An adventure into the outback is one journey you won’t forget. You’ll visit historic pubs, see spectacular sunsets and gape at star-studded night skies. There’s the excitement of seeing bucking broncos at a rodeo or searching for an ancient fossil. Queensland’s outback extends from the far south-west corner through to the Gulf of Carpentaria. It’s a huge area encompassing a large portion of the Sunshine State. From the south to the north it’s almost 2,000km and was once part of the Great Inland Sea. It’s now one of the richest regions for dinosaur discoveries in the world. Queensland’s outback is also the birth place of Qantas and the Royal Flying Doctor. It has inpired poets and artists, such as Banjo Paterson who composed Waltzing Matilda (the melodic song that is Australia’s unofficial national anthem). The choices of things to do, places to stay and Outback adventures are as extensive as the area itself. You can camp under the stars, stay in small towns or experience sleeping at outback stations. Here’s a few tips for your Queensland Outback adventures.
1-Call in at the pub
Pubs are more than a watering hole, they’re also a meeting point in Outback Queensland bringing people together.
The local pub is a great place for a yarn and the community news.
You’ll meet outlandish characters and hear ribald stories. Some of the jokes may not be what you’d call appropriate for re-telling around the dining table back home though!
So what is my favourite outback pub? That’s a hard one as I have more than one.
Middleton Hotel, Toompine and Birdsville would have to be top three on my list. Middelton and Toompine as the characters that run the pubs are hilarious and Birdsville because it must be Australia’s most iconic hotel.
2-Events and Festivals
Check out the events in the area you’re visiting as this is a terrific way to experience outback culture, be immersed in their environment and have a load of fun!
Plus you’re guaranteed many memorable moments. Mix with the locals.
Strike up a conversation by saying g’day, how are you mate (everyone is everyone’s mate in the outback). From there the chat will flow.
3-Buy local for food
Once you leave the city, you are travelling through some of Australia’s premier food producing areas.
Bread and meat from local bakeries and butchers is usually a much better quality – as the local blokes preparing it only use the best and freshest ingredients.
Vegetables depending on season can be expensive but that is the same rule for anywhere.
Mitchell Bakery is renowned for its tasty bread. Quilpie Butchers is one we always pull into – if you phone ahead they’ll have your meat ready for you and their sausages are brilliant. Birdsville Bakery has an amazing array of pies all prepared by Dusty who is a bit of a character himself.
My favourites are the Kangaroo and Claret pie and the Curried Camel. Dusty’s latest is the Ale + Tail pie which I’ve added to my list to try next visit.
4-Buy local for fuel
This is a big ticket item on any road trip. It may cost less to buy your fuel as you travel than carry it. Do the maths on carrying a load.
By buying locally you keep these special places in business for those of us next to pass through.
Take the time to plan topping up your fuel at every available location.
Many outback remote pubs like the Hungerford Hotel also sell fuel.
Before any long trip, have your vehicle serviced. Not having to think about your vehicle is one of the advantages of going on a tour, as it’s all taken care of and not your problem.
That’s one item you can tick straight off your list. If you are driving make sure to check your tyres, insurance and communication.
The majority of outback towns have mobile phone coverage (some providers are better serviced than others) but it’s worth looking at carrying a satellite phone.
I personally travel with a UHF radio and Spot Gen 3 tracking device as I travel often alone. The tracking device works a treat and someone at home can watch my travels knowing I am safe on my Outback adventures.
6-Fly nets – will there be flies and do I need one?
Well that depends on the season. Sometimes there may be hardly any and at other times they can be thick covering your back.
Fly nets won’t win you a fashion award, however they are light and easy to carry. Most outback stores and roadhouses stock them. A small branch with leaves is another good fly swatting device.
7-Outback National Parks
Remote national parks and reserves provide fabulous camp sites and things to see. All Queensland park details are online, making it easy for more information.
There are 24 parks in outback Queensland and two of my favourite are Culgoa Floodplain National Park and Currawinya National Park which is about to double in size with the acquisition of three neighbouring properties. It’s also home to the bilby.
For more information on Queensland parks visit Queensland Parks and Wildlife
8-Plan, plan and plan and allow some extra time
Plan your trip ahead and know what is worth to explore along the way.
You don’t want to come home to discover that you have missed a landmark you always wanted to see and you drove past it.
Allow extra time for detours along the way, as there sure may be one (or two).
9-Have a flexible schedule on your Outback adventures
It’s a great idea to talk to others who have done a trip into the outback. Their experiences will probably save you some hassles.
If there is something they did not like then work out why before you leave to avoid it. Plan a few extra days in case a road is closed – usually due to rain – or you might fall in love with a certain area and decide to explore a little longer.
10-Drive to conditions and during the day
Avoid driving at night as kangaroos are very difficult to see and the last thing you want is to hit one and have an expensive trip to the panel beater when you get home. Or worse still, the damage to your car may not allow you continue your journey.
During the day emus, often referred to as bush chooks, run across the road and you may even see a lizard or snake basking on the warm roads. Wedge tail eagles are often seen gorging on road kill carcasses and they become so full they can hardly fly.
Always check road conditions before you set off on each leg. Roadhouses, police stations, fellow travellers and often the publican will be able to assist you.
Have an awesome trip!
Getting there and around is easy with flights, coaches, rail journeys and tours to choose from. Or maybe you take the wheel yourself. With the majority of towns linked by sealed roads this is a journey that could easily see you extending your tour and planning another before you are even finished.