Cloncurry – home of Survivor Brains vs Brawn



To fans of the Survivor juggernaut, the words ‘Outwit, Outplay and Outlast’ are the mantra. The new series of Australian Survivor aired on Sunday 18 July 2021. It is the sixth series of the show and is the first to be filmed in Australia. Well, you know, COVID and all that. So, the series has a very different look to the Pacific island setting fans are used to. Forget the aquamarine blue of the water and the green of the palm trees. This show is all about the red of the Australian outback.

So where is it filmed? It was set at an outback station in Cloncurry, Outback Queensland. Think stinking hot during the day and freezing cold at night, with slithering reptile friends popping in for regular visits.

‘The Curry’, as locals call it, is a lot more than red dirt and snake habitat. In fact it has quite a lot going for it. And as Cloncurry will be on our screens for some time, here is everything you need to know about this friendly, Queensland town.

Fun facts about Cloncurry

Queensland, Cloncurry, Australian Survivor, Outback Queensland

Overlanders Way. Pic by Tourism and Events Queensland

Cloncurry is built 200 m above sea level and is surrounded by a series of hills, spectacular rocky outcrops and a rich river flowing by.

Cloncurry is 120km east of Mount Isa and 400km south of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

With summer temperatures in the 40s and winter days hovering the mid-20s, the town is hot. It is appropriately dubbed “The Curry”.

Burke & Wills passed nearby on their fatal expedition in 1861 – Burke’s water bottle can be found in the Cloncurry Museum. Meanwhile, a memorial to the explorers can be seen 43km west of town on the bank of the Corella River.

In 1867, Earnest Henry discovered copper and set up camp paving a way for the copper and gold industry that still exists today.

In the late 1800s, Cloncurry was Queensland’s largest ‘Ghan town’ with more than 2000 camels for transport

On November 3, 1922, Qantas flew its first passenger (Alexander Kennedy) from Longreach to Cloncurry (landing in the very first Qantas hangar) and sparking a fun outback feud over which town can claim the globally recognized brand.

The first flight of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia place took place on May 15, 1928,

In 2006, acclaimed Waanyi Woman, Alexis Wright, was awarded the Miles Franklin prize for her novel Carpentaria. She was born in Cloncurry in 1950 and wrote a fierce epic that honours Indigenous culture and the impacts of colonisation.

Dame Mary Gilmore OBE, who is featured on the ten-dollar note, rests in the Cloncurry cemetery.

Things to do in Cloncurry

Follow in the footsteps of Crocodile Dundee by having a beer at Crocodile Dundee’s Walkabout Creek Hotel. It is in the neighbouring town of McKinlay and was the backdrop for the famous bar brawl scene from the blockbuster movie. Aside from its real meets rustic and rather kitsch setting, it’s also a good place for a counter lunch and a comfy overnight stay.

Queensland, Cloncurry, Australian Survivor, Network 10,Jonatho Lapaglia

Crocodile Dundee’s Walkabout Creek Hotel. Pic by Tourism and Events Queensland

Go underground at the Old Mary Kathleen Mine. Explore this open-cut uranium mine on a four-hour tour with North West Tours. Once a bustling home to almost 1000 residents, today Mary Kathleen is a spooky ghost town.

Queensland, Australian Survivor, Network 10, Cloncurry

Mary Kathleen Mine. Pic courtesy Tourism and Events Queensland

Make a beeline for John Flynn Place, a tiny museum that celebrates an era when aviation and radio united the Outback, and the Royal Flying Doctors Service provided a welcome health service for its residents. Here you’ll learn how Arthur Affleck, the first flying doctor pilot, hired a single-engine timber and material plane from Qantas for the very first Royal Doctors flight.  Aviation lovers should also keep their eyes peeled for the original Qantas hangar which welcomed the first Qantas passenger plane 100 years ago. And it is still operational.

Cloncurry, Queensland, John Flynn Place, Australian Survivor

John Flynn Place, Cloncurry. Pic by Tourism and Events Queensland

Fish, boat, or just chill at Chinaman Creek Dam. Located 3km west of Cloncurry, the surprisingly pretty waterhole is the focal point for Survivor water challenges. For travellers, it’s the best point to cast off for Sooty Grunter, Barramundi, Red Claw and Yabbies and to take in sunset views of the township and the Cloncurry River. The dam was built in 1994 to take advantage of water flowing from Chinaman Creek and the Cloncurry River.

Got a 4WD? Then take the 23 km Ballara Mining Heritage Trail and track the remarkable natural beauty of the land. The start of the trail is on the south side of the Overlanders Way, about 60km from Cloncurry. The trail journeys through spinifex landscapes and rocky outcrops millions of years in the making and travels past the site of three former townships that are remnants of a boom-and-bust story of the mining industry. The reward at the end of the trail is a dip in Fountain Springs. Movie buffs will recognise this naturally fed waterhole as the location where Sue Charlton, Croc Dundee’s love interest, was almost taken by a giant saltie.

Check out the beautiful mural on the water tower in Cloncurry. It was painted by Joel Fergie, and features a large Mitakoodi Tribe dreaming bird and two local children holding a paper plane with the Royal Flight Doctor Service logo, as a nod to the history of the service being founded in the region.

Cloncurry, Australian Survivor

The Water Tank Mural by Joel Fergie. Image courtesy Tourism and Events Queensland, Anne Hartung Photography.


Proof that not every alliance leads to survival, early pioneers Burke & Wills passed through Cloncurry on their ill-fated expedition before perishing in the Australian bush. Today Burke’s prized water bottle can be seen at the Cloncurry Unearthed Museum. Rockheads will also love the extensive gem and mineral collection and the fact that they can obtain fossickers licences and maps here.