A quote found on Facebook recently:
“Europeans….I drove 20 minutes and now I’m in France. Australians….I drove 20 minutes and now I’m at the end of my drive way”.
So True. There are some spectacular places in Outback Australia, however you do need to be prepared to travel to get there.
The last two weeks provide some examples of the distances I travel for business, family and friends.
As a volunteer board member on the Outback Queensland Tourism Association (OQTA) I was required to travel from my home town of Roma in Queensland five hours west to Quilpie for a Board meeting. And I’m still nowhere near the South Australia or Northern Territory border.
The Outback covers a huge area – the furthest distance between our board members on the OQTA is 1,347 kilometres (or a 14.5 hour drive without stops). This is why we normally use technology like “zoom”, so we don’t have to leave home. Or when we do have a face-to-face meeting we generally catch up Queensland’s capital, Brisbane as it is easier, quicker and more cost effective for all members to converge in this one centre. However this particular time it was decided to have our meeting in region, which was great.
While it didn’t take any convincing I talked my husband Craig into taking a couple of days off work to come with me on this trip and visit a few Outback Queensland icons along the way.
Here’s a recommendation: Book an Awesome BOOBOOK Ecotour in advance, fly into Roma (an hours flight from Brisbane) and go on a day trip of a lifetime (check out the website: www.boobooktours.com). Our experienced guides (who are also professional ecologists and great fun) will take you to some gorgeous and fascinating places off the beaten track on private farming properties that few get a chance to see. There are also lots of wonderful accommodation options in Roma.
After you’ve experienced all Roma has to offer we suggest hiring a car in Roma.
Travelling west from Roma on good roads there’s the hot springs in Mitchell, Bilby Experience at the Information Centre and Cosmos Centre Observatory in Charleville – all definitely worth a visit. There’s the Natural History Museum in Eromanga and a lovely art gallery in Quilpie, as well as Hell Hole Gorge National Park north of Quilpie and Mariala National Park east of Adavale (four wheel drive vehicle recommended here). FYI – there is no fuel available in Adavale. Then back to Charleville and you can fly back to Brisbane from there to save a little driving time.
I wholeheartedly recommend a trip to the Natural History Museum located on the outskirts of Eromanga, which has now set up four-star motel rooms on the site. A fabulous place to begin your dinosaur journey through Outback Queensland. It is home to Australia’s largest fossilised dinosaur, and is somewhere you can learn to dig for bones of dinosaurs and megafauna, as well as housing micro-fossils from the local area. Their tours are very informative – you can hear the passion in their guide’s voices as you begin to understand the depth of their discoveries. There is some much to unearth and discover here – the work will continue for generations to come.
On the way home Craig and I dropped into Hell Hole Gorge NP, aptly named because of the difficulty to retrieve sheep or cattle out of it during mustering when it was a pastoral holding. We drove into the location after dark, which was a bit of an adventure, however the track was well signposted and marked. We threw out the swags and were delighted to be there to see the sunrise over the red dirt and rocky outcrop before going on a walk to explore the gorges with awesome waterholes fringed by stately River Red Gums. Being surrounded by dry, open mulga ridges the waterhole is a great spot for the locals to drink – these being the birds and other animals, of course. We woke to see the beautiful pastel blue and pinks of Bourke Parrots as they flew overhead, followed by hearing the ‘squeaky gate’ call of the red-tailed black cockatoos as they moseyed down to the waterhole for a drink. Darters and cormorants were fishing in the water, while herons prowled around the edges looking for crayfish or other tasty morsels. Flocks of budgies zoomed past with flashes of bright green. Unfortunately, the Yellow-footed Rock-Wallabies that are resident in the park eluded us – we’ll just have to go back!
We returned home for a night after stopping to photograph a few iconic Outback critters along the way including red kangaroos, emus and Major Mitchell cockatoos. But by far the most entertaining was a Centralian Blue Tongue lizard that got a little sick of a camera being stuck in his face, leaping off the ground to latch onto Craig’s finger. No skin broken. As its name suggests this lizard is more commonly seen in the deserts of central Australia – it’s right at the eastern edge of its range, where we saw it near Quilpie.
After arriving home for one night, the next day I was off again, travelling another four hours, east this time for one of my sons to participate in a touch football final. This was followed by another two hours further east (to the Sunshine Coast) for training in a representative team before heading west again and back home after another six hours driving.
Crazy – perhaps. Committed – absolutely. It is great for the kids to meet and socialise with other people and realise there is a much bigger world out there.
These days the roads are pretty good and there are places like Roma in Outback Queensland, where our BOOBOOK Ecotours is located only a one hour flight from Brisbane.
You’ve got to come see for yourself. I highly recommend adding Outback Queensland – Roma, Charleville, Quilpie and Eromanga to your bucket list – knowing that you don’t have to sleep in a swag under the stars if you don’t want to – there are plenty of motels and other accommodation options out there. Just plan ahead.
By Meryl Eddie, BOOBOOK Business Manager