Nestled among the Selwyn Ranges and on the banks of the Leichhardt River, Mount Isa is often colloquially referred to as the ‘oasis of the outback’. There’s plenty to discover in the old mining town, and most of the best spots to see are some of the least well known.
While it’s home to one of the most productive single mines and the largest rodeo in the southern hemisphere, the city is known for a lot more than that. With a picturesque but harsh landscape that has barely changed over the years, visitors flock to the city to fish, camp or relax as they enjoy the gorgeous Australian outback.
But we don’t need to convince you, you’ve already booked your tickets.
So, here’s everything you need to consider before you hop on your plane, train or into your car to travel to Mount Isa.
Understand the weather
Before coming to any part of Australia, you need to familiarise yourself with the weather. Australia is huge. It takes five hours to cross the country by plane. And the cities are very spread out. The sheer size of Australia also means that you can experience several different seasons throughout your stay.
So, you need to be prepared, especially when visiting the outback. While summers are unbearable, winters are mild during the day but temperatures can drop to below zero through the night. Really do your research about the time of year you’re planning to visit and pack accordingly. The sun is harsh everywhere in Australia and you can be looking at 40-plus degree days Celsius, so be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen no matter the season.
Get organised for international travellers
Whether this means ensuring your home and pet sitter is lined up, notifying the bank that you’re visiting another country, and ensuring your tickets are all in order. It also means either getting someone to regularly checking for mail and deliveries, or placing a ‘stop’ on all mail while you’re away. It may be worth changing a bit of currency into Australian dollars before you leave as well.
While the fees may be slightly higher, it’s never a good idea to arrive in a country without any local currency as you never know what you may experience when you arrive. It’s also important to understand the local entry and exit requirements and remember, never bring any food, wooden items or drugs into the country. Australia is very strict on customs regulations.
Get familiar with local transport options
The road rules in the Australian outback at quite different to even the Australian rules in the cities so it’s important to familiarise yourself with them. For example, larger caravans are expected to allow cars and smaller vehicles to pass them, usually indicated by flashing your lights or tooting your horn.
People are also very friendly in the outback and generally expect a level of politeness on the road – a smile and a wave to say thanks will always be appreciated. In terms of Mount Isa specifically, public transport is limited to taxis so it may be worth hiring your own car. But remember, you’ll be sharing the road with local animals including kangaroos and emus so take care.
Packing for the Australian outback is very different to packing for the cities. While the clothing and accessories you’ll need may not be fashionable, they’re necessary. There are lots of flies around so it’s helpful to have something to protect your face, such as a fly net. It’s also important to pack for the season you’re travelling in and remember the temperature changes throughout the day.
While it can rise to above 40 degrees Celsius, as the sun goes down, so can the temperature so pack layers that you can pop on and peel off as required. Also, pack sensible and comfortable shoes. While it may feel too hot for closed shoes, the terrain can be rocky, so if you’re planning on exploring a bit closed shoes should definitely be on your packing list. For more help packing, see our Mount Isa Packing List here.
Pick your travel time carefully
While the weather will be on determining factor for when you visit Mount Isa, there’s also the Mount Isa Mines Rodeo to consider. The town becomes flooded with visitors for the Rodeo so if you’re searching for a quiet, relaxing and exploratory holiday, visiting during the Rodeo is probably not a good idea. However, it’s truly a sight to see, so if you’re open to it, there are tours, concerts, street parties and markets, plus, of course, the rodeo itself to enjoy. If you’re planning on attending the rodeo though, ensure you look the part with an Akubra hat and some traditional RM Williams boots.
Respect the local culture
Our final tip is to acknowledge and respect the Indigenous Australian culture. The Indigenous Australians have very strong values and beliefs and it’s fascinating to learn about. Importantly, they believe that the landscape is at the core of spirituality.
Hopefully reading through this you’re able to properly prepare for your trip to Mount Isa. The only thing that might be left is your accommodation. The RedEarth Boutique Hotel is easily the best and most comfortable place to stay while you visit the region, check out our accommodation and book into a room today!