The genuine Outback is closer to the coast in the North Queensland region than just about anywhere else in Australia.
There are miles of lazy, undulating bush and scrub country, the same unique landscapes captured on many canvases,
painted by artists who love the colours, shapes and shadings of the Aussie bush.
However the Outback isn't just the landscape. It's also the unique early dwellings and towns and the special types of Australians who live in them.
Charters Towers - 130 km west of Townsville - boasts one of the State's most colourful histories. The discovery of gold over a century ago attracted over 30,000 people to what was then one of the richest regions in the country. The enormous gold reserves prompted the building of Australia's first regional stock exchange. This magnificent heritage building has been fully restored in recent years.
Grand hotels, banks and public buildings of that era are still in use today affording the visitor a glimpse of what life must have been like back in those boom times.
Mining continues to be an important part of Charters Towers life but the rich seams have long been worked out and the remaining gold can only be reached by modern mechanised methods.
Charters Towers is a city surrounded by the huge Dalrymple Shire. This is cattle country, however, there is renewed interest in mining and tourism. Visitors can stay on working cattle properties enjoying the experience and friendships of Outback hospitality. In town, there is a variety of accommodation from hotels to backpackers hostels.
In its "hey day" during the gold rush boom, the town maintained a population three times that of
the present. The itinerant prospectors discovered gold in 1871, and until 1911, some seven million ounces of gold were extracted from the region.
Today Charters Towers retains many outstanding examples of this early Victorian and Edwardian architecture. A visit to the town is like a step back in time to the booming gold rush era with swinging saloon doors, bullnose verandahs, and iron lacework. Charters Towers is the main centre of National Trust assets in Queensland, including the restored Venus Gold Battery and the former Stock Exchange.
The Charters Towers Stock Exchange once had a major impact on the national and international financial world. This building once operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week with three calls per day. Take a step back in time and discover the rich and colourful history of Charters Towers.
Just 123 kilometres south-west of Townsville lies the historic town of Ravenswood.
Once featuring more than 50 hotels in the booming gold rush days of the turn of the century, Ravenswood is today classified
as a heritage town through the National Trust of Queensland. The Ravenswood Restoration and Preservation Society actively works
to coordinate the preservation of the array of historic buildings.
For the visitor, the town is a short 90 minute drive from Townsville, and offers a fascinating insight into the history and heritage of the gold rush era, and a wonderful "old world" holiday experience.
Accommodation is available in the magnificently restored historic pubs, such as the impressive Imperial Hotel. Built in 1902, this hotel today has been restored complete with swinging saloon doors, a red cedar hand carved bar in the shape of a horseshoe, beautiful leadlighting in a dividing panel, a magnificent dining room and an imposing winding staircase leading to the accommodation quarters.