‘Travel west young man’ was an adage used in the past to entice folks into the outback – a world full of adventure and mystery.. Today, travel west and your journey will still be filled with adventure but luckily, you don’t have to take the rutted bush tracks of the past.
The Warrego Way starts at the Sunshine State’s capital, Brisbane, and finishes in the iconic and remote Birdsville. Along the way, you can see ancient trees from the dinosaur age, endangered mammals, unwind in the soothing waters from the sub artesian basin, delight in yarns told over country bars, or just relax and enjoy the brilliant sunsets and starry nights.
Watch the city skyline of Brisbane disappear behind you as you enter the city that almost stole Brisbane’s capital status – Ipswich.
Historic Ipswich, Queensland’s oldest provincial city, oozes with charm in its sprawling gardens and magnificent private and public buildings. Ipswich was once a thriving river port and the wealth generated by its pioneers is clearly reflected in the grand early nineteenth century architecture.
The next stop on your journey along the Warrego sits right on top of the Great Dividing Range; Toowoomba.
Once at the top, you’re in Toowoomba, Queensland’s Garden City. The distinctive seasons and fertile soils have given rise to a city filled with over 150 wonderful gardens and parks. Many follow themes such as the Scented Garden and Japanese Garden. Toowoomba puts on a sensational show of colour in springtime.
Once out of Toowoomba the paddocks open up and you are now well and truly in the Darling Downs.
Continue on to Dalby, the hub of Australia’s richest grain and cotton growing area. The Thomas Jack Park should be your first point of call. From Dalby it’s a drive of 83 kilometres to Chinchilla.
Chinchilla, now well known for it’s biannual Melon Festival, is also a favourite destination for petrified wood fossickers. Lapidary enthusiasts just love the specimens from this district, called ‘Chinchilla Red’, due to their unique beauty and intricate patterns.
Visit the Chinchilla White Gums, a beautifully tall and straight eucalypt native to this area. The next stop, Miles, is only 45 kilometres further.
Think of Miles and think of wildflowers. When the season is favourable, the Murilla shire bursts into bloom.
Then, welcome to Roma, the home of the ‘Big Rig’ and the gateway to cattle country. Every Tuesday and Thursday you can join in the excitement at the Roma Saleyards, which is the biggest cattle selling facility in the southern hemisphere. With special catwalks for visitors to see all the action, there’s arguably nowhere else you can have such an experience.
Mitchell is where many say the outback begins. One of the most worthwhile attractions in Mitchell is the Great Artesian Spa, the largest open-air spa in Australia. Let the high mineral content of the water from the Great Artesian Basin relax and revitalise you. Many travel here for its therapeutic benefits.
Roll on to Charleville, immortalised in Slim Dusty’s song by the same name. Schedule a couple of days here and enjoy the diverse attractions.
Hear the sound of the didgeridoo and watch Aboriginal artists at work at the C.D.E.P. centre; visit the grand old Hotel Corones, the biggest outback pub in Australia, with its resident ghost; and at night take in the star-studded outback night sky at the Cosmos Centre.
Quilpie is a 210 kilometre drive from Charleville along the Warrego Way. Those ready for action can spend the day fossicking for opals, climb and explore Baldy Top and Table Top Lookouts or go for a drive through the endless landscape that is Australia’s outback.
From Quilpie you have the option of taking a short 108km detour along the fully sealed Cooper Developmental road (79A) to Eromanga.
Eromanga is home to the internationally recognised Eromanga Natural History Museum where you can meet Australia’s largest dinosaurs including ‘Cooper’ and ‘George’, who are in the top 10 largest dinosaurs in the world.
It is easy to spend a day or more in and around Eromanga. Visit the Living History Centre close to one of Australia’s iconic outback pubs, the Eromanga Royal Hotel est. 1885, Knot-a-saurus and Opalopolis Park and enjoy a picnic near the famous Kyabra waterhole. The fully sealed Kyabra Road will connect you back onto the Warrego Way to continue your journey.
Windorah is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘big fish’, which is fitting given that there are huge yellowbelly cruising the depths of the Cooper Creek near Windorah. Windorah is smack bang in the middle of the channel country, a fertile area of grazing land that produces some of the world’s best beef cattle.
Hit the gravel road to your destination Birdsville, Australia’s iconic ‘must visit’ town. The town is a hub for intrepid travellers heading across the Simpson Desert, the largest area of parallel sand dunes in the world. Sit atop the 40 metre high ‘Big Red’, the biggest sand dune on the eastern edge of the desert, and watch four-wheel-drivers take on the challenge of the steep and sandy tracks.
Sit beneath a roof covered in the weathered Akubras of people who have done the ‘hard yards’ in Birdsville for at least one year at the Birdsville Hotel after scoffing a unique ‘curried camel’ or ‘kangaroo claret’ pie at the Birdsville Bakery. The Wirrarri Visitor Information Centre offers a historical display and the bank of the Diamantina River is a fantastic spot for fishing or enjoying a picnic.
Visit the extremely rare Waddi trees, which only grow in three places in the world and, if you’re lucky enough to time your visit with one of the many annual events, witness incredible displays of horsemanship at the gymkhanas, rodeos, bronco branding and race meets in the Diamantina shire. The famous Birdsville Races and Big Red Bash both attract thousands of people to town each year.