This outback driving route through western Queensland is the ultimate desert adventure in your Brisbane Airport car rental. There are lots of chances to go offroad – it’s best to take extra water and oil, and ensure your spare tyre and any other spare parts are in good shape. If heading onto the Birdsville Track or Simpson Desert National Park you may want to check road conditions beforehand.
Get an early start from Brisbane via the A15 route heading west. Stop in at Aratula at the foot of Cunningham’s Gap – this is the spot of a stone cairn memorial to the early explorers, in theMain Range National Park, and a good spot to get some air. Carry on over the ranges to Warwick, which makes for a good lunch spot, and then make the final drive to Goondiwindi. Sitting on the New South Wales border, at the intersection of six highways, this town is perhaps most well known for the statue of famous racehorse Gunsynd – the ‘Goondiwindi Grey’. Historic buildings, grain depots and the MacIntyre River are further highlights.
Today you’ll carry on through the Western Down region. A good place to stop for lunch is in St George at the Balonne River, before you head into the ever sparser outback areas. Those with an appetite for adventure and equipped with 4WD can detour to Culgoa Floodplain National Park, via various 4WD tracks, after St George. Otherwise carry on to Cunnamulla. At Bollon, look out for koalas in the trees along Wallan Creek. In Cunnamulla, the local heritage trail is a great way to get acquainted with the area, including the Robber’s Tree. There’s a sunset viewing deck along the Paroo Pioneer Pathways and Riverwalk.
Continue west until you reach Eulo; take a time out at a date farm or perhaps a winery (being sure to sample unique local date wines). Check out the Paroo Race Track where the annualWorld Lizard Racing Championships are held. At Yowah – a quick detour off the main road before Thargomindah – you can go fossicking for opals. At Thargomindah stroll the Bulloo River Walk and visit Leahy Historic House.
Today you cross the South Australian border to Innamincka – along the way you’ll see national icon The Dig Tree, a homage to a doomed explorer’s mission. The first half of this journey is sealed but the remainder is on unsealed roads, or 4WD tracks. Just before Innamincka, stop at the Aboriginal rock carvings at Cullyamurra Waterhole, which is atCooper Creek and also great for camping and fishing. Innamincka is a tiny town with apermanent population of about 12 residents but the Innamincka Regional Reserve, whichspans 1.3 million hectares is home to 200 species of birds, animals and reptiles.
There are no towns or accommodation between here and Birdsville; you may like to break up the journey with an overnight camping stop though, which you should plan ahead for. It’s important to bring enough supplies and petrol to last you the trip. Once you reach Birdsville, enjoy a drink at the iconic Birdsville Pub. Birdsville is a small outback town on the banks of the Diamantina River between the Simpson Desert and Sturts Stony Desert. It has a rich Aboriginal and European history, but it’s most famous for the annual Birdsville horse races in September, which brings thousands of people into town.