Region: Far West and Outback

The people, places and wide-open spaces of Outback Queensland offer a holiday or travelling experience like few other regions in Australia can. From down-to-earth stockmen, to quiet fishing spots, to desert sand dunes, and even the odd dinosaur - there's nowhere quite like it.

Diversity is a key factor in the region having such a magnetic pull on the people who go there, so strong is that pull, many can't wait to go back and explore more of its vast landscape. The magnificent natural diversity of the Channel Country in the south west, the heritage-rich Matilda Country of the central west, and the ancient lands of the Dinosaur, Fossil and Mining Country in the north west has to be seen and experienced to understand the attraction of this remote corner of Outback Australia. The rocky terrain is harsh but beautiful, and the colours stark but striking. The outback sunsets are spectacular, hidden lakes and dams make for excellent freshwater fishing, and breathtaking gorges give up their treasures to fossickers.

North West Queensland

North West Queensland is a remote region which lies to the south of the Savannah Gulf Country. It landscape typify the common image of outback Queensland.

The main settlements in the region include the city of Mount Isa and the towns of Charters Towers, Hughenden, Richmond,  Cloncurry and Camooweal, Mt Isa, some 887 kms west of Townsville is the only major city in this part of the Outback. It has the largest silver and lead mine found in Australia, indeed the world. Places of interest there include the Outback at Isa where you can take mining tours and the Riversleigh Fossil Centre.

Cloncurry is the site of where the The Royal Flying Doctor Service was first launched, as well as the idea for Qantas. Sheep and cattle are the economic mainstay of the surrounding areas.

Major roads in the region include the Barkly Highway, Diamantina Developmental Road, Cloncurry – Dajarra Road, Gregory Development Road, Wills Developmental Road, Flinders Highway and Landsborough Highway.

Central West

Central West Queensland is a remote region covering an area of 396 650.2 km2, it typifies the common image of outback Queensland.

Within this region lies the eastern extent of the Simpson Desert lies within the region, the Channel Country and part of the Cooper Basin. This basin contains the most significant on-shore petroleum and natural gas deposits in Australia. Haddon Corner and Poeppel Corner on the Queensland border are also located here.

Major towns of Central West Queensland include Longreach, Winton, Blackall and Barcaldine. Barcaldine was the location for the 1891 Australian shearers’ strike, one of Australia’s earliest and most important industrial disputes. The Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame is a museum located in Longreach which pays tribute to pioneers of the Australian outback. The ghost town of Betoota has been designated as Australia’s smallest town.

Waterways coursing through Central West Queensland include the Barcoo River, Georgina River, Diamantina River, Thomson River, Burke River, Hamilton River and Cooper Creek.

A number of national parks have been declared in the region, including Simpson Desert National Park, Cudmore National Park, Diamantina National Park, Astrebla Downs National Park, Welford National Park, Goneaway National Park, Lochern National Park and Bladensburg National Park.

South West Queensland

A remote region, South West Queensland includes the Maranoa district and parts of Channel Country. The area is noted for its cattle grazing, cotton farming, opal mining and oil and gas deposits.

The northern extent of the Sturt Stony Desert lies within the region around the location known as Cameron Corner. Part of the Cooper Basin is located in the region. The basin contains the most significant on-shore petroleum and natural gas deposits in Australia. The Tookoonooka crater is a large impact crater located in the region, however it is not visible at the surface.

Major towns of South West Queensland include Charleville, Roma, Augathella, Windorah, Thargomindah, St George and Cunnamulla. Cunnamulla has the biggest wool-loading station on the Queensland railway network. Australia’s largest cotton farm, Cubbie Station near St George, covers 93,000 hectares.

Waterways coursing through South West Queensland include the Warrego, Maranoa, Merivale, Balonne and its tributary the Bokhara River, Culgoa, Wilson and Cooper Creek. The Balonne is used for an extensive irrigation network. The Bulloo River system is the only closed river system in Australia.

How To Get There

Outback Queensland is serviced by the Spirit of the Outback train from Brisbane via Rockhampton and The Inlander from Townsville. These terminate at Longreach and Mt Isa respecitively.

Numerous highways lead from the coastal communities to the Queensland outback. The most commonly used road from Brisbane is Warrego Highway, via Toowoomba and Dalby. From NSW, follow Leichhardt Highway north through Moree, or Bruxner Highway via Tenterfield.

Travel west on Dawson Highway from Gladstone; west on Capricorn Highway from Rockhampton; south-west on Flinders Highway from Townsville.

There are airports at Longreach, Mount Isa, Charleville, and Birdsville. Rail services also link most of the major towns. Coach services operate to all major Outback centres along the Overlander's Way from Townsville to Mount Isa, and on the Matilda Highway from Cunnamulla to Karumba. Most of Queensland's Outback is accessible by family sedan, and towns are usually no more than two hours apart. However without a 4WD you’ll miss plenty of opportunities to “go bush” and explore spectacular scenery

Best Time To Go

It is recommended that you visit between April and September, which are the cooler, drier months. Summer temperatures in the west can climb to over 40 °C, and high rainfalls can also occur in summer, followed quickly by floodwaters.

The further west you go, flooding can occur up to two weeks after rain in the catchment. Rain can fall at any time of year and even a small amount of rain can make roads impassable. Check with the RACQ  or local council offices for current road conditions before your trip.

The temperatures in the outback can climb to the extremes in the summer. Casual light clothes are recommended although temperatures can fall below 5 deg. C at night during winter. The wet season in the northern areas is from November to March. The best time to visit is from April to October when the days are cooler.

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