Let's start south, just below the New South Wales border. Bourke is a town written into the folklore of Australian history by the likes of Will Ogilvie and Henry Lawson - gateway to Queensland's Outback it is the starting point for the famed Matilda Highway which runs the length of Queensland from the boarder town of Barringun to the gulf port of Karumba.
Barringun was once a thriving town serviced by four hotels, and a wide variety of other shops. It was a thoroughfare for people passing through from the reaches of the Darling Downs and across into western NSW and Queensland. Today it is a one pub town – population less than a half dozen, yet an intriguing entry into western Queensland.
From Barringun to Cunnamulla you follow the course of the Warrego River – fantastic for fishing and picturesque to boot – just be sure to check the rules and regulations for fishing in Queensland before you go visit www.deedi.qld.gov.au and follow the links to fisheries.
Cunnamulla was once an important stock and communications route, a place with a wild reputation – a frontier town. Today it sits prettily on the banks of the Warrego River and the days of bar room brawls are long gone – best known for 'The Cunnamulla Fella' immortalized by Slim Dusty in song.
Charleville is the next stop – where you can hold a falling star in the palm of your hands. The Cosmos Centre & Observatory offers a unique experience, through powerful telescopes you can view the heavens and learn about ancient stargazers and the planets above. Also, visit with the endangered Bilby and meet the volunteers who are working to ensure the survival of this iconic Australian marsupial.
Further north, the town of Augathella is home to one of the newest attractions in Queensland's Outback a 5 metre long giant meat ant – representing the tenacity of the local football teams. Augathella is also the birthplace of the original 'Smiley' stories and movies and has a proud history of bullockies, squatters and bushrangers.
Continue to Tambo most famous for it's Tambo Teddies. First settled in 1863 Tambo is the oldest town of the west and the many historic facades lend the local community an air of nostalgia for the times past.
The most sought after commodity of the Blackall district was for years Merino Sheep – these days the local industry is more diversified and includes beef cattle and tourism. In fact one of the mainstays has been the massive steam-driven Woolscour, a fine example of Outback ingenuity and the only one of its kind remaining in operation – although these days it runs as a tourist attraction rather than to process the districts merino wool.
Site of the Great Shearers Strike of 1891, Barcaldine is immortalised as the birthplace of the Australian Labour Party – the strike was held beneath the shade of an old ghost gum 'The Tree of Knowledge' for which a monumental memorial now stands in the main street of town.
Turning east from Barcaldine you will arrive at the small community of Ilfracombe where a number of quirky old collections showcase an eye popping array of artefacts from bottle tops to farm machinery, military uniforms to that icon of Australia Akubras.
Just down the road (literally), lies the geographically central town of Longreach a hub for the communities of Western Queensland and home to many iconic attractions including; the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame and the Qantas Founders Museum. Longreach is also a great base from which to visit one of the many National Parks – Lochern, Welford for the more adventurous or for something closer to town drive out to Lilly Lagoon and Starlight's Lookout, north east of town off the Muttaburra Road.
Longreach to Winton is an easy 2 hours drive but, you'll notice a real shift in the landscape – Jump Up's (rugged little escarpments) dot the Winton landscape, once the edge of an inland sea the town marks the start of a rich fossil trail between the communities of Winton, Hughenden and Richmond but, also extending into the northern and far western reaches of Queensland. Visit the Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackways and the Waltzing Matilda Centre – museum to a song.
Kynuna, established in the 1860's as a staging post for Cobb & Co, is the next stop. It's famous Blue Heeler Hotel has a reputation for fun and features in many guide books. From Kynuna drive to McKinlay and another famous watering hole – this one, the Walkabout Creek Hotel featured in the classic Australian film 'Crocodile Dundee'.
North-east of the small community of McKinlay is the town of Cloncurry. “The Curry” as it's affectionately known, is the birthplace of the Royal flying Doctor Service and was the destination of the very first Qantas flight. A mineral rich region mining is one of the largest employers and biggest industries. Quamby is the next stop as you continue north, little more than a pub it is best know for its annual rodeo held each July.
From the Burke and Wills Junction detour to Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park a breathtakingly beautiful Park on the Queensland - Northern Territory border or continue direct to Normanton and Karumba your final destination – both towns offering an amazing array of wildlife including brolgas, black swans and salt water crocs, and a welcome retreat after a long and yet enormously rewarding journey through the heart of the Outback.
In summary then, visit the Queensland's Outback for it's people and places, it's wide open spaces – a retreat from the everyday and an experience of a lifetime!
Name: Tourism and Events Queensland
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