Top Secret information, classified missions, wartime romances or even command your own bombing mission from the inside of a B-17 Bomber.
The best way to understand the history of this place is to go on a tag-along tour where you drive in a small convoy from place to place and learn about the history of the place. After the tour, you can visit the centre to get a full picture of the place.
#4 Charleville Historic House Museum
Charleville Historic House Museum is the place where you can see an enormous collection of past artefacts that depict Charleville’s life in 19s century. We were really surprised to see old writing machines, rotary phones, journals, photographs, sports trophies, maps, blacksmith tools, horse cars and old automobiles.
Also, the rooms are dressed like in old days with old furniture and items.
Indeed, by looking at those artefacts we could see that, at some point, Charleville was boosting with life.
To enter the museum there is a small fee, but I think there is no better place to see how people lived a long time ago.
#5 Dates Farm Tour
What do you know about dates? Apart from the fact we can buy some in Coles, we did not know much, that’s for sure.
The Dates Farm Tour came to us with a surprise as we did not expect dates to grow in the rural outback of Queensland.
It happens it was an idea of Mark Hampel who wanted to fulfil his dream of having a date farm. Luckily for him, he got free reclaimed wastewater from Charleville to irrigate the trees.
As dates tree takes about five to seven years to produce fruits, you can see that this is a long process before the farm can be profitable. But, so far, so good – the dates farm is heading in the right direction.
During the tour, you learn about the history of the farm and be taken along the farm to see the plantation.
In the end, there is a small tasting with the possibility to purchase a small bag of dates.
#6 Corones Hotel
Corones Hotel is located in the heart of Charleville. It is a historic landmark that was built in the 1920s and was a social and economic place for many famous people, aviators and even the royal families.
The hotel was established by Harry Corones, a greek emigrant who arrived in Australia in the early 1900s. The building of the hotel took five years between 1924 and 1929 and cost an astronomical amount for those days of 50,000 pounds.
Since its establishment, the newly built hotel was a central visiting point for everyone who mattered in those days and it was known as an example of hotel architecture and comfort.
The best way to learn about Corones Hotel, and its owner and his family is to come for a 2-hour tour that is run by a local lady. The tour concludes with an alcoholic beverage in the bar.
The hotel and bar are still open to the public and if you like staying in historical buildings you can book a room and soak the Charlevielle atmosphere in the most unique way.
#7 Graham Andrew Parklands
Would you expect green grass, running water and aboriginal art in the middle of the outback? If not, visit Graham Andrew Parklands.
The park is Charleville green oasis for locals and visitors to relax after a long day. There are a few things to check out like Outback Native Walk, Vortex Gun Display, working windmill and playground.
You will also find beautiful, native paintings on the pavements and recently added Aboriginal mural.
The most recent addition is a big chair where you can seat and take a memory photo as we did.
If you have more time you can try playing Disk Golf in the parklands. Don’t worry, if you don’t know how to play disk golf visit the Queensland Disk Golf website.
You can pick up the disks in the Visitor Centre.
#8 Yabby Races
Yabby Races happen every Wednesday between April and September. It is a fun way to spend some time with locals and grab a meal or drink.
During the Yabby Races, you can buy your own yabby or place a bet. Don’t be surprised to wait for the outcome of the race for quite a while – unless you picked a winner!
The good thing is that all the income raised during the races goes to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
#9 Charleville Water Tower Mural
The Water Tower Mural is located a short distance from Wills Street, on Parry Street.
The mural was painted by Guido van Helten in 2019.
It depicts four children intertwined through the sport to highlight the importance of the game for the community of Charleville.
#10 Charleville Weather Station
Charleville Weather Station is located between the Airport and WWII Secret Base.
Every morning at 9.15 am there is an automatic weather balloon released. The balloon sends all the weather data like temperature, wind direction or speed to the weather station. The data is used to forecast the weather.
The balloon release is a very quick event, so make sure to be 5 minutes before time.
#11 Royal Flying Doctor Service Visitor Centre
Australian outback would not exist without a Royal Flying Doctor Service. The service has a long history and since it started operating in 1928 a lot has changed.
Inside the centre, you can see past and present medical kits and radio equipment as well as watch an introductory film about the journey of Doctor Flying Service through to the present day.
#12 Warrego River Walk
The walk starts right in the centre of Charleville. Just go north past the post office on Wills Street, and walk over the bridge. Warrego River Walk starts right after on the left and goes along the Warrego River.
On the way, you see a few information boards as well as some outdoor gym equipment. Warrego River is a peaceful place so there is a chance you may not meet anybody on the way.
It is not a loop, but you can come out on the other side of Charleville next to Adrian Street and walk your way back to the town centre.
Where off to from Charleville?
Charleville is a gateway to the Simpson Desert, and many 4WD enthusiasts consider the town as the last place to buy some groceries or repair their forbies.
Let’s see a few options after you leave Charleville.
Simpson Desert – there is still 840 km to Birdsville or even more to the famous Big Red, but definitely worth considering. On the way, you pass interesting towns like Quilpie or Windorah. If you want to spare a few more kilometres, visit Eromanga Natural History and see the fossil of the biggest living dinosaur.
Augathella – located 84 km north of Charleville is famous for ‘Meat Ant Country‘ and rich historical culture.
Cannamulla – located 200 km south of Charleville known for its Artesian Time Tunnel at the Cunnamulla Fella Centre.
Where to stay in Charleville?
Hotel Corones – located in the heart of town, a historical building with many memories. Book a hotel tour and learn more about the hotel’s history. You can even book the original room where Harry Corones stayed in the past.
The Rocks Motel – located in the town centre. Has an outdoor pool and on-site restaurant with free Wi-Fi and private parking,
Mulga Country Motor Inn – 1.5 km from town inn provides accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a bar.
Charleville Motel – 800 meters from the town centre. Has an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking and a garden.
Charleville Bush Cottage – located 2.6 km from the town. It is a holiday home with garden views.
Things to do in Charleville – Summary
Charleville is a tourist-growing town. Since the last time, we visited Charleville a number of Charleville attractions have been added making the town more attractive to tourists.
The newest addition of the WWII Secret Base was hidden from the public for many years after WWII. These days, however, we are lucky to learn about those interesting historic events.
If you prefer to stay outside of town, we really recommend Red Lizard Camping Ground. This caravan park is located 8 km south of Charleville, but it is very friendly and has big sites. Campfires are allowed.
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4WD Equipment Checklist
Tire Repair Kit – to fix the tire by yourself when you don’t have access to the tire shop (we use Oztrail)
UHF Radio – for communication with your mates and in emergency
Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road
High Lift Jack – useful if you do serious 4WD tracks
Shovel – useful if you get bogged, also good for campfire cooking
Fuel funnel with water filter – additional protection when fueling up in dodgy places