The West - Explore Queensland West

The Outback and people the world over think of vast landscapes, clear blue skies and sweeping plains, remote communities rich in a history that reaches back to prehistoric times.

The Queensland Outback is the country that inspired Waltzing Matilda and the formation a new breed of politics, that saw Qantas take to the air, and gave us the stories of distinctive bush characters that Paul Hogan gave to the world, with Crocodile Dundee.

Today, sealed roads, heritage hotels, caravan parks, and friendly cattle stations means a holiday exploring the Outback is within everyone’s reach. But underneath all the modern facilities the country and its people haven’t changed.

Visit working cattle or sheep stations, go mustering by helicopter. Enjoy the thrill of surfing, or skiing, down inland rivers. Try fossicking for gemstones. View prehistoric relics. Visit modern mining complexes. Seek out the very waterhole that jolly swagman leapt into. Look out for the Min Min light.

Rolleston

Famous as part of the route in the Leichardt exploration that saw his party open up land through central/northern Queensland up to the Northern Territory.

Today Rolleston is a small town providing a vital hub to the local pastoral and coal mining industries, serviced by shops, hotel, school and caravan park.  

Carnarvon Gorge National Park

(turn off is 62km south of Rolleston off the Carnavon Developmental section of the Gregory Highway)

The spectacular gorge is carved through ancient white sandstone over millions of years, home to abundant wildlife, a wonderland of rainforest, towering cliffs and Aboriginal rock art sites. Camping available in some areas and a permit may apply. 

Springsure

66 km south of Emerald stands at the foot of a mass of basaltic rocks through which fresh spring waters filter, hence its name.  The town is famous for a rock structure known as the Virgin Rock, a formation showing the Virgin with child in arms. Not far away is Old Rainworth Fort, an historical precinct showcasing the early years of settlement. The Woolshed Information Centre, Rich Park Historical Park and Heritage-listed Hospital are other key places to see in Springsure.

Emerald

A hub to the mining industry, it’s also a vibrant pastoral, agriculture, irrigation and tourism sector. With all services of a large modern town, it offers diverse investment opportunities and a great place to work, rest and play.  Established in 1879 Emerald is the gateway to spectacular sandstone wilderness National Parks, Carnarvon Gorge, Minerva Range and Peak Range.

Getting there is no problem with daily airline links to Brisbane, Queensland Rail and bus services. Emerald is within an easy drive to the Capricorn Coast and Outback. 

Blackwater

The coal capital of Queensland it’s a vibrant family oriented town with motels, hotels, restaurants, shopping complex and other services; supports variety of industries from pastoral, mining and accommodation recognising the varied ethic cultures that made Blackwater what it is today. Visit Blackwater International Coal Centre to see the contribution coal mining has made to the Central Highlands and enquire about a tour of a local coal mine. 

Clermont 

gold brought settlers in 1881 and today visitors can hire metal detectors and try their hand at gold fossicking. The real gold today is black gold, steaming coal

The Information Centre is open weekdays between 8.30am and 5pm ( Wednesdays until 8pm) phone 4983 4755

Gemfields 

The towns of Anakie, Willows,Sapphire and Rubyvale make up the Sapphire Gemfields, 50 minutes drive west of Emerald, they’re the largest sapphire fields in the Southern Hemisphere.  Go fossicking for gems by either digging at a nominated area or buying a bucket of wash where all you have to do is sieve and sort.

If you wind up empty-handed, there’s always the gem galleries. Tour a walk-in underground sapphire mine or explore at your own pace.  The Sapphire Gemfields is something quite out of the ordinary and you’ll meet many characters from all over the world who try their luck there.  The annual Gemfest held in August,  is a celebration of the sapphire gem and lifestyle of the towns within the Sapphire Gemfields.

Capella

Capella Pioneer Village is a great way to experience life as it used to be with the Crafts Fair and Vintage Machinery Rally held in September each year. Providing a majestic backdrop to Capella, the volcanic plus of Peak Range National Park rise dramatically out of the landscape with drive trails for those seeking remote adventures.  Capella has shopping centre, Caravan park, motels, hotels and active community/aquatic centre.

Alpha

Alpha is a quiet, friendly rural township in the Jericho Shire, nestled on the reaches of Alpha Creek. The town is often described as the ’Gateway to the West’ if you are travelling from the coast.

The Rowley Roberts Visitor Information Centre is open each morning from 9:00 - 12:00. While there take a look in the Tivoli Museum to see a collection of local memorabilia.

60 kilometres east of Alpha is the Drummond Range Lookout, part of the Great Dividing Range. The peaceful township of Alpha has plenty of historical interest and natural beauty so take the time to stop and admire its charm.

Longreach

The chosen site in Longreach in central western Queensland was once a teamster's stop beside a large waterhole. From humble beginnings as a stock route junction on the 'long reach' of the Thomson River, the town is now serviced by road, rail and air.

Wildlife on the Thomson River can be enjoyed either in solitude on the river bank or on a river cruise boat. Visitors can experience Longreach district’s rural lifestyle by staying on a station. Visit the Stockman’s Hall of Fame and the Qantas Founders Museum. Go on a cruise on the Thomson River.

Winton

Winton is in the centre of Matilda Country, a diverse region in which vast Mitchell Grass plains are broken by magnificent coloured gorges, ridges and jump-ups. Use Winton as a staging post to visit Opalton, one of Queensland’s oldest opal fields; Combo Waterhole, reputedly the billabong of 'Waltzing Matilda' fame; and Lark Quarry, where 93 million year-old fossils capture a dinosaur stampede.

To learn more about Australia’s favourite song, visit the Waltzing Matilda Centre.

Boulia

Boulia is the mysterious heart of Queensland’s Outback. The real mystery is the existance of the Min Min light - a hovering ball of light that seems to have a mind of its own when it comes to teasing travellers. Though there have been many explanations offered, so far scientists remain baffled by the phenomenon. You don’t have to go bush to experience a Min Min encounter. The Boulia Min Min Encounter centre is in Herbert Street, a unique experience which will introduce you to the Min Min light.

Phone the tourist manager at Boulia Shire Council 4746 3386 for more details on your visit and road conditions.