How to plan your trip to Outback Queensland
There’s no better way to live large and discover the true character of Australia than to plan a trip to Outback Queensland. After all, the region eats up the largest chunk of the Queensland map and spreads itself from the red sands of the Simpson Desert (Munga-Thirri National Park) almost to the reaches of the coastline.
But if that sounds daunting, it needn’t. Once you start to dig below the surface you’ll find it’s easy to plan your trip to the Aussie Outback, whether its endless plains, mirage-like national parks, real-life cowboy experiences, or rural charm are the things that stir your soul.
Click “buy now” on that Akubra and read this handy guide to prep for your first Outback adventure.
It’s easy to make assumptions about the Outback, but we bet you’ve got these six things wrong.
Like one giant outdoor classroom that’s just as educational for big kids as little ones, Outback Queensland is packing plenty of history, drama, science and geology lessons for astute wanderers. You can visit the birthplace of Qantas, drink in the bar where Banjo Paterson first performed Waltzing Matilda, and see evidence of a dinosaur stampede with your own two eyes.
Still need convincing? Here’s six reasons to visit the Outback.
When to go
In short, not over summer if you can help it. The Outback is essentially ‘closed’ over the hottest months of the year (take a fly net if you’re braving it!) with the most comfortable temperatures enjoyed between April and October.
And remember, even though the days can be scorching, between April and August you might find yourself shivering through sub-zero nights, so pack accordingly.
First-time? There’s no better excuse for an Outback road trip than grabbing yourself a ticket to one of the many iconic events that take place throughout the year. Events like the Birdsville Races, Mount Isa Rodeo, and the Outback’s answer to the Sundance Film Festival in Winton are all bucket list-worthy. But there’s also a list as long as your arm of quirkier events, with everything from yabby races to bog snorkelling at the Julia Creek Dirt and Dust Festival.
What to do there
No matter your age, fitness level or budget, there’s an Outback experience with your name on it. You can dig up a dino – or a precious gem – go stand-up paddleboarding in an Outback oasis, or dance the night away at the world’s most remote music festival.
The best way to experience the Outback, however, is by clocking up the kilometres on one of the ready-made drive routes. Ensuring, of course, you leave plenty of time for a yarn with local characters in the pubs you’ll stop, sleep and dine in along the way.
Where to eat and drink
While some of the best food experiences in the Outback might come from your own campfire, you won’t go hungry in the heartland of paddock-to-plate cuisine.
To hunt down the Outback’s most iconic meat pie through to local Indigenous coffee, here’s a list we prepared earlier. We promise it’s not all crumbed steaks and parmigianas either.
Where to stay
While camping and caravanning might be the way most visitors choose to stay in Outback Queensland, no two campsites are the same. Camping and caravanning experiences run from simple off-grid sites on a secluded river bank through to holiday parks complete with swimming pools and jumping pillows.
For next-level glamping, live the life of a jackaroo or jillaroo – or just kick back in your 1000-thread count sheets and gaze at the epic vistas – with an Outback station stay.
Once you’ve nutted out your destinations, check out a list of accommodation options here.
Best day trips to take
Your day-trip radius will really depend on where you’re basing yourself for the night, since there can be thousands of kilometres between some major towns.
Pack your hiking boots and sense of adventure to explore natural wonders like Cobbold Gorge, Boojamulla National Park, and Porcupine Gorge National Park – all worthy of at least a day out of your itinerary.
Things you need to know
Road safety is a big deal in Outback Queensland and you’ll need your wits about you with our native wildlife. It’s advised to avoid driving between dusk and dawn when the locals (‘roos) are most active.
A UHF radio is a good precaution and if nothing else, the trucker-chat you’ll get to listen to is the best talk-back radio show you’ll probably ever hear. Use the radio to communicate with road trains in front of you if overtaking, and remember to give them a wide berth to avoid stone chips to your paintwork and windscreen.
Of course, if you’re short on time, you could always FIFO it (fly in, fly out) with this tour.
The Outback may have been in drought for years, but that doesn’t mean there’s no water to clean your teeth or wash your face. The Outback sits atop the Great Artesian Basin, which pumps mineral rich water out at over 60 degrees to cooling plants before it reaches your tap or shower head.
Temperature controlled showers are just one benefit – the other is water certainty. If you’re planning on going to an Outback event like Big Red Bash and are worried about a cold hair wash, you’ll be happy to know you’re never going to run out of hot water mid-shampoo, even if the shower queue is 50-people deep.