Woolscour Blackall Outback Queensland

Why you should take a family trip to Outback Queensland

A family trip to Outback Queensland may not immediately spring to mind as an obvious choice, but we’re not offended. Just rewind your mind back to a time when you were a kid to realise why this is one magical family experience.

Even if it didn’t happen in your own childhood, think how exciting it would have been to see mum and dad packing up the trusty Holden Commodore station wagon, or hitching up the caravan and taking off on an epic road trip adventure to places that sounded too good to even be real? Places where dinosaurs once roamed, gemstones could be fossicked, and each night by the campfire you would sit sharing stories under a sky filled with a million stars.

Well, these places are real, so pack the kids, the car and the caravan and head to a place where the true blue essence of your favourite family holiday lives.

Discover dinosaurs

Not just Australia’s, but the world’s only Dinosaur Trail can be found in Outback Queensland. Take the 215 km drive via the towns of Winton, Hughendon and Richmond to discover a past where a giant inland sea once existed filled with creatures of epic proportions.

Your kids will love trading the classroom and books for some interactive, hands-on learning at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, home to the largest collection of fossils on the planet. Take a walk on the wild side at Dinosaur Canyon for not only killer views, but also a fascinating dinosaur lesson your kids will be able to teach to their teachers. Take a guided tour of the Collection Room where you will find three of Australia’s most complete dinosaur skeletons. Be prepared: your kids will all want to be Paleontologists after this.

Challenge your kids to compare their footprints to those of real-life dinosaurs at Dinosaur Stampede Monument at Lake Quarry Conservation Park, 110 kilometres from Winton. This is the place that Steven Spielberg took inspiration for the stampede sequence in Jurassic Park – the only difference is, here it’s the real deal. 

For another date with a dinosaur, head further to Hughendon. The kids’ eyes will pop when they meet Hughie – the Murraburrasaurus replica standing in the main street at four metres high and eight metres long. The real Hughie was found near here in 1962. And don’t worry; he’s a herbivore.

Taking off

Qantas Founders Museum Longreach

Almost 100 years ago, and celebrating its centenary next year, QANTAS took off in Longreach. The history of Australia’s own airline is steeped in the kind of spirit Australians are renowned for, but that won’t impress your little Aussies – they’ll just want to get their hands and feet on the planes.

At the QANTAS Founders Museum they can. Think interactive aircraft exhibits, flight simulator, cadet corner for little frequent flyers and a challenge for the bigger kids to follow clues around to learn while having fun. And if you’re visiting in 2020, check out the brand new ‘Luminescent Longreach’ light show.

While the kids wander, feel your heart swell to the backing track of “I still call Australian home” and sing it loudly with the windows down as you drive off up the highway later – your kids need to log a family road trip sing-along memory too, right?

Another land before time

There really is no shortage of history here, but one for the little geologists is Undara National Park. It’s home to the world’s oldest, but also longest lava tube system.

If you’re around for sunset, join the Undara Experience tour that includes wildlife spotting – the tubes are called home to many, but the kids will really love the micro-bats. It’s also a great place for them to try to spot the elusive echidna, meet some macropods and, if you’re lucky, a cloud of butterflies too.

Treasure Outback

Yowah opal field tour

You’ve heard of Treasure Island. Well, this is treasure Outback, so get ready to dig. Here’s another one for your little geologists where they might just uncover a rainbow-hued opal treasure at Yowah, 1,000 kms west of Brisbane and 130 kms west of Cunnamulla.

Yowah Nuts are a thing here, and may contain an opal kernel, so dig, crack and hopefully score. Either way, your family will enjoy the excitement of trying. Opals can also be found at Quilpie and Opalton, so pack your pickers and make sure you only fossick on land designated for the general public.

Gorgeous Gorge

If you’re visiting Undara National Park, consider heading further west to Cobbold Gorge. When it comes to gorges, there is none more gorgeous than Cobbold, which also happens to be a toddler in geographic terms, at a mere 10,000 years old.

Cobbold Gorge now sports a brand new, state-of-the-art glass bridge to cross and see the majestic waters and narrow gorge from a bird’s eye perspective. But you also have the option to join a cruise, take out a paddleboard or have a refreshing swim in the jade green waters. Freshwater crocodiles do call the gorge home too, so swimming might not be for you. But in any case, it’s a beautiful slice of Outback Queensland that is often considered one of its best.

Saddle up

Kinnon and Co Longreach | family trip Outback Queensland

Hear the whips crack and feel the air bristle at the Outback Stockman’s Show. Aspiring Jackaroos and Jillaroos take note, to be a stockman (or woman) out here, you’ll need to be hardy. But life on the land is an incredible adventure and the stories of these true blue Aussie icons will make your heart soar.

For something a little more hands-on for the kids, join the Outback Queensland kids club at Camden Station. Run by the Walker family, they literally open their home to invite you in to sample outback life on a working cattle and sheep station. Located on an artisan spring, your kids will love swimming in an authentic outback swimming pool while you enjoy afternoon tea.

For another spectacular lookout in Longreach, Starlights Lookout is a popular place to indulge in some Australian folklore. Ask any of the locals in Longreach, and they’ll have many stories to tell about the man the lookout is named after – Harry Redford AKA Captain Starlight. He’s said to have been a bushman and a thief, stealing a prized herd of over 1000 cattle and passing through here on his way to sell them in South Australia. Kids will love hearing about this larrikin and, truth or not, an Aussie bush tale of a man now considered a bit of an iconic local legend.

Stargazers

Even the smallest of stargazers will delight in seeing the blanket of stars in the Queensland Outback twinkle like a trillion diamonds. At the Charleville Cosmos Centre and Observatory, learn about star clusters, planets, nebulae, the Milky Way and our place in the greater solar system.

They roll back the roof here, and guides are on hand to share their passion for all things off the planet.

Come a-Waltzing Matilda

Waltzing Matilda centre | Winton

Winton has many firsts, including the first time Australia’s favourite bush ballad, as written by poet Banjo Paterson, was played at the Gregory Hotel in 1895. If the kids don’t know the lyrics already, what better place to learn them than piano-side at the place where they were first shared? Waltzing Matilda is also the only song to have its own eponymous museum, also in Winton. A trip to Winton’s musical fence (another world first) will keep them entertained for ages, bashing out tunes on all sorts of metal objects pinned to the fence to encourage Outback Queensland’s own style of sensory play.

The Queensland Outback really is one giant classroom, but it will not just be your kids learning a thing or two about the bush. So pack their backpacks, and give them a passport to get dirty.