Queensland Holidays - The Official Tourism Site for Queensland

Capricorn

Central Queensland Outback Drive
9 Days  / 1985 Kilometres

Central Queensland Outback Drive - Print Brochure
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Description

The nine day Central Queensland Outback Drive follows the Tropic of Capricorn west from Rockhampton, the Beef Capital of Australia. It takes you through Emerald and Barcaldine and the Sapphire Gemfields, to Longreach and Springsure in Queensland's Outback. Return to the coast and Rockhampton via Carnarvon Gorge National Park and Gladstone.


Photos



Journey Routes


  • Rockhampton to Emerald

    Rockhampton, the Beef Capital of Australia, is located on the Tropic of Capricorn, marked by the Tropic of Capricorn Spire at the visitor centre on Gladstone Road. Visit Mount Archer, and the restored Archer Park Railway Station. Travel west from Rockhampton through Duaringa to Dingo. This small town is famous for the World Championship Dingo Trap Contest held each year in July. 11 kilometres west of Dingo is the turn-off to the Blackdown Tableland National Park. Blackdown Tableland protects spectacular sandstone scenery with gorges and waterfalls. Nearby Blackwater is the heart of coal production in Central Queensland. Blackwater is also Sister City to Fujisawa in Japan. As a tribute, the local community have built a Japanese Garden. Emerald is the hub of the Central Highlands and the gateway to the Sapphire Gemfields. It offers shopping, restaurants and a range of accommodation. Local sights include Emerald railway station, the Botanic Gardens, Pioneer Village and Museum, the Art Gallery, Town Hall's fossilised tree and the huge reproduction of Van Gogh's Sunflowers. Visit Lake Maraboon, formed by Fairbairn Dam (30 minutes drive from Emerald). It's three times the size of Sydney Harbour, so there is plenty of space for picnic and watersports.
    More >

  • Emerald to Barcaldine

    Best to get an early start for a morning at the gemfields. At Rubyvale and Sapphire, you're in the midst of the largest sapphire fields in the Southern Hemisphere; so make time to have the chance to fossick for your own gems. Heading west from the Sapphire Gemfields, the Great Dividing Range is traversed at 444 metres above sea level between the townships of Alpha and Jericho. Alpha's striking street murals and art gallery are always popular attractions, whilst Jericho takes pride in its Crystal Trumpeters main street sculpture and Redbank Nature Reserve. Barcaldine holds a significant place in Australia's history. In the great shearer's strike of 1891 Barcaldine became the rallying point, and that led to the formation of the Australian Labour Party. The Tree of Knowledge is a monument to these times, and the Australian Workers Heritage Centre plays a key role in defining our national character. Bicentennial Botanical Park and the September Bougainvillea Garden competition compliments Barcaldine's title as the 'Garden City of the West'. You can choose from camping, caravan or motel accommodation in town for the night.
    More >

  • Barcaldine to Longreach

    Today's drive will take you though Ifracombe, a small western Queensland township of less than 350 people, which was once one of Australia's great wool growing districts. Onto Longreach, home of the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre, Qantas Founders Outback Museum and a wealth of entertainment and warm, country hospitality. Stay overnight in Longreach. Longreach offers a wide variety of accommodation including caravan parks, motels and hotels.
    More >

  • Longreach to Springsure

    Today's drive will take you along the Matilda Highway to Blackall, where a town tour reveals the original 'Black Stump' and a memorial to the famous shearer Jack Howe. Join a tour of the Blackall Woolscour where local characters bring the Golden Age of Wool to life. Further south on the Matilda Highway is the township of Tambo, where you can step back in time on the Tambo Heritage Walk. Watch as sheepskin teddy bears are created - named after local properties Tambo Teddies make a great souvenir! Turn off the highway and head east to Springsure. The town sits amongst a delightful valley with spectacular mountain range as the backdrop to the famous Virgin Rock, so named for its resemblance to the Virgin Mary. A visit to the Old Rainworth Fort will give you a chilling insight into the courageous and violent Aboriginal resistance to the encroachment of Europeans in 1860s. Spend the night in Springsure. The township offers caravan park and motel accommodation.
    More >

  • Springsure to Carnarvon Gorge, Carnarvon National Park

    About 71 kilometres south of Springsure is the tiny township of Rolleston which is the best access point to the remarkable Carnarvon National Park. The route from Rolleston to the park is 110 kilometres which includes approximately 20 kilometres of unsealed road. You need to spend a couple of days exploring the 30 kilometre chasm of Carnarvon Gorge with its white sandstone cliffs giving shelter to tropical plants including cycads and palms. Look out for Aboriginal rock art and see the rock pools and waterfalls of this stunning natural treasure. Camping is possible in the National Park only at certain times of the year and must be arranged in advance with the park ranger. Campers must be fully self-sufficient and will need to walk 9 kilometres from the car park into the national park. For alternative accommodation, you can only take cars and caravans as far as Takarakka where there are powered and unpowered sites. Cabin style accommodation is also available.
    More >





Journey Details

Duration9 Days Itinerary TypeLand
Distance1985 KilometresItinerary RouteCircuit
Mode of TravelCar
Level of DifficultyLevel of difficulty - 2

Facilities

  • Walking Tracks
    Walking Tracks

Activities

  • Animal Watching
    Animal Watching
  • Fossicking
    Fossicking
  • Swimming
    Swimming
  • Walking
    Walking
  • Self-Guided
    Self-Guided


Other Information

Children:
Yes.


Visit our Driving Safety and Advice page for more information or the RACQ website for the latest road conditions.

Central Queensland Outback Drive Full Itinerary


Rockhampton to Emerald

Rockhampton, the Beef Capital of Australia, is located on the Tropic of Capricorn, marked by the Tropic of Capricorn Spire at the visitor centre on Gladstone Road. Visit Mount Archer, and the restored Archer Park Railway Station.

Travel west from Rockhampton through Duaringa to Dingo. This small town is famous for the World Championship Dingo Trap Contest held each year in July.

11 kilometres west of Dingo is the turn-off to the Blackdown Tableland National Park. Blackdown Tableland protects spectacular sandstone scenery with gorges and waterfalls.

Nearby Blackwater is the heart of coal production in Central Queensland. Blackwater is also Sister City to Fujisawa in Japan. As a tribute, the local community have built a Japanese Garden.

Emerald is the hub of the Central Highlands and the gateway to the Sapphire Gemfields. It offers shopping, restaurants and a range of accommodation. Local sights include Emerald railway station, the Botanic Gardens, Pioneer Village and Museum, the Art Gallery, Town Hall's fossilised tree and the huge reproduction of Van Gogh's Sunflowers.

Visit Lake Maraboon, formed by Fairbairn Dam (30 minutes drive from Emerald). It's three times the size of Sydney Harbour, so there is plenty of space for picnic and watersports.



Route Details

Distance:
271 Kilometres
Mode of Travel:
Car
Route Type:
One Way

Experiences
  • Adventure
    Adventure
  • Family Friendly
    Family Friendly
  • Historic/Heritage
    Historic/Heritage
  • Lakes/Rivers/Dams
    Waterways
  • Nature based
    Nature based
  • Shopping
    Shopping


Level of Difficulty
Level of difficulty - 2



Emerald to Barcaldine

Best to get an early start for a morning at the gemfields. At Rubyvale and Sapphire, you're in the midst of the largest sapphire fields in the Southern Hemisphere; so make time to have the chance to fossick for your own gems.

Heading west from the Sapphire Gemfields, the Great Dividing Range is traversed at 444 metres above sea level between the townships of Alpha and Jericho. Alpha's striking street murals and art gallery are always popular attractions, whilst Jericho takes pride in its Crystal Trumpeters main street sculpture and Redbank Nature Reserve.

Barcaldine holds a significant place in Australia's history. In the great shearer's strike of 1891 Barcaldine became the rallying point, and that led to the formation of the Australian Labour Party. The Tree of Knowledge is a monument to these times, and the Australian Workers Heritage Centre plays a key role in defining our national character.

Bicentennial Botanical Park and the September Bougainvillea Garden competition compliments Barcaldine's title as the 'Garden City of the West'.

You can choose from camping, caravan or motel accommodation in town for the night.



Route Details

Distance:
310 Kilometres
Mode of Travel:
Car
Route Type:
One Way

Experiences
  • Family Friendly
    Family Friendly
  • Historic/Heritage
    Historic/Heritage
  • Industry/Mining/Agriculture
    Industry/Mining/Agriculture
  • Nature based
    Nature based
  • Outback
    Outback


Level of Difficulty
Level of difficulty - 2



Barcaldine to Longreach

Today's drive will take you though Ifracombe, a small western Queensland township of less than 350 people, which was once one of Australia's great wool growing districts.

Onto Longreach, home of the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre, Qantas Founders Outback Museum and a wealth of entertainment and warm, country hospitality.

Stay overnight in Longreach. Longreach offers a wide variety of accommodation including caravan parks, motels and hotels.



Route Details

Distance:
107 Kilometres
Mode of Travel:
Car
Route Type:
One Way

Experiences
  • Family Friendly
    Family Friendly
  • Historic/Heritage
    Historic/Heritage
  • Outback
    Outback


Level of Difficulty
Level of difficulty - 2



Longreach to Springsure

Today's drive will take you along the Matilda Highway to Blackall, where a town tour reveals the original 'Black Stump' and a memorial to the famous shearer Jack Howe. Join a tour of the Blackall Woolscour where local characters bring the Golden Age of Wool to life.

Further south on the Matilda Highway is the township of Tambo, where you can step back in time on the Tambo Heritage Walk. Watch as sheepskin teddy bears are created - named after local properties Tambo Teddies make a great souvenir!

Turn off the highway and head east to Springsure. The town sits amongst a delightful valley with spectacular mountain range as the backdrop to the famous Virgin Rock, so named for its resemblance to the Virgin Mary. A visit to the Old Rainworth Fort will give you a chilling insight into the courageous and violent Aboriginal resistance to the encroachment of Europeans in 1860s.

Spend the night in Springsure. The township offers caravan park and motel accommodation.



Route Details

Distance:
558 Kilometres
Mode of Travel:
Car
Route Type:
One Way

Experiences
  • Family Friendly
    Family Friendly
  • Historic/Heritage
    Historic/Heritage
  • Outback
    Outback


Level of Difficulty
Level of difficulty - 3



Springsure to Carnarvon Gorge, Carnarvon National Park

About 71 kilometres south of Springsure is the tiny township of Rolleston which is the best access point to the remarkable Carnarvon National Park. The route from Rolleston to the park is 110 kilometres which includes approximately 20 kilometres of unsealed road.

You need to spend a couple of days exploring the 30 kilometre chasm of Carnarvon Gorge with its white sandstone cliffs giving shelter to tropical plants including cycads and palms. Look out for Aboriginal rock art and see the rock pools and waterfalls of this stunning natural treasure.

Camping is possible in the National Park only at certain times of the year and must be arranged in advance with the park ranger. Campers must be fully self-sufficient and will need to walk 9 kilometres from the car park into the national park.

For alternative accommodation, you can only take cars and caravans as far as Takarakka where there are powered and unpowered sites.

Cabin style accommodation is also available.



Route Details

Distance:
181 Kilometres
Mode of Travel:
Car
Route Type:
One Way

Experiences
  • Adventure
    Adventure
  • Family Friendly
    Family Friendly
  • Flora/Fauna
    Flora/Fauna
  • Lakes/Rivers/Dams
    Waterways
  • Nature based
    Nature based
  • Outback
    Outback
  • Rainforest
    Rainforest


Level of Difficulty
Level of difficulty - 3



Carnarvon Gorge, Carnarvon National Park to Biloela

The drive to Biloela will take you back to Rolleston, then east along the Dawson Highway. You will pass through Moura, originally a farming service centre that has been transformed into one of Central Queensland's most famous mining towns. Private visits to the Moura mine can be made by prior arrangement with the manager and the local taxi service conducts daily tours of the mine, which depart from the Eat Retreat Cafe.

From Moura its 45 minutes to Biloela, passing through the township of Banana. No not the fruit, the town is named after a particularly famous prize winning bullock.

This is the agricultural heart of Central Queensland. Crops including cotton, sorghum, wheat, herbs and spices. There is also a huge cattle industry with the largest number of cattle of any Shire in Queensland.

Accommodation for the night includes several motels; farmstays are also available in the local area.



Route Details

Distance:
307 Kilometres
Mode of Travel:
Car
Route Type:
One Way

Experiences
  • Family Friendly
    Family Friendly
  • Industry/Mining/Agriculture
    Industry/Mining/Agriculture
  • Outback
    Outback


Level of Difficulty
Level of difficulty - 3



Biloela to Rockhampton

View Detailed Map >

In the Biloela area, visit Greycliffe Station, a beautifully preserved slab hut dating back to the 1870s which has been converted into a museum, and The SILO, Australia's Primary Industries Exhibition offers educational tours and a chance to visit a variety of farm animals, ranging from donkeys to ostriches.

About 12 kilometres to the south of town is Mount Scoria, a strange basalt formation about 150 metres high with symmetrically shaped rocks which look like a giant staircase. Nearby, the Callide Power Station offers guided tours of the complex. Just east of Biloela is Kroombit Tops National Park, worth a side-trip if you have a 4WD. Most of the road to the park is unsealed.

Originally a penal colony, Gladstone City is now Queensland's largest port. Take a drive up to The William Golding Memorial Lookout atop Auckland Hill for a view over Port Curtis and the Gladstone Marina.

Take a walk through Gladstone's Tondoon Botanic Gardens, located along Glenlyon Road. Covering 55 hectares, the gardens include lakes, cascades, an herbarium and arboretum and an interpretive nature trail.

Before returning to Rockhampton, stop and take a look through the Port Curtis Historic Village, located on the Bruce Highway.



Route Details

Distance:
251 Kilometres
Mode of Travel:
Car
Route Type:
One Way

Experiences
  • Family Friendly
    Family Friendly
  • Flora/Fauna
    Flora/Fauna
  • Historic/Heritage
    Historic/Heritage
  • Industry/Mining/Agriculture
    Industry/Mining/Agriculture
  • Lakes/Rivers/Dams
    Waterways
  • Nature based
    Nature based


Level of Difficulty
Level of difficulty - 2



Map Legend / Show on Map

Itinerary Routes



Nearby Information

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Driving Directions

1 - Rockhampton to Emerald
Start from:180 Campbell Street, Rockhampton QLD 4700, Australia
End at:144-160 National Highway 79, Longreach QLD 4730, Australia
Distance:688 km
Duration:7 hours 23 mins
Directions:
  1. Head northwest on Campbell St toward Cambridge St
  2. Take the 1st left onto Cambridge St
  3. Take the 2nd left onto National Highway A1
  4. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Capricorn Hwy/A4 heading to Gracemere/Emerald
    Go through 1 roundabout
  5. Turn left to stay on Capricorn Hwy/A4 (signs for Barcaldine)
  6. Turn right onto Capricorn Hwy
  7. Continue straight onto National Highway A2 (signs for Longreach/Landsborough Highway)
    Go through 1 roundabout
  8. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto National Highway 79
2 - Emerald to Barcaldine
Start from:144-160 National Highway 79, Longreach QLD 4730, Australia
End at:13 Willow Street North, Barcaldine QLD 4725, Australia
Distance:109 km
Duration:1 hour 11 mins
Directions:
  1. Head northeast on National Highway 79 toward Pelican St
  2. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto National Highway A2
    Go through 1 roundabout
  3. Continue onto Capricorn Hwy
  4. Turn left onto Barcaldine-Aramac Rd (signs for Route 19/Aramac)
    Destination will be on the right
3 - Barcaldine to Longreach
Start from:13 Willow Street North, Barcaldine QLD 4725, Australia
End at:68-70 Church Lane, Emerald QLD 4720, Australia
Distance:310 km
Duration:3 hours 26 mins
Directions:
  1. Head southeast on Barcaldine-Aramac Rd toward Myrtle St
  2. Turn left onto Capricorn Hwy
  3. Turn left to stay on Capricorn Hwy
  4. Turn right onto Capricorn Hwy/A4 (signs for Anakie/Emerald)
  5. Turn left onto Opal St
    Go through 1 roundabout
  6. Turn left onto Church Ln
    Destination will be on the left
4 - Longreach to Springsure
Start from:68-70 Church Lane, Emerald QLD 4720, Australia
End at:49 Cairdbeign Street, Springsure QLD 4722, Australia
Distance:68.2 km
Duration:47 mins
Directions:
  1. Head southeast on Church Ln toward Opal St
  2. Take the 1st right onto Opal St
  3. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Egerton St
  4. Egerton St turns slightly right and becomes Max Gorlick Drive
  5. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Capricorn Hwy
  6. Turn right onto Gregory Hwy/A7 (signs for Springsure/Roma)
  7. Slight left toward Gregory Hwy
  8. Slight left onto Gregory Hwy
  9. Continue onto Dawson Hwy
  10. Turn left onto Charles St
  11. Turn left onto Cairdbeign St
    Destination will be on the right
5 - Springsure to Carnarvon Gorge, Carnarvon National Park
Start from:49 Cairdbeign Street, Springsure QLD 4722, Australia
End at:LOT 2 Obriens Road, Rewan QLD 4702, Australia
Distance:168 km
Duration:2 hours 30 mins
Directions:
  1. Head southwest on Cairdbeign St toward Charles St
  2. Turn left onto Dawson Hwy
  3. Turn right onto Carnarvon Hwy/A7 (signs for Carnarvon Highway/Injune/Dawson Highway/State Route 60)
  4. Turn right onto Wyseby Rd (signs for Route 2/Central Highlands Tourist Route)
  5. Turn left onto Obriens Rd
  6. Slight right to stay on Obriens Rd
    Destination will be on the left
6 - Carnarvon Gorge, Carnarvon National Park to Biloela
Start from:LOT 2 Obriens Road, Rewan QLD 4702, Australia
End at:16 Oxley Avenue, Biloela QLD 4715, Australia
Distance:314 km
Duration:4 hours 11 mins
Directions:
  1. Head east on Obriens Rd
  2. Turn right onto Wyseby Rd
  3. Turn left onto Carnarvon Hwy/A7 (signs for Rolleston/Carnarvon Highway)
  4. Continue onto Dawson Hwy (signs for A7/Dawson Highway/Rolleston)
  5. Slight right to stay on Dawson Hwy (signs for Biloela/Gladstone/Route 60)
  6. Turn left onto Dunn St
  7. Turn left
7 - Biloela to Rockhampton
Start from:16 Oxley Avenue, Biloela QLD 4715, Australia
End at:3 Glenmore Road, Park Avenue QLD 4701, Australia
Distance:158 km
Duration:1 hour 49 mins
Directions:
  1. Head northeast toward Dunn St
  2. Turn right onto Dunn St
  3. Turn right onto Dawson Hwy
  4. Turn right onto Burnett Hwy
  5. Slight left onto Leichhardt Hwy
  6. Turn right onto Capricorn Hwy (signs for A4/Gracemere/Rockhampton)
  7. Slight left toward National Highway A1
  8. Continue straight onto National Highway A1
  9. Turn right onto Fitzroy St
  10. Take the exit toward Ashney St
  11. Turn left onto Ashney St
  12. Continue onto Bridge St
  13. Continue onto Glenmore Rd




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