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Young man and women sitting on beach in front of Apollo rental campervan

Alex Fern
/ Categories: AU Blog

Discover Outback Queensland on These 3 Road Trips.

When you think of Queensland travel, you might not immediately picture open outback roads or red desert, but these outback sights will make for a trip you won't forget!

Put down your digital devices, there’s a different kind of connectivity you need to indulge in this year, and it involves quality time with your friends and family, road tripping Outback Queensland. 

While the appeal of an outback road trip might be its ruggedness, you don’t need to sleep that way.

Whether you hire an Apollo campervan, motorhome or 4WD, your camper will be super comfortable, and the amenities included will be up to you.

Simply, pick up your camper of choice in Brisbane or Cairns and be sleeping under the stars out west in no time. 

Not sure where to start when there’s 901,574km2 of land ripe for exploring? Add these three routes to your travel-list.


1. Brisbane to Birdsville

Name: Warrego Way
Distance: 1581km
Allocate: At least eight days return if you want to have the chance to stop and smell the desert roses 
Vehicle type: 4WD only 

For a road trip that’s iconic with a capital “I”, pick up a camper in Brisbane and take the Warrego all the way to Birdsville.

On this trip, you’ll follow the footsteps (thankfully with the comfort of a 4WD camper) of Burke and Wills towards the most western reach of Queensland, where the Sunshine State meets the Simpson Desert.

The journey is all part of this adventure, which is best enjoyed with overnight stops in cattle-capital Roma, bilby-capital Charleville, opal-capital Quilpie and sandhill-capital, Windorah.

Your end point is Birdsville, a town of just 100 people, literally at the end of the Queensland road.

Birdsville’s allure is palpable, with some 60,000 visitors each year making it to this corner of Queensland, thanks to two major events (the Birdsville Races and Big Red Bash), a bakery that makes curried camel pies and hotel that’s been quenching weary travellers’ thirsts since 1884. 

To reach Birdsville, set aside at least eight days (return) if you want to spend more time out of your camper than in it.

If you’ve opted for a 4WD camper, and got the necessary written permissions at the time of booking, you’ve also got the option to explore the red sands of Munga-Thirri–Simpson Desert Conservation Park, home of Big Red.

Don’t rule out the first and largest sand dune of the Simpson Desert aka Big Red if you’re in a 2WD - there’s plenty of 4WD tours that leave from Birdsville in time for sunset atop the icon. 


2. Cairns to Mount Isa

Name: Overlanders Way
Distance: 904km
Allocate: A minimum of seven days return to drive the steps of early drovers, who led their cattle from the border to the beach

For a road trip that takes you from the beach to the bush on fully sealed roads, join the Overlanders Way which will take you from Townsville to Mount Isa.

Across 900km, spin mother nature’s colour wheel from the blues and greens of the reef to the reds and oranges of outback plains. 

Geology paints more than just a picture out here. It’s living evidence of a time when dinosaurs walked the planet and Outback Queensland was an inland sea.

Take your time across the Overlanders Way and embrace the spontaneity camper travel allows, staying an extra night or two when you’re keen to explore more.

As a rough itinerary, use the following towns as overnight stops along your adventure to ensure drive time is matched with daytime exploring: Charters Towers, Hughenden, Richmond, Julia Creek and Mount Isa. 

You’ll be spoilt for choice of caravan parks, including the award-winning Julia Creek Caravan Park which features mineral rich, bore-fed outdoor artesian baths. 

Nothin’ better than letting the minerals work their magic while you relax after a long drive. 

The towns dotted along the Overlanders Way not only allow you to learn about prehistoric times, but experience it too - exploring national parks, dusting for fossils or having your mind blown at museums with life size fibreglass replicas. 

Itching for more outback adventure? When you reach Mount Isa, either return the way you came or take a detour on Matilda Way or Savannah Way to double the road trip fun. 


3. Cairns to Brisbane

Name: Matilda Way
Distance: 1812km
Allocate: Five days is a comfortable pace, one way, but you’ll want to allocate more time if you intend on really indulging in the charms of each town along the way

If you’ve been there, done that and travelled the Pacific Coast Way, take the inland route through the iconic outback on the Matilda Way.

Named for its connection to Banjo Patterson and the famous Aussie anthem, this route links Karumba in the north with Cunnamulla in the south, across 1812km of vast outback landscape. 

Driving through the middle of Queensland, there’s plenty of time to soak in what this region is so famous for – warm, outback hospitality. 

There’s no shortage of campgrounds to assist your Matilda Way adventure, each promising the opportunity to meet other like-minded travellers around communal kitchens and campfires. 

From Cairns, you’ll need to take the Savannah Way to Karumba, before pointing your nose south where the Matilda Way leads you to towns like Cloncurry, Winton, Longreach, Barcaldine, and Cunnamulla.

Set aside at least a week to do the journey, more if you truly want to allocate more time to explore the likes of the dinosaur capital, Winton, where you can find evidence of the world’s only dinosaur stampede. 

From Cunnamulla, you’ll have the choice to connect back to Brisbane via the Warrego Way or continue on another outback route.

You’re at the jumping point for the Adventure Way, which runs parallel to the Warrego, delivering adventures in both its name and nature. 



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