Winton, Outback Queensland

It’s the Year of Outback Tourism: 8 reasons why you need to visit in 2019

It might be the Year of the Pig for the rest of the world, but in Queensland, it’s the Year of the Outback Tourism. And that deserves a big yeehah!

If you’ve seen the news, you’ll know our Outback towns have been in crippling drought for the past seven years, which has major economic impact for everything out west.

We know you can’t make it rain, but you can make a positive impact. Simply visit Outback Queensland, help to drive dollars into small economies and make 2019 the Year of the Outback.

If you’ve been umming and ahing about a trip west for years, it’s time to load up the car, book a regional flight, buy a bus ticket or jump aboard a train. We’ve got eight good reasons to do Outback Queensland this year.

1. You can win one million dollars

Outback Queensland Masters, Outback Queensland | It's the year of the Outback: 8 reasons why you need to visit this year

Cue the Doctor Evil meme, you read it right, *one million dollars*.

That’s right, there’s one million dollars on the table if you join the Outback Queensland Masters (golf competition). 

The premise of this golf event which comes with a sizeable prize pool is simple – play your way across a number of courses in Outback Queensland before teeing off at the million-dollar hole in Mount Isa. If you successfully swing a hole-in-one at the million dollar hole, you’ll find 2019 is really your year of the Outback!

Whether you’re an amateur or pro – one thing’s for certain – you won’t be playing on your usual bright green course. You can expect to come home with red dirt in your caddy bag from this progressive tournament. 

2. There’s new experiences

Sunrise in Winton, Outback Queensland | It's the year of the Outback: 8 reasons why you need to visit this year

If you’ve already been there, done that and bought an Outback Queensland souvenir stubby cooler, 2019 gives new reason to revisit already travelled territory.

There’s 15 new outback tourism projects turning soil as you’re reading this blog post creating brand spanking new attractions for you to visit.

On the development list is swanky new luxury glamping, five-star artesian baths, a glass-floored bridge across Cobbold Gorge and a new home for Australia’s biggest fossil: Cooper the dinosaur.

Seriously, you’ll want to start brushing up on these Queensland drive routes to work out how you’re going to connect them all.

3. Your favourite events are returning

If you missed the inaugural Winton Way Out West Fest last year, you’ll be happy to know it’s back for a sequel performance. And it’s promising to be bigger and better than last year.

That’s saying something considering Winton swelled 10 times its size to 6500 for the first year of the festival. This is a feat that’s positively unheard of for most festivals, let alone a regional one.

Save the date for 25-28 April 2019 as Winton turns up the volume with acts including Amy Shark, Missy Higgins and San Cisco taking the stage.

While you’re in town, you might like to follow this 48-hour guide to Winton to see what lies beyond the festival borders.

4. Take a luxury walk

Trek West Tours, Outback Queensland | It's the year of the Outback: 8 reasons why you need to visit this year

Photo by @trekwest_

If you thought the only way to see the outback was through the window of a car, you need to see Trek West’s interpretation.

This is the kind of luxury guided walk you need in your life, traipsing the northern corner of Queensland. The only interruptions to stop you in your hiking tracks will be stunning vistas, rather than the trills of mobile phones (there’s no reception out here, folks).

Long days of hiking are rewarded with a gourmet cuisine and wine served under a blanket of stars.

Gourmet food isn’t the only thing that differs from the usual long-walk format, you can forget lugging large backpacks – there’s staff for that on this hike too.

5. The Oils are coming

Birdsville Big Red Bash, Outback Queensland | It's the year of the Outback: 8 reasons why you need to visit this year

If Australian rock legends Midnight Oil are coming to the Outback for their first multi-day Australian music festival in over 22 years, surely you can too?

Join Midnight Oil and 16 other Australian bands for three days and nights of rocking out in the desert at Birdsville’s Big Red Bash (here’s how to get there).

If you’re not familiar with the Birdsville Big Red Bash, the Simpson Desert becomes the set, with the 40m high Big Red Dune the backdrop to the main stage. They don’t call it the most remote music festival on the planet for no reason.

6. Party like it’s 1924

Cobb and Co Tours, Outback Queensland | It's the year of the Outback: 8 reasons why you need to visit this year

We do love a birthday cake – and The Year of the Outback gives plenty of reasons to eat it.

This year marks the 95th travel anniversary for the Cobb & Co Coach, and to celebrate, the Cobb & Co Festival will follow the last run of the service from Yuleba to Surat in August.

BYO horse or book a seat on one of the horse-drawn coaches to retrace every one of the 76km of Cobb & Co Mail Service No. 177. Giddy up!

7. See a before-and-after that rivals any TV show

Qantas Founders Museum, Longreach, Outback Queensland | It's the year of the Outback: 8 reasons why you need to visit this year

If you like makeover stories you’re going to love this one, which involves a Lockheed Super Constellation ‘Connie’ N4247K and the Qantas Founders Museum.

Qantas Founders Museum were the successful bidders to restore this clapped out aircraft. It had been grounded in Manila for 25 years, before making its way from the Philippines to Longreach via a logistic effort worthy of its own documentary.

The restoration project took three years with a team of volunteers piecing the iconic aircraft back to its former glory.

Said to be one of only 20 surviving Constellations in the world, it’s now on display at the Qantas Founders Museum. If you fancy yourself a plane aficionado or historian, simply follow this 48-hour guide to see it. 

8. There’s a helicopter tour you need in your life

There’s few views better than an aerial view over Outback Queensland, but until recently, there’s been limited ways to actually get one, short of buying a window seat with QantasLink, Virgin or REX Airlines.

Enter Fox Helicopters, who offer the smartest way to get an aerial view in their 40 minute scenic trip. Departing from the Torrens Creek Hotel, the flight follows the bends of the longest river in Queensland, the Flinders River, towards the pièce de résistance, White Mountains National Park.

Once only reserved for pilots and QPWS staff, Fox Helicopters offers unparalleled access to the remote wilderness of White Mountains National Park. The gorges, battlements and bluffs have to be seen to be believed.

So, have we convinced you to make 2019 your year of the Outback?

Have you been to Outback Queensland? What was your favourite thing to see and do?