Experience Quinkan Country with a trip to far north Queensland and the heritage steeped town of Laura.
Read on to discover the best things to see and do in Laura or find a book accommodation in Laura today.
The remote, inland town of Laura may be small, but it boasts a colourful history spanning both Aboriginal culture and the days of settlement and exploration. The town contains the largest collection of prehistoric rock art in the world, with the area around Laura, known as Quinkan Country, holding deep Indigenous significance. The area’s name refers to the giant Aboriginal spirit creatures called ‘Quinkans’, which were said to live in cracks in the rock and came out to frighten people.
Laura and its surrounding areas are rich in both natural and historical beauty, and is an ideal destination for those wishing to immerse themselves in Indigenous culture. Explore the various rock art sites around town, where hundreds of galleries lie hidden in the cliffs to the Great Dividing Range, or soak up the relics of Australia’s gold rush and exploration eras.Visit the impressive Lakefield National Park, located just 27km from Laura, and experience the prolific birdlife of Queensland’s second largest National Park.
If you time your trip right, the Laura Dance and Cultural Festival is a must-see. Held every second year, the festival is the biggest and longest Aboriginal festival of its kind in Australia, with many Indigenous communities participating through songs, dances, music and stories.
The Quinkan and Regional Cultural Centre is a celebration of all aspects of Quinkan Country, from Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal heritage to the natural environment. Owned and operated by the town and region, the centre offers a World Class Interpretive Display detailing the fascinating rock art in the region, with rock art tours organised through the centre. Additionally, visitors can purchase a selection of regional Aboriginal arts and crafts, as well as a variety of books, souvenirs and postcards.
Uncover the secrets of this town on foot. The Laura Heritage Trail begins in the centre of town opposite the historic pub, and takes curious visitors past remnants of the gold era, the old jail and the historic railway bridge.
The remains of the historic rail bridge are well worth a look, which was constructed in 1891 to link Cooktown to the Palmer River goldfields. By this time gold had almost run out though, so the railway was stopped and the bridge led to nowhere. The sandy track is less than 1km-long and is suitable for 2WDs.
Situated 12km from Laura, Split Rock is one of the most impressive sites for Aboriginal rock art, and offers self-guided tours of its galleries for a small fee. The nearby Guguyanlangi galleries are also well worth a visit.
Submerge yourself in Australia’s golden past by exploring the old gold diggings around the Palmer River. With permits and property owner’s permission, you can even have a go at fossicking for gold yourself.
Located on the 27km route from Palmer River to Lakeland, the James Earl Lookout offers a great view over the countryside and of the road winding away in the distance. You will find plenty of parking room for caravans here too.
Located in far north Queensland, Laura is around 140km west of Cooktown.
The drive from Cooktown to Laura via State Route 81 will take around an hour and a half. From Lakeland, Laura is another 62km. Parts of this road are unfenced so you need to be mindful of wandering stock.
There are two van parks in Laura: one is behind the Quinkan Hotel and the other is opposite the small one-pump roadhouse. For more accommodation options in and around Laura, click here.
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