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.
|Duration||9 Days||Itinerary Type||Land
|Distance||1985 Kilometres||Itinerary Route||Circuit
|Mode of Travel||Car||Level of Difficulty|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Located 4kms East of Moura on the Dawson Highway, you will come across the 150th Meridian Marker which shows the position of the imaginary line (150⁰E) on which Queensland's (Eastern Standard) time is based. Take a stroll through the history of Moura at the Museum, located in Gillespie Street. Then why not head to Gibihi Road where a viewing platform is located to see a dragline in action in a mining pit.
From Moura, it's 45 minutes to Biloela, passing through the township of Banana. No, not the fruit, the town is named after a particularly famous bullock used as a decoy to lure wild cattle into pens.
This is the agricultural heart of Central Queensland. Crops include cotton, sorghum, wheat, herbs and lucerne. 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.
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 Qld Heritage Park, 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.
|Start from:||180 Campbell Street, Rockhampton QLD 4700, Australia|
|End at:||144-160 National Highway 79, Longreach QLD 4730, Australia|
|Duration:||7 hours 49 mins|
|Start from:||144-160 National Highway 79, Longreach QLD 4730, Australia|
|End at:||13 Willow Street North, Barcaldine QLD 4725, Australia|
|Duration:||1 hour 12 mins|
|Start from:||13 Willow Street North, Barcaldine QLD 4725, Australia|
|End at:||68-70 Church Lane, Emerald QLD 4720, Australia|
|Duration:||3 hours 27 mins|
|Start from:||68-70 Church Lane, Emerald QLD 4720, Australia|
|End at:||49 Cairdbeign Street, Springsure QLD 4722, Australia|
|Start from:||49 Cairdbeign Street, Springsure QLD 4722, Australia|
|End at:||LOT 2 Obriens Road, Rewan QLD 4702, Australia|
|Duration:||2 hours 34 mins|
|Start from:||LOT 2 Obriens Road, Rewan QLD 4702, Australia|
|End at:||16 Oxley Avenue, Biloela QLD 4715, Australia|
|Duration:||4 hours 16 mins|
|Start from:||16 Oxley Avenue, Biloela QLD 4715, Australia|
|End at:||3 Glenmore Road, Park Avenue QLD 4701, Australia|
|Duration:||1 hour 59 mins|