Outback Queensland Destination Guide
Outback Queensland Holidays
When Aussie poet Dorothea Mackellar penned “I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, of rugged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains”, she was summarising much of the Queensland Outback experience. As the bitumen turns into corrugated dirt roads, you will meet characters as big and as varied as the landscape.
It’s not all cattle stations and sheep farms, either – although you can experience both. Head to Barcaldine (Barckie if you’re from that neck of the woods) and visit the dead tree that is a memorial to the birth of the Australian Labor Party. For the more athletic, there’s the Dirt and Dust Triathlon at Julia Creek.
Keep heading west and you can knock back a beer at the Mt Isa Irish Club – one of the nation’s biggest. If it’s adventure you’re looking for, Outback Queensland will definitely deliver. And don’t forget world-famous dinosaur country.
People love Outback Queensland for:
- Larger-than-life characters always ready to have a yarn
- Ice-cold beer in a traditional country pub
- Variety of landscape, heritage, and sense of adventure
Outback Queensland is a vast and extraordinary region where you can visit some of Australia’s most historic sites. Take in the wonder of the night sky at the Charleville Cosmos Centre and Observatory, and no trip to the Outback would be complete without a visit to the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre in the central western town of Longreach.
Mining is one of the major industries in Queensland’s northwest and you can experience underground life with Mt Isa’s Outback at Isa before heading to the lush landscape and historic towns of the state’s Gulf Savannah. In the far west, on the edge of the Simpson Desert, the town of Birdsville hosts the Birdsville races every year, an event that attracts thousands of visitors to the ultimate in isolated towns.
Plan your trip by:
- Cultivating a close relationship with a map of Queensland – it’s a big state and, unless you’ve got a serious amount of time on your hands, it is wise to tackle it in bite-size pieces.
- Knowing that Outback Queensland Tourism has divided the Bush (which is what Aussies call the bit of our country that’s not the coast) into five distinct regions: Channel Country (the state’s southwest); Matilda Country (central west); Dinosaur Fossil and Mining Country (northwest); Gulf Savannah (far northwest); and the Diamantina (far west).
Eat & Drink
You won’t go short of a meal when exploring this part of the world. Champagne and bush-tucker canapes illuminated by the exploding stars of the Milky Way are the entree to a perfectly cooked Wagyu steak at a 5-star resort.
Pull up at a traditional bush pub and you can chow down on fish fresh from the King River, nestled beside crispy chips and salad; it’s in the Outback where pub grub not just prevails but excels. Note the local lingo: a ‘counterie’ is a pub meal (eaten at the dining room counter) and, washed down with an ice-cold beer, is one of the best Outback culinary experiences available.
Eat and drink like a local by:
- Snagging a seat at a Bush BBQ – you’ll never look at a ‘barbie’ in the same way again.
- Noting that the further west you go, the less opportunity there is to buy fresh fruit and veggies – and that includes bread – so stock up when you can.
- Remembering that there are three things you absolutely must carry at all times: water, water and water.
Where to Stay
Warning: luxury hotels are in short supply in the Queensland Outback. You will, however, find some of the world’s most varied and adventurous accommodation experiences.
You can rest your head at a range of hotels, motels, pubs, B&Bs, homestays, farm stays, and glamping – where glamour and camping collide. Or just throw a swag out under the stars and wonder at the night sky. A well-supplied 4WD and a tent, or a motorhome, are other options – but you do need to be prepared.
Tips on choosing where to stay:
- Have another look at that Queensland map – it can be a long way between drinks so organise accommodation in advance for each stage of your trip.
- Check weather conditions if you are camping or travelling under your own steam – ferocious storms, flash flooding, dust storms and rather cold nights can make a hotel or motel a more comfy (and safe) option.
- Clear the ground before you throw down your sleeping bag – a nest of ants can make a good night’s sleep somewhat difficult!
There are a lot of tourist attractions west of the Great Divide and, as we all know, at the end of every tourist attraction there’s a gift shop. If you look beyond the usual trinkets and T-shirts, however, you may find a gem of a local carving or a piece of Indigenous art that would be an elegant memento of your trip.
- Keep your eyes open in a bush bakery or butcher – you might just come across some superb home-made jams, sauces and chutneys.
- Head to Tambo for a Tambo Teddy – they’re cute, cuddly and give the wool industry a shot in the arm.
- You’re heading into cattle country – buy the beef. You won’t regret it.
Outback Queensland Like a Local
Mustering cattle, shearing sheep, milking cows and cooking up some damper to smother with golden syrup will certainly get your foot in the historic homestead door when it comes to experiencing life as an Outback Queenslander.
These offerings are becoming more common – and popular – as property owners open up their work-a-day lives to visitors. A bit of bush bashing (Google it) followed by a soak in a natural bore, and you’re set.
At home in Outback Queensland:
- Pick up an Akubra – the quintessential Aussie bush hat. Note: residents don’t do corks so give them a miss (the corks not the residents).
- Don’t be afraid to be friendly – a chat and a beer with a local means you will have stories to tell for a lifetime.
- Bolognese mince on toast for breakfast. It’s a thing, and it’s a mealtime sensation that will set you up for the day.