Brisbane to Winton via the South West Outback

This drive serves up a virtual smorgasbord of experiences. Discover gourmet food and wine in the spectacular Granite Belt Region.  The captivating scenery and stunning natural attractions along the route are a truly visual feast.  Immerse yourself in the local culture and connect with these welcoming communities.  Enjoy a soak in artesian waters, fossick for opals, sleep under starry night skies and meet Cooper, Australia’s largest dinosaur.  Travel out to Winton via the South West Outback towns and back via a section of the Matilda Way.

Highlights:

  • Granite Belt Food & Wine
  • Girraween National Park
  • Charlotte Plains Sheep & Cattle Station
  • Artesian Springs & Eulo Mud baths
  • Eromanga Natural History Museum
  • Windorah sand hills
  • Cooper Creek camping & fishing
  • Welford National Park
  • Winton Outback Festival
  • Australian Age of Dinosaurs
  • Waltzing Matilda Centre
  • Tree of Knowledge
  • Workers Heritage Centre
  • Bilby Experience & Cosmos Centre
  • Granite belt winery with cheese board
  • Girraween National Park
  • Eromanga Nature History Museum
  • Eulo Artesian Mud Baths
  • Cooper Creek in Windorah
  • Welford National Park
  • Dunny Derby Race at Outback Festival
  • Australian Age of Dinosaurs in Winton

Day 1: Brisbane to Stanthorpe  (approx. 246km / 3hrs) 

Travel south via the Ipswich Boonah Road to Boonah, heart of the Scenic Rim with its stunning mountain and country scenery. Follow the Falls Scenic Drive via Lake Moogerah, Carr’s Lookout and the spectacular Queens Mary Falls to Killarney. Enjoy lunch at Spring Creek Mountain Cafe with spectacular views over Condamine Gorge, Wilson’s Peak, The Border Ranges and World Heritage listed rainforest. Continue your drive to Stanthorpe in the heart of the Granite Belt Wine Region. Follow the Granite Belt Strange Bird Alternative Wine Trail to discover Queensland’s premier food and wine region. Sample cider and apple pie at Sutton’s Apple Farm and visit Stanthorpe Cheese which features a range of handmade farmhouse cheeses. Explore the spectacular Girraween National Park. Taste locally-made jams and conserves at Jamworks before enjoying lunch at Barrel Room Café and choose from the fresh seasonal menu.

Day 2: Stanthorpe to St George (approx 399km / 5hrs 15 mins)

Travel west towards big skies and cotton country today. Follow the Stanthorpe-Inglewood Road to the pretty township of Inglewood. Visit nearby Coolmunda Olives, walk through the beautiful olive grove and sample some delicious organic olive products. Pass through the quaint wheat village of Bungunya then call into Queensland’s oldest hotel, the Nindigully Pub for a cold drink and old-fashioned pub food. Drive a short distance to St George, the inland fishing capital of Queensland.  Tonight enjoy a sunset cruise along the Balonne River with Sandytown River Cruises. The river is a bird watchers’ paradise with over 230 species found within the region.

Day 3: St George to Cunnamulla (approx 295km / 3hr 25 mins)

On the drive towards Cunnamulla along a section of the Adventure Way, call into Charlotte Plains Station, a working sheep and cattle property. Apart from the abundant birdlife and wildlife, the big attraction is the 1890s station bore pond. Relax in this natural Artesian water and soak your cares away. Join a history tour of the station or participate in station activities. Visit the Artesian Time Tunnel at the Cunnamulla Fella Centre for a real insight into the world’s largest underground river journey. Just outside of town is the beautiful Warrego River. Follow the 2.5km River Walk at sunset to capture the last colours of the day from the viewing deck. Hire a kayak or take a guided kayak tour of this natural wonderland.

Day 4: Cunnamulla to Eromanga (approx 401km / 4hr 30 mins)

Continue a short distance to Eulo where you may treat yourself to a gourmet soak at the Artesian Mud Baths. Bathe in milky grey artesian mud drawn fresh from ancient springs. Indulge with wine and nibbles as you stretch out in the antique baths in a beautiful bush setting. Sample local honey products at the Eulo Belle Arts & Opal Centre. This gourmet honey has taken out Blue Ribbons at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney. In Quilpie, stretch your legs and enjoy a picnic lunch under a shady tree beside the Bulloo River or make time to see St Finbarr’s Opal Altar for a truly beautiful display of Australia’s Boulder Opal. Drive another 107km along a fully sealed road to Eromanga, Australia’s furthest town from the ocean and home of the Eromanga Natural History Museum. See real bones of ‘Cooper’ Australia’s largest dinosaur and the world’s largest marsupials – massive 80,000-year-old Diprotodons, that carried 70kg joeys in their pouches! Join a guided tag-a-long tour* to one of the few working dinosaur dig sites. (*Seasonal tour. Minimum numbers apply)

Day 5: Eromanga to Windorah  (Approx. 278km/3hr 25min)

Wake up to a beautiful outback sunrise and drive along the Diamantina Development Road northeast to Windorah in the heart of the Channel Country. Make your first port of call the Visitor Information Centre, hook up to the free wifi and reconnect with the family back home. Follow an interesting drive down to the Cooper Creek via the Nature Drive.  This unsealed track complete with interpretive signage will lead you on a self-guided native plant discovery tour.  Enjoy free camping and great fishing on this popular watering hole. Just 12km west of town are the Windorah Sandhills. These stunning red dunes are awesome by day, but the real magic happens as the sun goes down. So it’s a good idea to time your visit for just on sunset. And, make sure you bring supplies of BYO drinks and nibbles. This sunset will be a night to remember.

Day 6: Windorah to Longreach (approx 315km / 3hr 28 mins)

Pass through ever-changing landscapes to Jundah heralded by their unique Welcome Signs which resemble old style shop fronts.  Jundah is the closest town to the fascinating Welford National Park.  This 124,000 hectare park is a blaze of colours; see green and gold spinifex, red sand hills and white ghost gums hugging serene waterholes.  Camping is permitted but check with the Jundah Visitor Information team about permits and access conditions. Drive around 32km north east to visit the site of a Native Well.  These wells supplied good, sweet water to the local Aboriginal people.  Make a stop at Swanvale Lookout, about half way between Stonehenge and Jundah.  This magnificent ‘Jump Up’ is also a free camp site and an ideal spot to watch sunrise or sunset. If you are looking for some refreshments, take the Stonehenge Turnoff.  Enjoy free WiFi and freshly brewed coffee at the Visitor Information Centre or for something more substantial head to the Stonehenge Hotel.  From Stonehenge, follow route 79 to Longreach.  Late afternoon in Longreach, join the Drover’s Sunset Cruise on the the Thomson River.

Day 7: Longreach 

Board a Cobb & Co stage coach for an exhilarating gallop through the bush, watch the entertaining Outback Stockman’s Show at the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and join the Jets Tour at Qantas Founders Museum. Meet the Walker family on the Camden Park Sunset Tour, a working sheep and cattle station.  Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, why not treat yourself to a scenic helicopter flight with Queensland Helicopters for a birds-eye view of the long reach of the Thomson River and floodplains; perfect at sunset!

Day 8-12: Longreach to Winton (approx. 180km / 1hr 50 mins)

Arrive in Winton, ready for 5 days of Outback Festival Celebrations. Enjoy a packed family-friendly program of events to include the famous Australian Dunny Derby, Outback Ironman events, sunset dinners, Indigenous cultural program, free kids events and workshops. While in Winton, make sure your visit the Waltzing Matilda Centre and the world-class Australian Age of Dinosaurs.

Day 13: Winton to Barcaldine (approx 287km / 3hr)

Leaving Winton today, continue along the Matilda Way to Ilfracombe and the historic Wellshot Hotel. Make sure you check out the ceiling covered in money! In  Barcaldine stand under the impressive Tree of Knowledge Memorial where once stood the 180-year old ghost gum, significant to the Shearer’s Strike in 1891. The kids can test their musical skills on the outdoor Thong-a-phone and Marimba, before tucking into a tasty snack at one of the local bakeries or cafés. Visit the Australian Workers Heritage Centre, where the stories of Australia’s working history come to life. Tonight, why not treat the kids to an old style movie at the Radio Picture Theatre, complete with old style canvas seats.

Day 14: Barcaldine to Charleville (approx. 409km / 4hr 20 mins)

Follow the Matilda Way south to Blackall. Learn the legend of blade shearer Jackie Howe in Blackall and take a tour of the historic Blackall Woolscour. Call in to the pretty outback town of Tambo, a living museum of cultural history. Visit the Tambo Teddies Workshop and see the sheep skin teddy bears being created and sold. Pass through Augathella, with its fascinating history of bushrangers, bullockies and bullock teams to Charleville, heart of the ‘mulga’ country. Get up close and personal with the Bilby, one of Australia’s most endangered species at the Bilby Experience. Join experienced night sky guides at the Cosmos Centre to view distant stars, planets and star clusters through powerful telescopes.

Day 15: Charleville to Roma (approx. 266km / 2hr 50 mins)

Travel to Mitchell for a therapeutic soak in the Great Artesian Spa. Visit the original courthouse where local bushrangers the Kenniff Brothers were committed to stand trial. Drive east on the Warrego Highway to Roma where twice weekly you can join a free tour of the Roma Sale yards, the largest cattle selling facility in the southern hemisphere. Enjoy an amazing theatrical presentation, recreating the story of Australia’s Oil and Gas Industry at the Big Rig Night Show.

Day 16: Roma to Brisbane (approx. 479km / 5hr 40 mins)

Head east along the Warrego Way to the Miles Historical Village, its ‘streetscape’ of 30 buildings breathing life into a bygone era. Keep your eyes peeled for melon paddocks as you head towards Chinchilla, home of the famous Chinchilla Melon Festival (held in February). Follow the Dalby Heritage Trail and visit some of Dalby’s stunning historical buildings, homes and churches. Make a stop in the Garden City of Toowoomba and take in some panoramic views from Picnic Point.  Follow the Warrego Way back to Brisbane.