Things to do in Hughenden (& Free Camping), QLD

🌵 16 Things to Do in Hughenden, QLD (+ FREE Camping!)

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The quaint little country town of Hughenden is in the middle of Outback Queensland. With plenty of things to do in Hughenden and 7 days of Free Camping in town, travellers are more than welcome.

Hughenden is a tiny little town situated 383km west of Townsville, QLD. At last count, Hughenden had a population of just 1,136 people. You’ll find everything you need in town with two food stores, a bakery and butcher, post office, Library and other general services.

Things to do in Hughenden include the smallest piece of the Australian Dinosaur Trail, sheep shearing, a Coolabah Tree and the FJ Holden Cafe. If you’re looking for camping, check out the free camp in town, which offers water and a dump point, plus the ability to set up camp and walk to town.

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Hughenden Stats & Map

HUGHENDEN QUICK STATS
Population1136
Winter Temperature (Avg. Min.)9.6℃
Summer Temperature (Avg. Min.)35℃
Annual Rainfall493 mm
Elevation324 m

Use the interactive map below to find all of the things to do in Hughenden that are included in this post.

MAP KEY:
🟡 Yellow Pin Drop = Things to do in Hughenden

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Things to do in Hughenden

Flinders Discovery Centre

Flinders Discovery Centre, Hughenden QLD
Flinders Discovery Centre, Hughenden QLD

The Flinders Discovery Centre forms one quarter of Queensland’s Dinosaur Trail. Inside is a range of relics, fossils, ancient history and a giant dinosaur skeleton. There’s also a great educational section for the kids, plus a Movie Theatre.

Out the back is dedicated to the rich history of sheep shearing in the region. You can walk through the ‘shed’ and explore many aspects of the agricultural side of the area.

This section of the Dinosaur Trail is one of the main things to do in Hughenden, which also makes the Hughenden Free Camping popular during the cooler months.

Read the Full Guide to Australia’s Dinosaur Trail for the full itinerary.

FLINDERS DISCOVERY CENTRE
Entry Cost• Adult – $10
• Pensioner – $8
• Child (5 – 17 yrs) – $5
• Under 5 yrs – FREE
Opening HoursApril to September:
• Monday to Sunday – 9.00 am to 5.00 pm

October to March:
• Monday to Friday – 9.00 am to 5.00 pm
• Saturday – 9.00 am to 1.00 pm
Address37 Gray Street, Hughenden QLD 4821

Historic Coolabah Tree

Coolabah Tree, Hughenden QLD
Historic Coolabah Tree, Hughenden QLD

Right across from the Showgrounds and Hughenden Free Camp is a particularly significant Coolabah Tree. In fact, this Coolabah Tree is linked to two relief ventures searching for the Burke and Wills Expedition.

Both ventures blazed the tree during their stay – see if you can spot the markings as you wander around the tree along the boardwalk.

The plaque at the site of the tree gives the background story behind the tree’s significance, which sits alongside Station Creek.

HISTORIC COOLABAH TREE
CostFREE
OpenAnytime
AddressStansfield Street, Hughenden QLD 4821

Water Tank Art

Artists Joel Fergie (aka The Zookeeper) and Travis Vinson (aka DRAPL) have brought two of the Hughenden water tanks to life. These guys are well known in the oversized art community, having painted some of the famous Silo Art Murals spotted around the country.

Hughenden Alyss Street, Water Tank Art, QLD
Alyss Street Tank Art (Australian Silo Art Trail)

Alyss Street Tank Art

The Alyss Street Water Tower artwork took just 5 days to complete in June 2021.

“The painting depicts a young local boy playing in the dust with his toy dinosaurs. We really wanted to bring that sense of wonder we all have as a kid. What a fun one to try and capture from concept to painting. A huge Thank You to all the locals who looked after us in our time in town. Thank you for the trust and appreciation of our vision. Thank you to Flinders Shire Council for organising and putting us up (and putting up with us)”

– Joel Fergie (artist)
McLaren Street Tank Art (Australian Silo Art Trail)
McLaren Street Tank Art (Australian Silo Art Trail)

The McLaren Street Water Tower artwork features a beautiful outback sunset over the recreation lake.

“The Hughenden Water Tower depicts the local views and the magnificent new lake in the heart of town. Joel Fergie and I packed a lot of colours onto this one to try and compete with the spectacular sunsets.”

– Travis Vinson (artist)
WATER TANK ART
CostFREE
Address1. 54 Alyss Street, Hughenden QLD 4821
2. Cnr McLaren Street & Winton Road, Hughenden QLD 4821

BIG Muttaburrasaurus

Big Muttaburrasaurus, Hughenden QLD
“Mutt” the BIG Muttaburrasaurus, Hughenden QLD

At the intersection of Stansfield Street and Gray Street stands the BIG Muttaburrasaurus replica. This guy used to live at the Museum of Tropical Queensland in Townsville until 1999.

The first Muttaburrasaurus was found along the Thompson River in 1963 in Muttaburra (210 km south of Hughenden). There have been several finds across Outback Queensland since then, including in the Flinders Shire.

For those on the Big Things Hunt, you’ll find the Big Muttaburrasaurus on the list! Feel free to download the complete Aussie Big Things Checklist with over 600 items, or the Queensland checklist below.

QLD Big Things Checklist

QLD Big Things Checklist

Find over 150 Big Things spotted around Queensland!

  • 17-page checklist
  • Pre-filled with 150+ items
  • Categorised into 6 regions
  • QLD Regional Map
  • Full street addresses
  • Record finds & dates
  • DIGITAL & PRINTABLE
BIG MUTTABURRASAURUS
CostFREE
AddressCnr Stansfield St & Gray St, Hughenden QLD 4821

Dinosaur Spotting

Dinosaur, Hughenden QLD
“Darby” the Dinosaur, Hughenden Library

See how many dinosaur sculptures you can find spotted around Hughenden. Along with the BIG Muttaburrasaurus, there are some others hidden throughout the town.

Here are some Hughenden dinosaurs to look out for:

  • Leanneosaur – Discovery Park (next to the Library)
  • Darby the Dinosaur – Library (outside on the wall)
  • Pterosaurs – Flinders Discovery Centre (inside)
  • Mutt (Gray Street)
  • Giant Ammonite (outside wall near the Library)
DINOSAUR SPOTTING
CostFREE

Porcupine Gorge

Porcupine Gorge National Park, QLD
Porcupine Gorge, Porcupine QLD

If you head 74km North of Hughenden, you’ll find the spectacular Porcupine Gorge. Some say it’s Australia’s own mini Grand Canyon! You’ll have to be the judge of that yourself.

Porcupine Creek has carved a giant canyon that reveals sedimentary rocks over hundreds of millions of years. During this time, the erosion has created ‘The Pyramid.’

There are two vantage points to view the gorge. The first is a 200m lookout walk, which is an easy stroll.

A further 10km drive up the road will take you into Porcupine National Park and campground. This is where you can gain access to the walking track down into the gorge itself.

Walking down into the gorge is only about 1 km long, however, it’s a very steep trail and can be deceiving.

It’s an oasis down in the gorge with beautiful swimming holes and many pockets to explore. Pack a towel and a picnic lunch to enjoy while you’re down there.

Make sure you factor in the steep climb coming back up. Take plenty of water and good walking shoes.

PORCUPINE GORGE
CostFREE
Distance74 km north of Hughenden
Lookout AddressPorcupine Gorge Lookout Access, Porcupine QLD 4821
Gorge AddressPyramids Access (off Mount Emu Road), Porcupine QLD

Flinders Fossicking Site

Ammonite Fossil, Kronosaurus Korner, Richmond QLD
Ammonite Fossil

Hughenden sits just inside what was once the great ancient Eromanga Sea. So, while the ocean waters may have long subsided, what’s left is an abundance of fossils.

Located just behind the Showgrounds is the FREE Flinders Fossicking Site where visitors are welcome to have a rummage around. See if you can find a dinosaur fossil to take home as a keepsake.

Be sure to take your own equipment (if you wish), plus hat and water as there is no shade or facilities.

What you may find at Flinders Fossicking Site:

  • Ammonites
  • Gypsum Crystal
  • Belemnites
  • Bivalves
FLINDERS FOSSICKING SITE
CostFREE
Address(Behind the Showgrounds)
Mowbray Street, Hughenden QLD 4821

The Flinders River

Flinders River, Hughenden QLD
Flinders River, Hughenden QLD

Did you know that the Flinders River is the longest river in Queensland? It’s also the sixth largest river in Australia, extending 1004 kilometres in length.

The Flinders River rises northeast of Hughenden into the Burra Ranges, after meandering past Richmond, Julia Creek and up into the Gulf of Carpentaria. In fact, we Free Camped by the Flinders River up in Normanton!

It’s normal for the Flinders River to run dry until the Wet Season when it becomes a popular swimming spot for locals and tourists.

FLINDERS RIVER
CostFREE
AddressLittle Avenue, Hughenden QLD 4821

Eco Walk on Flinders

Robert Gray Park, Hughenden QLD
Robert Gray Memorial Park, Hughenden QLD

Take a stroll along the 1.5 km Eco Walk, which follows alongside the Flinders River on Little Avenue. The diverse bioregions of Flinders Shire have been replicated with various species of flora and artworks, including metal fish sculptures.

You can also find picnic tables, shelters, viewing platforms and drinking fountains along the way.

ECO WALK ON FLINDERS
CostFREE
AddressLittle Avenue, Hughenden QLD 4821

Wirilla Comet Windmill

Comet Windmill, Hughenden QLD
Wirilla Comet Windmill, Hughenden QLD

The 35-foot windmill in Hughenden is one of only fifteen ever manufactured by Sydney Williams and Co Pty Ltd. The first six Comet Windmills were made in Rockhampton, while the remaining nine were made in Sydney.

This Wirilla Mill is number 11 and can pump over 1 million litres of water per day with average winds. This was how water was supplied for stock, which was delivered along small water courses across the land known as bore drains.

WIRILLA COMET WINDMILL
CostFREE
AddressCnr Uhr St & Kennedy Developmental Rd, Hughenden QLD 4821

Hughenden Recreational Lake

Hughenden Recreational Lake, Hughenden QLD

Hughenden received the welcome addition of a manmade lake in 2019. This outback oasis is popular for swimming, fishing, boating and other water activities.

The lake is 22 hectares (59 acres) in size and 900 metres long by 400 metres wide (about the size of 35 football fields!).

SWIMMING at the lake

For a designated swimming area, head to the entrance between Moran Street and Mowbray Street. There you’ll find a manmade beach with a jetty to jump off as well as a water feature in the garden area.

FISHING at the lake

For those who are into fishing, head to the southern end of the lake where there’s a fishing jetty, amenities and shelter. In 2020, Sooty Grunter fingerlings (15,000), Sleepy Cod fingerlings (15,000) and Red Claw yabbies (5,000) were released into the dam.

RELAXING at the lake

There are picnic tables, free gas BBQs, a shaded playground and walking/ cycling pathways. Dogs are allowed at Hughenden Recreational Lake, as long as they’re on a lead and being cleaned up after.

HUGHENDEN RECREATIONAL LAKE
CostFREE
AddressMoran Street, Hughenden QLD 4821

Federation Rotunda

Federation Rotunda, Hughenden QLD
Federation Rotunda, Hughenden QLD

Go for a wander along Brodie Street and have a look at the large artwork known as the Federation Rotunda. It’s a sculpture put together by local artists to celebrate Centenary Federation in 2001. You can walk around it and even take a seat underneath if you need to rest your weary legs.

FEDERATION ROTUNDA
CostFREE
AddressBrodie Street, Hughenden QLD 4821

FJ Holden Cafe

FJ Holden Cafe, Hughenden QLD
FJ Holden Cafe, Hughenden QLD

Step back in time in the retro FJ Holden Cafe. The 1950’s inspired eatery attracts Elvis Presley and Holden fans from all over the country. Everywhere you look are vintage items and memorabilia served with diner-style food.

FJ Holden Cafe, Hughenden QLD
FJ Holden Cafe, Hughenden QLD

Funnily enough, the name came from the owner whose initials are FJ Holden and they’ve rolled with that theme ever since.

FJ HOLDEN CAFE
CostFREE Entry
Address55 Brodie Street, Hughenden QLD 4821

Mount Walker

Mount Walker Lookout, Hughenden QLD
Mount Walker (Source: Visit Hughenden)

Mount Walker is located 10 km south of Hughenden and offers 6 lookouts with spectacular 360º views over the region. This is a popular sunset location, especially for photographers.

LOOKOUTS
REAY LookoutView Mitchell Downs with Reay Station homestead in the distance (35km south of Hughenden)
JARDINE LookoutOverlooks the Jardine Valley between Hughenden & Prairie
ETNA LookoutView of the open plains southwest of Hughenden
IRONBARK LookoutNamed after the Ironbark trees directly in front of the lookout mound
HUGHENDEN LookoutBest at night as the Hughenden township lights twinkle in the distance
SUNSET LookoutBest right on sunset for purple winter sunsets and blazing orange in the summer.

Getting to Mount Walker:

  • Head south along Flinders Highway
  • Turn right onto Hughenden Muttaburra Road
  • Drive 8 km to signs that will direct you to the right
  • Drive up the mountain

Mount Walker Safety Tips:

  • The road is sealed the whole way except for the dirt sections up the top
  • There is a 16% incline going up the hill
  • Not recommended for motorhomes, buses or vehicles towing

Watch a Sheep Shearing Show

Sheep Shearing, Hughenden QLD
Sheep Shearing, Hughenden QLD

During our stay, the local council were offering a FREE Sheep Shearing Show a few days per week (seasonally). Check the local Visitor Information Centre for more information and availabilities.

SHEEP SHEARING SHOWS
CostFREE
AddressInfo Centre – 37 Gray Street, Hughenden QLD 4821

Hughenden Festivals & Events

Depending on when you’re travelling through Hughenden, there may just be a local festival on that you go to – giving you a truly authentic Queensland Outback experience!

FESTIVALDETAILS
Hughenden Country Music FestivalEnd of July
• 3 days
• Diggers Entertainment Centre
• Music, workshops, entertainment
Festival of Outback SkiesEnd of April
• 3 days
• Music, art, workshops (Art Trail)
• Bull riding (Showgrounds)
• Water activities (Lake)
• Dinner under the stars
Hughenden CampdraftEnd of August
• 2 days
• Sports & entertainment
Hughenden RacesMay and July
• Horse racing
• Food & drinks
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Hughenden FREE Camping

Hughenden Free Camp, QLD

The Hughenden RV Campground is located in town directly beside the Hughenden Showgrounds. Visitors can stay for up to 7 nights of free camping while enjoying all of the things to do in Hughenden.

All campers must have a permit and keep it displayed for the duration of their stay.

Free Camping Permits:

  • Register at self-registration station on the right-hand side of the camp
  • Keep your permit displayed

This campground is strictly for self-contained vehicles only and they are strict about it. Be aware that the camp manager will come around every day and check that you are in fact keeping within the rules.

Self-contained Vehicles MUST HAVE:

  • Built-in shower and toilet (no portable versions)
  • Black water tank or toilet cassette
  • Grey water can be collected in a bucket/ container, but MUST NOT be emptied into the dump point or around the trees
Hughenden Free Camp, QLD

Hughenden RV Campground FEATURES:

💲 FREE
⏰ 7 days – must register & display permit
⛺️ Self-contained vehicles only (Caravans, RVs & Big Rigs)
🐶 Dogs allowed
💧 Drinking water
🗑 Bins
⬇️ Dump Point
⚡️ Generators allowed
📺 TV Reception
📶 Telstra Reception
❌ NO camp fires or grey water dumping permitted

HUGHENDEN FREE RV CAMPGROUND
AddressStansfield Street, Hughenden QLD 4821
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OUTBACK QUEENSLAND ESSENTIALS

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4 thoughts on “🌵 16 Things to Do in Hughenden, QLD (+ FREE Camping!)”

  1. That seems unfair as we have our own water on board, a portable toilet and shower in our camper trailer and dump all our waste water and toilet in the proper place all the time.

  2. Hi does the Hughenden free camp allow camper trailers for an overnight stay?

    Description says Caravans, Motorhomes and Busses.

    1. The Hughenden Free Camp is super strict on only allowing in ‘self contained’ vehicles. And yes, they will come around each afternoon and check to see if you’ve got water, toilet and shower on board. If not, you’ll get kicked out. So, Camper Trailers wouldn’t cut it in their eyes.

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