Camperman: Campervan Hire Australia

Australian Outback

 

Queensland Outback Drive

1,500 km (plus detours) – 5 days or more

Part of this road trip (from Cunnamulla to Karumba) is know as the Matilda Way. The tour meanders through the unique landscapes of Australia’s outback before returning east to the tropical coastal city of Townsville and the Great Barrier Reef. 
The nearest city to Cunnamulla is Brisbane (788 kms and 9.5 hours away). The Brisbane to Cunnamulla Drive joins this road trip.

If you are hiring a campervan from Camperman, you can  pick it up from 
Brisbane, the Gold Coast or Sydney and drop it off in Townsville (or vice versa). There are a range of road trips you can add on to this one. But more about that at the end of the article.

Outback Road Etiquette

If a truck approaches while travelling the outback roads, it is polite (and sensible) to pull over onto the side of the road and wait for it to pass. The trucker will thank you for it and you’ll protect your windscreen from flying rocks.

Cunnamulla to Townsville Itinerary

Cunnamulla to Tambo: 400 km | 4 hr
Tambo to Longreach: 315 km | 3 hr 15 min
Longreach to Hughendon: 390 km | 4 hr
Hughendon to Townsville: 385km | 4 hr

Cunnamulla

Here begins the Matilda Way. Cunnamulla is an outback town where the handshake is stronger and the smile lasts longer – according to the locals. Slim Dusty put the town on the map with his song Cunnamulla Fella. The town honored him by erecting a bronze Slim Dusty statue in their main street. They also celebrate country music and outback culture with a Cunnamulla Fella Festival each November. 

  • Start your exploration at the Cunammulla Fella Centre and grab some maps.
  • Check out the art gallery.
  • Take a walk on the Heritage Trail to learn about the towns opal mining, pastoral, and wool production history.
  • Spot wildlife on the riverside walk.

cunnamulla

Charleville

Charleville has strong links with aviation history through Qantas and the pioneering Smith brothers. 

charleville abc
Charleville Historic House. Photo: ABC

Tambo

Tambo Library is housed in a charming yellow and white historic house which doubles as the Tourist Information Centre. Here you can pick up maps for the Heritage Walk and Coolibah Walk. Tambo is also home to the Grassland Art Gallery.

There are two caravan parks in Tambo, one has a saltwater swimming pool.

Blackhall

Blackall on the Barcoo River, has the pretty Five Mile Water Hole which is good for fishing. 

  • While here you can learn the history of the region’s wool trade at Woolscour  
  • Visit the site of the original Black Stump. Anything west of here was considered, by Australians, to be ‘beyond the black stump’ also known as the ‘back of beyond’ or ‘out woop woop’
  • If you’ve worked up a sweat, chill out at Blackall’s outdoor Aquatic Centre
  • Stroll through town admiring the sculptures and the buggy display
  • Make a wish at the wishing well
  • Visit Idalia National Park
  • See a fossilised stump that is believed to be somewhere between 1 million and 225 million years old!

blackhall sculpture rolypoly

blackhall sculpture nest

Barcaldine

Barcaldine is the site of the revolutionary 1891 Shearers’ Strike. 

  • There’s a folk museum, heritage centre and many historic buildings. 
  • Not far from here is Black’s Palace, an Aboriginal site with burial caves and impressive rock paintings.

Detours

Detour the 100 km round trip to Starlight’s Lookout for sweeping views across the outback and plains. Then head back down to Longreach.

A 522 km (8 hr 40 min) detour between Blackall and Longreach will take in three national parks.

  1. Idalia National Park protects dense molga woodlands, craggy escarpments, great views, and several macropod (kangaroo and wallaby) species.
  2. Welford National Park is a little further on, has campervan-friendly campsites, red sand dunes, spinifex, ghost gums and river red gums.
  3. Lochern National Park, 150 km South West of Longreach, also has campervan friendly campsites. After the rain the parched channels will have transformed into wetlands teeming with life.

welford john augusteyn
Welford National Park. Photo: John Augusteyn

Longreach

Longreach is an outback town brimming with things to see and do so you may wish to spend a whole day here. 

  • Visit the Qantas Founders Museum and tour their first passenger Boeing jet. 
  • Jump on a Cobb and Co stage coach for an award-winning and highly acclaimed tour of town 
  •  cruise the Thompson River aboard a paddle steamer. 
  • The lush Lily Lagoon gives your eyes some respite from the dry outback landscapes. 
  • The Stockman Hall of Fame, and the Powerhouse Museum will provide you with history and local culture. 
  • The Inginai Nature Reserve, named after the Traditional Owners, has some pretty walks so you can enjoy the local flora and fauna.

If you made it to Longreach, pull up at the free campground beside Thompson River for the night. It’s a little out of town heading north. You may wish to spend two nights at Longreach so that you can give the town a full day (or more). But no matter where you spend the night, spread a picnic rug so you can lie back and star gaze miles from the city lights.

The Matilda Way ends here.

Winton

Winton is the town closest to Lark Quarry (110km, a two-hour drive) where hundreds of dinosaur footprints can be seen. You can fossick for opals, visit Arno’s Wall – a peculiar construction of rock, opal, and tractor parts -  and take in the views of Cawnpare Lookout. Winton is also very near Bladensburg National Park, a place of raw beauty, red rocks, stunning views from flat-topped mesas, grassy plains and river flats. 

bladensburg travelling australia info
The views from Bladensburg National Park. Photo: TravellingAustralia.info

Hughendon

Hughendon is part of Australia’s Dinosaur Trail. Its volcanic mountains and sweeping black-soil plains are rich in fossils and dinosaur areas. Start your visit at the Flinders Discovery Centre where you can meet “Hughie” the seven meter tall Muttahurrasaurus and view the fossil collection. If you follow the windmill blades through town they will lead you to the historical and cultural features of Hughendon. Enjoy a picnic at one of the four parks in town – all have toilets and picnic facilities.

For great views, drive to Mount Walker or visit the Porcupine National Park – Queensland’s little Grand Canyon. With its clear creek, vibrant sandstone cliffs, and dense vegetation it provides a striking contrast to the dry flat plains that surround it.

There’s a campervan-friendly campground at Pyramid Lookout. (Compost toilets, bring your own water, permits at the Flinders Discovery Centre). 

porcupine gorge australiasdinasaurtrail
Porcupine Gorge. Photo: Australias Dinosaur Trail

White Mountain National Park

On your way through Prairie, stop for a cold drink or a cuppa at the haunted Prairie Hotel. The owners have created a unique atmosphere with their collection of stockman’s hats and other memorabilia.

White Mountains National Park has diverse landscapes of white sandstone bluffs and gorges, brilliant wildflowers, lancewood forests and sand dunes. Camping is available for campervans during the dry season, but during wet season (Nov – April) roads might be inaccessible.

white mountains cairnsunlimted
Views from White Mountains National Park. Photo: Cairns Unlimited

Charters Towers

Charters Towers enjoyed a rich and heady hey day during the gold rush. Victorian mansions with iron-lacework verandas and imposing public buildings still stand as a reminder. The handsome Stock Exchange Arcade building was built in 1887 and restored in 1972. Today it houses the National Trust office, a tourist office, a couple of galleries and shops, and a mining museum. The Zara Clark Museum, has an interesting collection on transport and lifestyle in the early Charter Towers. Explore gold mining at the Venus Battery and take a Texas Longhorn wagon tour of town.

Your next stop is the coastal city of Townsville. There are so many day trips and things to do in Townsville that we've dedicated separate articles to them.

Map of the Queensland Outback Drive

Add on Road Trips

If you feel like the adventure has just begun, there are plenty of road trips that you can add on to this one. All those listed below have Camperman drop off points.

From Brisbane

From Townsville

Map of Australia Road Trips

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Campervan Hire Depots

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Queensland 4870 Phone: 1800 216 223

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Victoria 3058 Phone: 1800 216 223

Sydney

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Sydney, NSW 2229 Phone: 1800 216 223

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Queensland 4814 Phone: 1800 216 223

 

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