Burketown has a population of approximately 170 people and is located on the Albert River in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Along with the township of Gregory Downs approximately 120km south on the Gregory River, it is part of the far north-western Shire of Burke in Queensland.
Burketown's location in the State is 2115km north west of Brisbane, 900km east of Cairns and approximately 30km inland from the Gulf of Carpentaria. The nearest large regional centre is Mount Isa, 425km to the south.
The Shire is within a regional area known as the Gulf Savannah, defined as the region of woodland and savanna grassland surrounding the Gulf of Carpentaria in north western Queensland and eastern Northern Territory. Within the Burke Shire boundary lies the Boodjamulla National Park, formerly known as the Lawn Hill National Park, and the World Heritage Site Riversleigh Fossil Fields.
Getting here by road
Burketown is located on one of Australia's most adventurous drives, known as the Savannah Way, and located 230km by road west from Normanton and 430km north of Mount Isa. If travelling from the Northern Territory, the town can be reached via Daly Waters and Borroloola. Burketown is surrounded by many unsealed roads - please visit the Shire Council website for a road conditions report.
- From Normanton : Burketown is located about 230km west from Normanton, around 3.5 hours drive.
- From Mount Isa: Burketown is located about 430km north from Mount Isa, around 6.5 hours drive.
- From Cloncurry: Burketown is located around 450km north west from Cloncurry, around 7 hours drive.
- From Cairns: Burketown is located around 900km south west from Cairns, around 15 hours drive.
- From Brisbane: Burketown is located around 2600km north west from Brisbane, around 22 hours drive.
If you are coming from further afield, the RACQ Trip Planner should help!
Getting here by Air
Rex is the only airline that services Burketown and has direct flights in and out from Cairns, Doomadgee, Mornington Island, Mount Isa and Normanton. You can also fly to Mount Isa or Cloncurry and hire a car.
To make a booking, check prices or schedules please visit Rex. For connecting flights, please check other service providers for connecting flights with Rex. Qantaslink will be helpful.
Savannah Aviation offer charter flight services as far afield as Cairns, Darwin, and Alice Springs and have destinations throughout the Gulf region. They operate from their office in Burketown, visit Savannah Aviation for more information.
Getting here By Rail
There are no direct trains to Burketown only a local Gulflander that operates between Normantan and Croydon. You can take the train to Mount Isa or Cloncurry and hire a car.
Getting here By Bus
Trans North Bus and Coach offers a route from Cairns to Karumba, stopping in many of the outback towns along the way but does not extend as far as Burketown. These towns include Undara, Mount Surprise, Georgetown, Croydon and Normanton. The route leaves Cairns every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6.30am and gets to Karumba at 6.00pm. The eastbound route then leaves Karumba on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 6.30am and arrives in Cairns at 6.15pm.
This is a remote part of Australia with relatively few travellers. That is something special, and it also requires a planned approach. If you are driving your own vehicle carry appropriate equipment, maps, food and water. Be confident your vehicle is in good condition and please drive safely. Plan your itinerary including fuel, food and water stops, and be able to carry rubbish securely to the next dump. Then you can relax and enjoy the drive!
Before adventuring onto outback roads you should obtain a weather report. Even if you've driven on a road hundreds of times, road conditions can change quickly in the country. Consider delaying your trip if heavy rain is forecasted.
Check road conditions via the RACQ, Shire Councils ( Burke, Normanton, Cloncurry and Mount Isa ) and local police. You can also view the river crossing cameras in the Burke and Carpentaria Shires. If you cannot view the current Burke Shire Council Road Report, please contact the Council Office on (07) 4745 5100. Note that your mobile phone may not work in the outback, check with your provider.
Slow down on unsealed roads. Poor visibility due to dust, sun, and rain can disguise oncoming vehicles, pot holes, loose gravel and slippery mud patches. Turn on your headlights where visibility is poor and avoid driving at sunrise and sunset. Be aware of animals on the roads, dawn and dusk are favorite roadside feeding times. Do not swerve to avoid an animal, this may cause you to roll your vehicle. Be particularly aware of weather conditions during 'The Wet', from November through April. Heavy rainfall can cause flooding and road closures. If you are travelling in convoy leave plenty of space between vehicle to improve visibility and to allow other vehicles to overtake safely.
Road trains up to 55 metres long (the length of 10 cars) are a feature of outback roads. Make sure you have plenty of room before overtaking and watch for trailer sway. On narrow roads ensure the truck can see that you want to overtake, or if encountering from the opposite direction, slow down or stop and give them the whole road to use. In the case you are towing and a truck wants to overtake, slow down or stop on a straight section of road. Give large vehicles room to turn.
Burke Shire Boundaries
- Burketown to Leichhardt River via Floraville (Savannah Way) – 72 km sealed road
- Burketown to Leichhardt River via Gregory and Nardoo (Wills Developmental Road) – 174 km via sealed road
- Burketown to Doomadgee Shire Border (Savannah Way) – 80 km via sealed road
- Doomadgee Shire Border to NT border (Savannah Way) – 102km via mix of sealed and unsealed road
- Gregory to Mt Isa Shire Border (Camooweal Road) – 42 km via majority unsealed road
Savannah Aviation offers charter flights to many destinations in the Outback and around North Queensland. Based in Burketown, this includes local attractions such as the Morning Glory Clouds, Sweers Island and Boodjamulla National Park, as well as other regional centres. Savannah Aviation are also available for scenic flights over many of the magnificent sights of our Northern Outback and Gulf region. Phone (07) 4745 5177 / Fax (07) 4745 5211.