You know you’ve truly ‘done’ the outback once you’ve ticked these quintessential experiences off your bucket list.
Outback Queensland dishes up unbridled freedom and glorious solitude – just 88,000 people live in more than 1.1 million square kilometres, which means there’s plenty of wide open spaces for you to lose yourself in. (You and the 791,999 like-minded wanderers who travel to the Outback each year.)
Just what does that much space look like? Well, the outback makes up more than half of Queensland – 65% to be exact. Out here it’s not so much about architecture or Michelin star culinary delights, it’s the landscape that captivates you; its ever-changing terrain and surprising parks, gorges and waterholes catching you by the heart strings. There’s something in the atmosphere.
Whether you’re considering getting off the beaten (coastal) track or you’re already headed for the heart of Australia, here’s how to maximise your time in Outback Queensland.
Events worth the pilgrimage
Races, rodeos, fishing, camp oven cook-offs… there’s a distinctly Aussie flavour to the outback events calendar. But what really makes these events bigger blockbusters than any regular music festival or race day in the cities is the people you’ll meet – locals from the communities who band together to organise these events and other travellers on the same wavelength as you.
Not that you need an excuse to head to the Outback, but if you did, planning a pilgrimage to iconic events like the Birdsville Races or Mount Isa Mines Rodeo sets the bullseye on your map, then it’s up to you how to make your way there. Far from being the hottest trend or latest fad, these events aren’t just breeze in, breeze out affairs, they’re institutions, running for decades, and generations, year on year to rapturous crowds.
It should almost be a rite of passage for every Australian to experience the Birdsville Races at least once in their life – when the population of Birdsville swells from 100 to over 7000 and there’s nothing more Australian than draining a tinnie outside the pub with red dust underfoot.
Taking the family on a wild west expedition is rewarded with events like the Winton Outback Festival, which will celebrate its 25th biennial festival in 2019.
Just because you’re in the Outback doesn’t mean it’s all Blundstones and Akubras. Pack your black-tie best if you’re headed for Roma’s Picnic Races – the social side of the event almost out-shadows the geldings on the track.
But then there’s the weird, wonderful and downright wacky events that give the Outback its special Australian flavour: Can you really say you’ve lived until you’ve been bog snorkelling and entered the best butts competition at Julia Creek Dirt n Dust Festival?