Image: Outback Qld Tourism
An Outback Queensland road trip has always been something I dreamed of doing. I desperately wanted to experience the wide open spaces, the happy and easy-going people, the quirky sense of humour that all locals are renowned for in these regions plus the burning desire to see The Australian Stockman’s Hall Of Fame had gotten to a point where I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I had to take some action.
To be honest it was very daunting when I first sat down to figure out how I was going to pull this trip off. It was a long way from home, I had Charlie in daycare, Trev running his business, I wanted my Dad to join us and I knew we’d have to keep a good eye on our budget. To add to the mix, I also was driving a little Toyota Yaris and so the planned upgrade to a bigger vehicle would have to be brought forward.
There was so much to consider, I had never been out there. Was it safe? Will my mobile phone work? Will I be able to get groceries or other supplies easily? Will Charlie be bored out of his brain? I just kept thinking ‘Liz, How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time’. I broke it down into little sections, did my research online, worked out a budget and by the time we were ready to go our friends Bryan and Tania and their two kids Mikayla and Seth also decided to join in on our Outback Queensland adventure!
Because of the amount of places we visited and experiences we had on our trip I have created a blog series, this being Part One. Our Outback Queensland adventure began in Cunnamulla known as ‘The Gateway to the Outback’.
Cunnamulla was one of the warmest and most welcoming towns we visited on our road trip. It was spotlessly clean, so peaceful and serene. Everyone we met went out of their way to make our stay as enjoyable as possible.
Cunnamulla main street
Cracking Whips And Campfires
When we arrived at our accommodation we were told about a campfire dinner that was taking place at a local hotel and that they could organise a courtesy bus to collect us and bring us home…hell yeah! What a great night it was.
We shared a large open fire pit with other groups visiting the area and listened to one of the locals share their stories, recite some poetry and later show us their whip cracking skills while we had the most to-die- for roast dinner. This was followed by an equally delicious bread and butter pudding with ice cream. Hot tea and coffee was served and drinks were available at the bar. It was the perfect way to finish a day of travelling.
Learning how a whip is created.
We woke up to a gorgeous crisp, clear day with kangaroos catching some morning sunshine.
We made our way to the main street to Boulders Cafe where our group had the usual caffeine hit. The coffee and service didn’t disappoint one bit and the cafe itself was bright and airy with a great display of photographs and artworks to check out while you wait or enjoy your break.
It was a Monday but you wouldn’t have thought it. The town was so quiet; I could have really gotten used to this.
We visited the Cunnamulla Fella statue which pays tribute to Stan Coster and Slim Dusty’s song by the same name and looked through the visitor centre, again we spent so long chatting to the attendant and feeling so comfortable and welcome.
Although we didn’t have enough time to go in and have a look, The Cunnamulla Fella Centre is based within the Visitors Centre and has great reviews. There is a time tunnel experience which details how the artesian basin was formed, the gallery features beautiful artworks by local artists and the museum provides a wealth of information on local history. All lovingly and proudly exhibited.
The Cunnamulla Fella Centre
Mikayla, Charlie and The Cunnamulla Fella
We recommend staying at The Warrego Riverside Tourist Park. A really well-run park with spotlessly clean and tidy amenities, beautiful gardens and green lawn – even during such a harsh drought. It is situated just out of town on the banks of the Warrego. It felt very safe, secure and private. There is a great camp kitchen and each night they have a happy hour and campfire where you can kick back, relax and meet some new friends. They offer powered, un-powered and camping sites.
We were all looking forward to seeing Charleville. At the top of our must see list was The Bilby Centre and The Cosmos Centre.
Once we arrived we made a bee line to the Cosmos Centre for their guided tour and information session. It was really interesting. The kids loved it and got to hold a real meteorite in their hands and watch a movie on the big screen. There were also lots of interactive games and machines that helped you gain a better understanding of the cosmos. We couldn’t leave without booking in to view the stars and planets later that night and finished our visit with a great cuppa in their onsite café.
The Cosmos Centre
Tourism and Events Queensland
Tourism and Events Queensland
Later that afternoon we received a call from The Cosmos Centre to say there was too much cloud cover and therefore they wouldn’t be operating the observatory that evening. Bit sad for my astronomy geek Husband as I know he was looking forward to it, but not much you can do when mother nature doesn’t want to co-operate.
Cute And Cuddly
Looks like Bilbies it is! These cute little critters are under threat and on the endangered list.
The evening session kicks off at 5pm (only prior to October 1). It costs $15 per person, $10 per child (under 10 yrs) and 4 yrs and under are free.
Upon entry there is a talk about the Bilby, the little animal’s extinction crisis and The Save The Bilby Fund. You then begin a tour where you can see them in a nocturnal environment which has been set up in the historic Charleville Railway Station.
The work that is being done for these little guys is wonderful. They rely on donations and everything they raise from their tours and souveniers go toward their selfless work so please buy yourself a cuddly bilby teddy like we did and lend a hand.
The Bilby Centre
Image: Matthew Taylor/Tourism and Events Queensland.
We stayed the night at Bailey Bar Caravan Park while in Charleville. Upon check-in we got a lovely surprise with an upgrade to their superior en-suited cabin! Winner!
The amenities were great. Everything was beautifully clean and well maintained and the staff couldn’t do enough to help us out.
Prices start from $37 for a powered site and $105 for an ensuited cabin per night.
It is such a fun place to stay for families with great entertainment of a night including yabbie races, lamb on the spit dinners and camp oven meals. These nights are a fantastic opportunity to meet some new friends and like-minded travellers, share some travel stories, find out where others have been and any road closures or things up ahead in your trip to be mindful of. It’s also a great excuse for the children to have a play with some new kids and enjoy themselves while the adults relax having a drink and a meal that you didn’t have to prepare yourself!
We met an older couple while having our campfire dinner at Cunnamulla the night before and then later discovered the caravan parked adjacent to our cabin in Charleville was theirs. As fate would have it when we proceeded on to Longreach they were behind us in the check- in line at our accommodation there too! They later joined us for dinner that night and by the end of the night Charlie had two substitute Grandparents!
Our cabin for the night
So Much To See And Do
Unfortunately due to time restraints we didn’t get to see a whole lot of Charleville but the feel you get when you enter the town is so easy-going and laid back. I instantly loved the place and was daydreaming of ways to move my family there. The main street has a little more hustle and bustle (if you can call it that) than other outback towns, but it was still so carefree. You felt like a local and I imagine everyone would know each other. Just going to the newsagency and bakery before we set off it was easy to see how happy and cheerful everyone is who lives here. I wish I could have spent so much longer.
Visiting Cunnamulla and Charleville at the start of our roadtrip was the perfect way to start our outback adventure. The people are amazing, so helpful, friendly and inviting. Everyone says “Hi” as they pass you in the street, service in a store is done with eye contact, a warm smile and a little chit chat. As a parent you never, ever feel scared for your child’s safety. It’s such a great feeling to be more laid-back when it comes to your kids running free or exploring. The peace and quiet is medicine for the soul and it’s amazing how your mobile phone doesn’t have the same appeal as it does at home.
Charleville main street
My concerns regarding mobile phone coverage in an emergency proved to be unwarranted with our coverage rarely dropping out. It’s also amazing how when it all boils down and kids aren’t surrounded by their screens, Pokemons and Avengers they are all the same in the end. Give them a tree to climb, some chooks to chase or a ball to kick and they’ll be amused for ages. Groceries were also no problem, sure the IGA supermarket might not have the range you might be accustomed to and may be slightly more expensive but you can usually find what you are after.
Next time we visit (and i’m already dropping hints to Trev about when our next time will be) I will make sure we have more time as there really is so much more to see and enjoy.
Do your family a favour and experience it for yourself. You won’t regret it and your children will remember it forever.
Follow our Outback Queensland Adventure as we continue on to Tambo, Blackall and Barcaldine here.