Outback Queensland is rugged, sparse, unforgiving and beautiful. If you haven’t travelled to the Outback, I recommend doing it at least once in your lifetime. My family and I had the opportunity to live in a small remote town called Jundah, 200km’s southwest of Longreach and at first it seemed like there was nothing to do, but after two years we realised that Jundah and the surrounding towns do have a lot to offer if you enjoy the outdoors.
The Outback roads are desolate and dusty
If you’re travelling from Longreach, the first town you’ll stumble across in the Barcoo Shire will be Stonehenge. It’s a tiny town with a pub, visitor’s centre, camping ground and friendly locals.
In August each year this small town hosts the Stonehenge Rodeo and Bronco Branding event which draws hundreds to this tiny town as it swells for the entire weekend. There are various competitions such as bronco branding, a gymkhana, team penning, and stockman’s challenge, all washed down with an abundance of cold drinks available all weekend long. On the Saturday night everyone kicks up their heels and enjoys live music and sleeping under the stars in their swags.
There are plenty of fishing holes in the Barcoo Shire
The second town you’ll eventually come across is Jundah. Here you will find a general store, post office, information centre, pub, camping ground, police station and a whole lot of friendly faces who are sure to make you welcome.
The Welford National Park is located approximately 30km southeast of Jundah and has a wide range of activities on offer. You can enjoy four wheel driving, canoeing, walking and fishing in this National Park which has some of the most spectacular scenery in Australia. There are a number of large water holes and camping sites and if you’re unsure about anything at all, the friendly rangers are always on hand. There is also an abundance of wildlife to be spotted out here, with kangaroos, emus, kookaburras, lizards and snakes seen regularly around the park.
In October each year, Jundah holds the annual Oktoberfest, where hundreds of people flock to the small town to indulge in German beer, food, dancing and a whole lot of fun. The same weekend they hold the annual Jundah Races which pulls crowds from far afield. A day at the races in Jundah is quite like no other, as the horses thunder around the old racetrack, covering the racegoers in red dust. There are also billy cart races, an Oompa Loompa band and plenty of souvenirs to take home from an unforgettable weekend.
An hour down the road from Jundah you’ll stumble across the sleepy town of Windorah which also has a number of amenities similar to those in Jundah. The Windorah Pub is a lovely retreat to take some time out, have a cool drink, a great meal and a friendly chat to the owners. The camping ground in Windorah is well equipped and a great place to base yourself for a week or so.
A storm rolling in to Jundah
Just outside of Windorah is the mighty Cooper Creek. There are loads of scenic and peaceful camping sites along the river as well as many good fishing spots. It’s a brilliant place to spot the birdlife and sit back to enjoy the idyllic surroundings. In the opposite direction, heading towards Birdsville you’ll come across some of the most magnificent red sand hills. Some are big enough to slide down on a plastic bag or air mattress, which is great fun for the family. But just a tip – in summer the sand is incredibly hot and it’ll burn your feet if you’re not wearing appropriate footwear.
Every year Windorah holds the famous Yabby Races, which is a pit stop for travellers on their way to the Birdsville Races. Each yabby is named and auctioned off prior to the races with the money earned going back to the community and the Royal Flying Doctor Service. It’s one of the biggest nights of the year in Windorah and with live music, great food and plenty of cool drinks to quench your thirst, this will be one event you’ll never forget.
Unless you absolutely love the heat, then the best time to visit the Barcoo Shire is normally in the winter months when its cooler and the number of flies is significantly less than in the summertime, but be warned, the flies in the Outback come in droves. A fly net is probably great investment and one which we used frequently whilst living out there.
The scenery in the Outback is unforgettable
So if you're considering travelling to the Outback, I'd definitely recommend a visit to these small towns. The experience and memories you'll go home with will stay with you for a lifetime.