Prospect of getting bogged doesn't deter intrepid travellers
THE night before our departure from Boulia it started to rain, much to the delight of the locals but rain adds another element to outback travel.
Dirt roads quickly become impassable, even after only a small amount of rain, and if you have to get off the sealed road for any reason you can easily become stuck.
The Diamantina Development Rd to Mt Isa was even narrower than the Min Min Byway so it was with some trepidation that we headed off.
As luck would have it, we only met several cars along the way and no road trains meaning we did not have to get completely of the road and could always keep at least two wheels on the sealed surface.
We had to keep a sharp lookout for kangaroos and emus along this stretch because the rain had filled all of the depressions in the road and the wildlife had come out of the bush to drink from them.
The countryside heading north from Boulia is generally flat until you reach the township of Dajarra then changes dramatically to rocky hills and outcrops which increase in size as you approach Mt Isa.
Unfortunately, we only had limited opportunity stop and take in the scenery because getting off the road could have led to us becoming bogged.
Mt Isa is the largest city in north-west Queensland and, as such, is an ideal place to stop and stock up on supplies.
The city grew up around the Mt Isa mine and it is the mine that dominates the skyline.
Accommodation can be sparse and so most of the five caravan parks that service the area also provide accommodation for workers and their families.
The first park we tried was full but we had luck with the second one and found a place to stay.
If you are travelling during peak times later in the year it would be advisable to book ahead to ensure you have a place to stay.
After settling-in and restocking supplies it was time to see what the Isa had to offer.
First stop was the Visitor Information Centre where the helpful staff supplied us with a city map and information on what to see and do.
A guided tour of the Hard Times Mine was in order but as Christine didn't like the idea of being underground, she decided to go shopping instead.
This is not just a tour, this is a unique opportunity to experience what life is truly like for the men and women who toil far below the surface on a daily basis.
The tour is a hands-on interactive journey that guides you through the day-to-day activities of an underground mining operation.
Another great place to go is the city lookout (no caravans are allowed).
It gives you a fantastic view of the city and the mine and if you do it in the late afternoon you get to see a brilliant sunset and then lights of the city as it gets darker.
As well as being the city's water supply Lake Moondarra, 16km north, is also a great place for a picnic and maybe a spot of fishing.
The lake is stocked with barramundi fingerlings on a yearly basis.
You can also catch sooty grunter, long tom and sleepy cod.
The lake is open for boating or canoeing but camping is not permitted.
If you happen to be interested in history a visit to the underground hospital is a must.
After the bombing of Darwin by the Japanese, it was feared they may push for more inland raids.
The underground hospital was built by volunteers in 1942 as a result of that fear and is tunnelled into the hill behind the Mt Isa Base Hospital.
You could easily spend a few weeks in Mt Isa, using it as a base to explore the region but for us with only a limited amount of time a few days would have to do.