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Travel Queensland

Discover the Matilda Highway and the Channel Country


Travel Queensland and discover the diverse and stunning Outback landscapes in central & western Queensland. It is here where Australian icons, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Australia's national airline Qantas, were born.

tree & pole in a lonely landscape
Between Longreach and Windorah

For overseas visitors (and Australians as well) the destination Queensland is well-known for the Barrier Reef, wonderful beaches, and dream islands.
But there is much more the sunshine state has to offer for your Queensland holidays. Guess what? More Australian Outback, yes!

Unique country towns invite you to discover the cultural heritage and meet the friendly locals. The diverse landscapes include rocky outcrops, colourful sand dunes and wetlands where birdlife abounds.

Experience unique adventures while you visit a sheep or cattle station. Step back in our planet's history following Australia's Dinosaur Trail. Challenge your luck fossicking for gemstones and precious opals.

There is so much to discover in Queensland's inland. Let me guide you to the best places and help you find your personal highlights for your travels in Outback Queensland.

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The 1674 km journey along the Matilda Highway

The Matilda Highway is a tourist route that runs from Cunnamulla in the south to Karumba on the Gulf of Carpentaria. The different sections of this all-bitumen road are officially called the Mitchell Highway, Landsborough Highway and Burke Developmental Road.

In honour of the famous song "Waltzing Matilda", which was written by Andrew Barton Patterson near Winton, this main route through Outback Queensland received its nickname Matilda Highway. Any place west of this route is even more remote Outback.

The Matilda Highway crosses a region of diverse & stunning landscapes...

  • the endlessly rolling Mitchell and Flinders grass downs that produce food for cattle & sheep
  • harsh rocky ranges rich in zinc, copper, lead and silver ore around Mt Isa
  • flat plains as far as your eye can see along the Gulf of Carpentaria. Where the Outback meets the sea is Karumba, the prawn capital of Queensland
  • wildlife is abundant, as anywhere in the Australian Outback
Take your time. Throw a fishing line into a river to catch your dinner. Go bird-watching and enjoy Australian wildlife. Don't miss the opal fields near Quilpie. Outback Queensland is really famous for its boulder opal.

Matilda country is a fascinating part of the Australian Outback. It's the land of bush poets and yarns, stockmen and shearers. A region full of history from a great past.

On your travel you'll discover unique towns and places.

  • Winton, the birthplace of Qantas, the famous Australian national airline. The saying goes that Qantas was conceived in Cloncurry, born in Winton, and grew up in Longreach.
  • Lake Quarry and Muttaburra - the land where dinosaurs roamed in ancient times
  • The spirit of Waltzing Matilda can be found everywhere in the central section of Queensland.
  • Cloncurry - with the opening of the Aerial Medical Service, John Flynn's dream became reality. Yes, the well-known Flying Doctor Service was born here.
  • The Australian Stockman's Hall Of Fame in Longreach pays tribute to the early settlers, and provides the visitors with an unique Outback experience.

Channel Country and the Far West

The channel country covers the southwest of Queensland, a bit of the northwest corner of South Australia, and a small section in the northwest of New South Wales.
Cooper Creek, the Diamantina, Barcoo and Thomson rivers, as well as their multiple channels, are the main waterways that form the channel country. Fed by the northern monsoon rains in summer, the rivers flood and fill the channels. But only in very good seasons the water ever reaches Lake Eyre.

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After ten years of drought, the "good seasons" started early 2010. Outback Queensland received a sequence of major rains and floods in the past two years.
But what is good for the parched land, can be a disaster for populated areas. A couple of towns in central Queensland were flooded twice and the damage to the economy was immense.
In February 2012, Queensland floods make it to the news again.

Several Byways of the Matilda Highway lead into the remote southeast of Queensland, and into the far west. This is the true Outback. And it is arid land, despite the rivers.

The channel country only receives between 150 and 300 mm rain a year. However, when the rivers flow, the landscapes change dramatically. Then cattle and sheep find lush areas to graze, and the station owners know that they're living in the luckiest country on earth.

Windorah, where the Barcoo and Thomson Rivers form Cooper Creek, is a welcome stop for travellers. From here you can go to Birdsville, Thargomindah or Quilpie, and back to join the Matilda Highway at Cunnamulla.

The Far West, that's the country along the border to the Northern Territory. Bedourie, Boulia and Dajarra are small bush towns that line the Eyre & Diamantina Developmental roads up north to Mount Isa.
The mining town Mount Isa is the largest town in this part of the world.

Of course there is also Birdsville in the south, just before you enter South Australia.

Outback Queensland is a land of extremes. Droughts and floods are facts of life. They rarely get it right. Travel Queensland and take your time. There is so much to explore.

Enjoy your journey in Outback Queensland!

post office and roundabout longreach
Post Office in Longreach
sunset on a river
Sunset Thomson river Longreach
red and dusty road
On the way to Windorah
info sign dajarra rail
Dajarra is about 150km south of Mt. Isa
waterhole surrounded by gum trees
Boulia waterhole

For more information to travel Queensland check the following pages.

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Questions & Tips


Birdsville to Townsville 
I am planning a trip along the Birdsville Track through to Townsville April next year. I can find plenty of information / maps from the south into Birdsville …

Birdsville, 1961- 50 years on ! 
Hi Rita. In 1961 I was on a Bureau of Meteorology survey which involved the location and checking of various artesian bores in this region. I was in …

Question about Australian Crocodiles 
Hi, My name is Enya and.....um I know this sounds stupid but.....in Queensland would you actually come face to face with a crocodile when swimming in …

Stop the Australian Camel Slaughter 
Sorry to say that the Australian government is proposing to slaughter camels because they generate green house gas. Here is a petition to try to get …

Windorah and Cooper Creek 
Best time to visit Windorah and Cooper Creek? I will be in Australia in January to mid February 2010. Is it possible/feasible to visit you part …

Back to the Past. 
The photo is of Suzie, the one-eyed horse, the guy on the back is me, one of the last £10 Poms. At least I think it's me because after 37 years I look …

I loved outback Queensland!  
I just feel that I have to share this with all those people who travel along the coast of Queensland and never turn inland. There's so much to see in the …

Windorah to Birdsville 
Hi Rita I have spent some time driving 4wd around the channel country and have had numerous trips from Southwest Queensland to Windorah and beyond. …

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