In Travel Bloggers on Sunday 24th Feb, 2019

An adventure that will have you taking the road to Birdsville

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Peter ‘Spida’ Everitt and his wife Sheree (who you might know from The Great Australian Doorstep TV show) run fully escorted motorhome convoy tours in Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and Alaska. Here, Spida takes us to Birdsville, Queensland.

This is the road to the Birdsville Races! A wander through outback Queensland is a chance to walk in the footsteps of ancient peoples and pioneer heroes. Experience a sky that reaches all the way to the horizon, and flame red dirt that never leaves your boots. Feel Australia in your bones, let it hit you in the guts and knock your dusty socks off. Get out there and carve your own story in tyre tracks on an adventure that’s unlike any other. An outback Queensland adventure holiday will change your story forever!

Our journey kicks off at the Gold Coast, via Brisbane – in peak hour too might I add – and heads west to Toowoomba. We have the Isuzu D-Max four-wheel drive and our Jayco offroad camper trailer in tow.

Our first stop is Picnic Point in Toowoomba for morning tea.  A unique setting with superb views from here to… Well, forever! Picnic Point Lookout is situated about 700 metres above sea level and is perched high on the crest of the Great Dividing Range. It overlooks Main Range and the Lockyer Valley. It is the perfect place to park up, stretch your legs and enjoy great food. The café and adjacent restaurant provide the best in coffees, teas, hot chocolates and café style food.

From Toowoomba we head to Goondiwindi, which is an easy drive thanks to great roads. Goondiwindi is a great little town, sitting at the junction of five major highways. The town is known for being the home of Gunsynd, the famous race horse, and in addition to have his very own statue and museum at the town information centre, you’ll find a number of murals around the town bear his image.

From Goondiwindi we travel a further 1.5 hours to Nindigully and acquaint ourselves with Queensland’s oldest hotel located in its original condition, the Nindigully Hotel and Pub. It’s positioned on the banks of the Moonie River and despite having a constant population of around nine people, The Gully (as it is affectionately known), attracts tourists and locals from the surrounding area for a beer and a meal. The license was issued in 1864 after operating as shearer’s accommodation for the Nindigully Station.  It brewed its own beer and spirits before XXXX and Bundaberg Rum even existed.

Our first overnight is at St George, Queensland. An overnight stay is a must, but your plans don’t allow for that, at least call in for a meal. There is plenty of room for caravans and campers to set up for a few days or longer.

We hit the orange dirt of the outback. It’s a good idea that when you are travelling in outback Australia you always remember to plan your rest stops and places to refuel your body.

The ever-changing landscape, the diversity of the animal life and of course the locals you will meet along the way make for a fun-filled adventure.We stopped overnight in Cunnamulla, a small town that lies on the banks of the Warrego River, 200 kilometres south of Charleville and roughly 800km west of Brisbane. Cunnamulla is known for its famous character the Cunnamulla Fella, brought to life by Stan Coster lyrics and later immortalised in song of the same name by the late Slim Dusty.

After a big day in the outback nothing beats a glass of wine by the campfire! However, for a reasonable fee you can also indulge in an artesian mud bath at Eulo. Stretch out in one of their single tubs and sip on your wine for a truly relaxing experience. I recommend stocking up on their moisturisers and face masks while you are there!

The single tubs all ready for a mud bath at Eulo's Artesian Mud Baths. Source: Great Australian Doorstep
The single tubs all ready for a mud bath at Eulo’s Artesian Mud Baths. Source: Great Australian Doorstep

The Burke and Wills Dig Tree located on the northern bank of Cooper Creek is one of Australia’s national icons. It is a reminder of pioneering spirit and how the Australian outback can be a harsh place.

Nappa Merrie Station manages the site on behalf of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland. If trees could talk they would tell of the tales of the early explorers and the memories of Australia’s past. In 1898, John Dick carved Burke’s face into the Face Tree, 30m downstream of the Dig Tree.  Steeped in history and Australian beauty, the Dig Tree site is an inspiring place to visit.

The carving of Burke's face in the 'Face Tree' in outback Queensland. Source: Great Australian Doorstep
The carving of Burke’s face in the ‘Face Tree’ in outback Queensland. Source: Great Australian Doorstep

Our next overnight stop is at Innamincka. A fascinating outback destination with a permanent population of about 12 residents. It’s nestled near the Cooper Creek and is roughly 1,400km west of Brisbane. In fact, it’s close to Adelaide (1,065km) and 459km from Lyndhurst up the Strzelecki Track.

You can camp along the creek, which has good fishing and canoeing, or check into the local hotel for a well-earned rest. Tourist information and park passes are also available at the Innamincka Hotel. Supplies can be purchased from the hotel or general store and, of course, they have their own petrol station. It is a tiny settlement in the state’s Channel Country, surrounded by the Strzelecki, Tirari and Sturt Stony Deserts.

The Innamincka Hotel at Innamincka. Source: Great Australian Doorstep
The Innamincka Hotel at Innamincka. Source: Great Australian Doorstep

 This is where the fun begins. From here on in we are 100 per cent off-road, starting with the Walkers Crossing Track! There are no road signs and no bitumen. It’s time to let the tyres down for sand and dirt driving and have some fun.

Walkers Crossing is a designated Public Access Route owned by the local station owner who so very kindly allows tourists to pass through his property as an alternative route from Innamincka to Birdsville. We found it remarkably easy to tackle, however, I am sure after the rains come this would be different.

I recommend checking the road and track conditions before you leave. If you need rescuing out here, you are also putting other peoples lives in danger. Always be prepared, and be very aware of your surroundings. Advise your next accommodation stop of what time to expect you and what your plans are.  Remember that this is an unforgiving area and lives can be lost very easily. As long as you are prepared, then I can assure you, you will have the absolute best trip ever!

The holy grail of outback Queensland holidays is the Birdsville Track! With only 4 hours to go until we hit the town of Birdsville, we are incredibly excited to take part Australia’s most iconic outback festival, The Birdsville Races.

We've reached the Birdsville Track! Source: Great Australian Doorstep
We’ve reached the Birdsville Track! Source: Great Australian Doorstep

Birdsville is remarkable. It has a certain air about it; an air of excitement, mystery and of course pure Australian grit. The people of Birdsville work the land like nowhere else in the world. Meeting the locals has changed my way of thinking forever. I didn’t know hard work, stamina and mental toughness until I spoke with some of the folk that call this place ‘home’.

The number one port of call though, has to be the Birdsville Pub.  It’s a destination in itself, a place where yarns have been spun for more than a century by characters as colourful as the surrounding desert.

For the Birdsville Races, the town swells to more than 7,000 visitors the first weekend in September each and every year.  We had so much fun meeting people, having a few quiet drinks and enjoying meals with complete strangers. 

Birdsville's population swells when the annual festival and races roll around. Source: Great Australian Doorstep
Birdsville’s population swells when the annual festival and races roll around. Source: Great Australian Doorstep

After cleaning off the red dust from my stiletos it is race day and time to glam up.  Everyone makes a huge effort and I am reminded of how difficult it would be to get some of these outfits delivered. The women know fashion well and it’s great to see the guys getting involved too.

The first race meeting at Birdsville was held in 1882 and now includes a 13-race program and prize money of $200,000. The Birdsville Cup is a much sought after trophy and is famous throughout the world.

You will enjoy two days of quality outback horse racing and three great nights of live music and entertainment. Other entertainment includes the Royal Flying Doctor Service Cocktail Party, RFDS Fun Run, Fashions on the Field, Fred Brophy’s Boxing Troupe, a large variety of food vendors, and so much more.

Great entertainment, class horseracing and premium hospitality makes for a fantastic week in the heart of Australia’s Queensland Outback

The Great Australian Doorstep is on Channel 7Two on Saturday afternoons, or tune in to the radio show every weekend across the TripleM and FlowFM networks – 68 stations, Australia-wide.

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