Travelling from Windorah QLD to Birdsville

by Tony B
(Melbourne, Victoria Australia)

How good/bad are the Diamantina Development and the Birdsville Development Roads, (Windorah to Birdsville)? There are plenty of write-ups about the Birdsville Track, and there seems to be a consensus that you could easily travel it in an ordinary sedan these days.

I'm fairly experienced in outback travel, however my vehicle will be a Subaru Forester, which isn't as big and hairy-chested as your land cruisers, Patrols etc. Any issues with ground clearance?

My belief is that even the best 4WD is only as good as the nut behind the wheel.

road to nowhere
North of Birdsville on the Bedourie Road

Rita's Reply

Hi Tony,

"My belief is that even the best 4WD is only as good as the nut behind the wheel." You are definitely right with this conclusion!

The Birdsville Track was very stony when I travelled it years ago. It was there that we had the only flat tyre of all Outback trips. Obviously, we hadn't lowered the tyre pressure as much as we should.
I thought the road north of Birdsville was even rougher than the BT itself, with lots of sandy patches.

The Diamantina Developmental Road is sealed from Windorah to the junction with the Birdsville Developmental Road. The Developmental Roads are maintained frequently. However, after rain they can be quite rough, with washouts and deep wheel ruts.

As an experienced Outback traveller you certainly know that any statement about conditions on a certain road is only true today, and can be rather different tomorrow.

Please understand, I try to avoid statements like "You can do this track/road with that kind of car", because it depends on the conditions on the day you go out there. As of today, the Birdsville Developmental Road is recommended for high-clearance vehicles only. But this might be different in a month.

With this Outback Guide I try to convince even first time travellers that they can explore the Outback (as long as they don't start with the Simpson Desert on the first trip), and offer help to prepare their journey.

Even if I repeat myself, a successful trip depends on how well the driver is prepared, knows his car, the weather, and current road conditions. It is good to ask the locals, even better oncoming drivers, before one gets out on a lonely stretch of road.

For the latest road conditions call 1300 130 595 (recorded), or check the road conditions on the Diamantina Shire Council website.

For South Australia the telephone number is 1300 361 033, and the website is Outback Roads South Australia

Safe travelling.

Comments for Travelling from Windorah QLD to Birdsville

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May 10, 2023
by: Paul

Heading to the Birdsville Bash in July. Have an new MUX 4wd and just wondering if the 20" highway tyres will survive the unsealed road from Windorah or will I need AT tyres?

Sep 23, 2022
Betoota Hotel is OPEN NEW
by: Jim

Of the 369km from Windorah to Birdsville towing a Sunland Patriot Caravan with Nissan Patrol Y62 we enjoyed the drive and found the Betoota Hotel was open. Great stop over. Of that distance reckon about 60% is still corrugated dirt road. Drive according to conditions and ensure tyre pressures are lowered. We fitted new tyres A/T to both before heading off which included the Birdville and Oodnadatta tracks and The Plenty Highway (Track) then back to the Tropics. On that road your vehicle clearance and good tyres are a must.

Mar 09, 2022
Mazda 2
by: Anonymous

Hi Interested in driving to Birdsville Races in April 2022. Do you think a Mazda 2 could do it safely

Jun 24, 2021
Road conditions
by: Daryl

Hi I am on my way to Birdsville bash. Will be leaving charleville. In the next day just wondering if anyone has driven the road between Windorah and Birdsville I will be driving a Holden Colorado with a semi off caravan. Just wondering what te condition of the road

May 12, 2021
Road Condition - Windorah to Birdsville NEW
by: Anonymous

Hi, Just wondering if anyone has recently travelled from Windorah to Birdsville and can provide an update on what the road condition is like and how long it took them? We are planning to leave Windorah Friday 4th June to Birdsville. Thanks :)

May 07, 2021
Bouila to Birdsville , Birdsville to Quilpie
by: Traveller SNS.

Planing a trip end of May 2021
Any information regarding road conditions from someone who has travelled recently?

Mar 03, 2021
Whitsundays to Birdsville
by: Heather

I’m travelling to Birdsville races from Whitsunday’s in September for my 50th. What advice can you give. Mitsubishi challenger.

Oct 02, 2020
Bucket list must do trip NEW
by: Anonymous

My wife & I just travelled from Mt. Isa to Birdsville then onto Windorah - Quilpie - Cunnamulla- Goondiwindi. Although there is quite a lot of stony / gravel still out there it was a great trip. During our trip across the non- bitumen areas we passed many a non- 4 wheel drive with several of them pulling caravans. We were in a 4 wheel drive and averaged between 80 to 90 Klms per hour across the dirt / stony gravel roads without lowering our tyres. You just have to slow down and be curtious to all other road users. We received a cracked windscreen from a P plate driver that could not be bothered to slow down, but 99.9% of road users out there were great. The scenery was worth the trip alone. Just make sure you take some spare fuel and water and try to avoid doing this trip in the wet season or at night. DH.sept 2020

Jun 23, 2020
Clayton River Station NEW
by: Mava

If your looking for something different , 50km after Marree heading north is Clayton River Station. They have 2 luxurious cottages . Enjoy the outdoor hot tub under the stars with artesian bore water. It’s a must !!!! Enjoy

Jun 22, 2020
Pet-friendly Birdsville? NEW
by: Tony B

Hi, you could call the Birdsville Hotel, or the Caravan Park, or the Birdsville Police. These people are usually easy-going, and should be able to help. By the way, if you are staying overnight, ask whoever or wherever you will be staying. Birdsville is a friendly place, and you shouldn't have any problems.

Jun 22, 2020
Pets NEW
by: BobF

I’m driving up from Port Augusta to Birdsville then the next day into Windora and onto Roma.
I want to break my trip and stay in Birdsville but I have a spaniel dog. Is there anywhere I can stay pet friendly.
Thank you

Jul 24, 2019
Win to Bird
by: Mava

Travelled to the Birdsville races 2018 . Will be doing it again in 2020. Drove 2004 Holden Rodeo . It’s roughy 380km from Windorah to Birdsville. The first @130km is bitumen then the fun kicks in... Drop down to 20psi tyres pressure and enjoy the dust and rocks for the next 3 hours. Make sure you stop into the Betoota Hotel for a coldie....
Overall a good drive , does get a bit rough in a few places but hey it’s the outback.. Enjoy !!!!!

Sep 28, 2018
Birdville to windorah?
by: Anonymous

Just wanting some up to date info on the birdsville to windorah rd....any info appreciated.

Jun 13, 2018
2 Wheels on the Birdsville track
by: Anonymous

Hey, I rode an old ex-army dispatch rider's bike from Alice Springs to Port Augusta on what is now called the "Oodnadatta Track" back in 1959. That road was then called the Stuart Highway, and was the only north-south track in existence. The bike was a BSA 250cc, four-stroke. I carried a full back-pack, a couple of gallons of water on one crash-bar, and a jerry-can of fuel on the other side. The road was B**** terrible, mostly because the trucks tore it up, especially if it got a bit wet.
So, if you are considering riding the Birdsville track, it should be fairly negotiable these days because SA Roads have done some work to iron out most of the bumps, making it fairly "bike-friendly".

Jun 03, 2018
Old Betoota
by: Tony

Further to yesterday's comment about camping along the Windora to Birdsville road, have a think about diverging north to "Old Betoota". Not sure what's there now, but it might be worth a look.

Jun 03, 2018
Camping on the Windorah to Birdsville Road
by: Tony

Plenty of camping spots; none of them marked as "official", but you should be OK if you pull well off the road, and don't camp in a creek bed. Be careful of soft spots, you may become bogged if it's loose sand.
Having said that, I haven't been down that road for a long time, (several years), and Queensland Roads may have done some work setting up "approved" camping spots.

Jun 03, 2018
Camping spots between Windorah and Birdsville
by: David

Hi, Can anybody suggest camping spots along the road from Windorah to Birdsville, Can't seem to see any on the map, Cheers David

Apr 20, 2018
Toyota Coaster Motorhome Brisbane to Birdsville & Boulia
by: Annette

We would like to travel to Birdsville in our 1988 Coaster Motorhome next year - an oldie but a goody.

Are the roads from Windorah to Birdsville and then on to Boulia OK for an on-road bus like ours?

When is the best time to go considering weather and road conditions?

Feb 27, 2018
Time from Windorah to Birdsville
by: Tony

Depends very much on the state of the road. I'd strongly advise contacting Queensland Roads to get the latest. Do not attempt it if the road is covered in places; there's many a motorist that's been bogged up to the door handles in innocent-looking puddles. If you come across a puddle and there are fresh tracks around it, follow those by-pass tracks, (as long as you can see the re-entry back onto the road). Some by-pass tracks are actually turn-offs, headed for various station features, or even exploratory boreholes etc.

If you get a straight-through run, I reckon you could do it in a 6-7 hour run.

Feb 27, 2018
How long does it take?
by: Aln

Planning a trip to Birdsville this year. Can any one tell me how long it take to get from Windorah to Birdsville? This being on a good track.

Feb 04, 2018
Birdsville to Windorah
by: Jeff

Thanks Tony
Its the AWD Kluger,low klms,new tyres. I have two spares now and a compressor,hand pump and a tyre depression gauge in my kit.

Jan 09, 2018
by: Tony B

A 4WD Kluger should be OK, as long as it's in good shape, and you have paid particular attention to the tyres, which should be as-new, and you've made sure that tyre pressures are lowered to around 20psi for the rough stuff. I always recommend you carry, among other things, a tyre pressure gauge and a compressor to blow them up again once you get back to the bitumen.

Jan 08, 2018
Adelaide to Birdsville to Townsville
by: Jeff

Looking at a long drive. I will be driving a 2011 AWD Kluger. Will it cope with the roads?

Sep 03, 2017
by: BrianMoyse

Did this stretch in one winter day in a Mazda Tribute towing campertrailer. doubled up on tyres, carried 30L extra fuel & 20L water, CB radio, covered rear window with closed cell foam and we had no problems. think it is important to lower tyre pressures (20PSI for mine) as road is mostly crushed rock and 80kmph is about as fast as I wanted to go. After rain the development road can have water filled holes in some of the depressions, something to keep in mind. Don't forget to fuel up at Windorah - no servos between there and B'ville. Take your time and enjoy the unique outback.

Aug 08, 2017
Trip duration
by: Terry

What is the average time it takes travel from Windorah to Birdsville

Jul 25, 2017
Tavelling the Windorah- Birdsville road
by: Lee

I only have a small low clearance front wheel drive Hyundai i30CW and would appreciate advice as to whether I can travel this road, bearing in mind that I would observe all precautions such as checking the road conditions etc on the day.



Jul 25, 2017
Type of vehicle
by: norm

Can anyone advise if it's safe and doable to drive from Windorah to Birdsville in a rear wheel drive vehicle I have a Mazda bravo 2004 in good mechanical condition I would appreciate some honest answers / regards norm

Jul 03, 2017
You're fine
by: Uppipe

You can rarely over-prepare for an outback trip and sounds like you have it well covered. I assume you have an EPIRB or Spot Tracker? I have been to Birdsville several time and in relation to the Q re a Forester - I crossed the Simpson in my Forester and it also did the Old Tele Track at the tip so you will have no issues!


Jul 02, 2017
Birdsville track and birdsville development road
by: Warren

In 2 weeks we are heading to the birdsville track then on to big red and then grom birdsville back home via the development track.
We have been planning this dream trip for 14 months and i have coveted a total backup system for extra fuel and tyres,radiator hoses and fuel hoses also extra food and water not to mention a travel survival plan left with my daughter. My question is to an experienced birdsville travelers are we overdoing it


May 24, 2017
Developmental road North of Birdsville
by: We're the Millers

Hoping to drive from Darwin to Emerald in August and considering a detour to Birdsville. Will be towing an onroad caravan, so would like to know how much of the Developmental Road is sealed and the condition of any gravel road. Should we considerleaving the caravan at Boulia if need be and stay at the Birdsville pub for a night. Anyone been that way recently?

Sep 03, 2016
Birdsville Development Road
by: finz

Can anyone tell me if the Birdsville Development Road is sealed please. I plan on going to Birdsville on my Trike towing a teardrop camper. What is the best time of year to travel to Birdsville?

Sep 02, 2016
Drive to Birdsville
by: Terry W

4 trips to Birdsville Races in my Commodore , not a worry about puntures if carefull and watch the road . Biggest worry is the 4x4's with camper teailers doing over 100 kph throwing up stones every where when passing or over taking . Lots of stone chips if lucky ( 5 my first trip ) now l just get way of the road when l see them comming , who needs a broken windscreen or window

Jun 17, 2016
For Jules
by: Lee

For what it's worth I'd carry 20 liters of water and 20 liters of fuel plus a second spare tyre if you have room. Also cake a cake of soap handy, if you hole the fuel tank on dirt roads it is great for sealing the hole. Further make sure you have a UHF CB radio. Others may disagree but from my experiences these are my recommendations.

May 12, 2016
by: Jules

hey guys: A group of us girls are doing the trek from Brisbane in an SUV - Captiva Maxx ----- Do you think this would be ok? And the fuel consumption on this thing is silly at around 450klms a tank. Do you think that I will only need one tank of fuel? How would I take spare fuel?

Any help for us ladies would be appreciated....

Apr 16, 2016
Looking to go from gympie to perth
by: Anonymous

Has anyone done this trip across . I am checking out now how and what roads to take. Preferably bitumen . No 4wd towing a camper too

Nov 15, 2015
easy does it
by: Anonymous

I was up in that area in 2014 and passed many 2wds including small hatch backs with low ground clearance and huge overloaded motorhomes full of grey nomads. Unless it's been raining heavy there will be no issues for a standard 2x2. It's bumpy in sections and I'd make sure to have the basics incase of a flat tyre which will be your biggest issue. Have a fun trip

Jun 13, 2015
Bitumen Ends
by: Scott

Can anyone tell me how far out of Windorah the bitumen finishes on the way to Birdsville, someone said to me that there's only about 170km's of dirt now, is that correct?? Plus any idea on the road conditions the week before the races, Cheers.

Jun 05, 2015
standard van to birdsville.
by: Mick

Thanks Allen
Unfortunaly i wont be going to the big red bash could not interest any body else to come along so might try and get there next year

Mar 23, 2015
standard van to birdsville.
by: allan.

mick, your van will do it without a prob. its a rough gravel road with small bits of bitumen and can be a little rocky but just take it easy. its not the wild west that it once was. but big red is well worth a look, and a night time concert would be unreal.

Mar 23, 2015
Charlville to Birdsville Developmental Road
by: mick

Im looking at going to the big red bash in July this year have 4x4 and pop top van not off road and wondering it its feasible to take this van to B/ville.
Has any body done this trip with a van thats not an off road van?Would be travelling from Sydney.

Jan 20, 2015
Forester's capability
by: Ern

We've done many of the Channel country roads in a Forester towing a camper trailer no problems, even when the 'tracks' are classed as 4WD only, after rain.

You do need good tyres (AT LT recommended) and an aftermarket sump guard is a good investment (from SubaXtreme).

Aug 31, 2014
by: allan

to all the lucky people heading to Birdsville here's a couple of tips, ive been a few times and never had a prob finding a camp spot until last time (2012) you'll first notice the race track is way out of town. when you cross the bridge you can go left or right for camping which is about half way between town and the track. its nice there to be on the river but good luck finding a spot if you are not there early. don't worry about the distance from town as a bus run back and forth all day about every 30 mins. the closer you camp to town the more arid the camping is. as in no trees or water to camp beside. DONT drink and drive, I must have got tested about 12 times. if you need fuel fill up when you get there, the que at the end of the week-end is crazy. ps have a look at big red, only about 30 km out the other side of town but worth a look. wish I was going CHEERS.

Aug 31, 2014
first time Birdsville
by: David Brent

Hi there
I am off to Birdsville Monday 1 sept from Maryborough Qld.I have a camper trailer towed by a mitsubshi triton. Looking forward to the trip.I have been down the Strzelecki track in april, it was great. See you all when I get there

Aug 22, 2014
Birdsville and Back
by: Terry and Kathy

We are a couple of seniors off to Birdsville for our first time. We are leaving Plainland around 30th Aug along with our tent and look forward to meeting up with others travelling the same road, cheers to all.

Aug 01, 2014
Check before you go
by: Rita

Right now there are no problems, but as you know, conditions can change any day.
So please check weather reports and road conditions shortly before you go.


Jul 21, 2014
Off to the races
by: Gary

We are travelling from Walgett to Birdsville. Can anyone tell me what the road conditions are like at the moment. We are off to the races so we will be travelling late August.

Jun 29, 2014
birdsville to windorah.
by: Allan

Assuming you are coming through betoota, there is no accommodation between Birdsville and Windorah. Just wide open spaces and plenty of places to pull up stump for the night.

Jun 29, 2014
by: Maree

any accommodation between Birdsville and Windorah please

Jun 28, 2014
Don't move over and save your windscreen
by: Anonymous

Hear hear.
e had is idiots coming the other way that dont slow down. two smashed windows like that. so now i dont move over till they are almost on top of me and they brake, then i move over and give a friendly wave as they go past at a more windscreen friendly speed. just take it easy and enjoy the scenery, might be big open spaces but lots to see if you take the time to look.

Have done this for years..

Apr 20, 2014
by: Rita

Thank you for the update, Ian & Maggie

Mar 31, 2014
Road to Birdsville 31st March 2014
by: Ian & Maggie

Well the road to Birdsville from Windorah is a stretch of road that requires a lot of concentration and patients ....we travelled it today and the tyre tracks make it difficult for a 4 wheel drive vehicle to get through , nearly impossible for a normal sedan .....a sedan would suffer damage ...Of the 388 klms about half is bitumen the other half is dirt ,sand ,stones and some slippy surfaces ... im glad we did the trip plus we towed a 21 foot caravan... The trip is well worth it and if you take care very doable.....fuel cost March 2014 $1.84.9 cents per litre P.S. take a camera and enjoy

Aug 17, 2012
road conditions for a bus.
by: allan

you'll be fine. i take it you are going to the races, so are we. been there a few times in past years and seen lot of buses. just drive to the road conditions. its sandy, stoney and dirt. only prob ive had is idiots coming the other way that dont slow down. two smashed windows like that. so now i dont move over till they are almost on top of me and they brake, then i move over and give a friendly wave as they go past at a more windscreen friendly speed. just take it easy and enjoy the scenery, might be big open spaces but lots to see if you take the time to look.

Aug 16, 2012
Windorah to Birdsville
by: Kate

We are planning to drive from Victoria to Windorah Qld within the next week or so. I have been able to find information on the conditions of the road up to Windorah all bitumen. We will be in a 1989 Hino Rainbow bus (motorhome) which is not 4x4.
Can anyone PLEASE tell me what to expect when we leave Windorah heading to Birdsville. I'm worried about tyres, windscreen, fuel and the rattling of the bus in general.
Any information would be greatly apprieciated.

Apr 16, 2012
windorah birdsville to marree
by: landy swagy

In 2010 I was overtaken by a holden astra towing a camper trailer on these roads. If you plan your trip make a phone calls in relation to road conditions you could do this trip on a mobility scooter

Aug 14, 2011
Windorah to Birdsville
by: Tracie

Hi Rita,
I have checked out your comments for ealier in the year, but Im off to Birdsville via Quilpie and hoping for advice please.
I ahve a Hilux Dual cab with 3" lift kit, and am planning on towing 18' caravan poptop expanda... your thoughts? Normally I would take the camper but wanting to go 'Glamping' for the races??
Appreciate your input

Feb 28, 2011
Birdsville Developmental Road
by: Rita

Hi Brian,

I haven't been there for a long time. Apart from that, I think with all the recent rain it won't help you much what the Birdsville Developmental Road usually is like in April.
So it really depends on when it was graded the last time, how much traffic went through in wet/damp conditions before you go.

I guess many Outback roads that are usually easy to drive are in a mess this year.

The road is unsealed from the junction with the Diamantina Rd until Birdsvile, 270km.

You can call the information centres in Birdsville Ph: 07-4656 3300 or Windorah Ph: 07 4656 3063 before you go.


Feb 26, 2011
Birdsville development road
by: Brian

Hello Rita we were thinking of travelling with a commodore sedan & a high lift 16.5 poptop from Cunnumulla to Birdsville by the Birdsville development road in late April . As you say the condition of outback roads can change over night but we just wondered what it is like generally as to wether any part of it is sealed and does it get badly rutted at that time of the year.I am familiar with the RACQ web site as to road closures in Queensland because of flooding.
Thanks, Brian

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