This educational 11-day itinerary explores a remote area of Australia for an adventure rarely experienced by the average traveler. Starting in Brisbane, you'll travel through a series of small distinct towns in Queensland's outback brimming with pioneer history, stunning scenery, and a mix of activities that run the gamut from cattle herding to bushwalking to touching dinosaur fossils, to name a few.

Highlights

  • Take a river cruise in Brisbane and get up close to cuddly koalas
  • Stay overnight at a working cattle ranch with activities like tennis and canoeing
  • Walk along the wing of a vintage Qantas aircraft in Longreach
  • Learn about Australia's most famous dinosaur fossils in Winton
  • See an open-air VanGogh painting in a town known for sunflower production

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Brisbane Brisbane
Day 2 Brisbane to Mitchell - Bonus Downs Homestead Mitchell
Day 3 Mitchell to Barcaldine - Continue to Longreach Longreach
Day 4 Longreach Free Day Longreach
Day 5 Qantas Founders Museum Longreach
Day 6 Stockman's Hall of Fame Longreach
Day 7 Longreach to Winton Longreach
Day 8 Winton to Emerald Emerald 
Day 9 Emerald to Roma Roma
Day 10 Roma to Toowoomba Toowoomba
Day 11 Toowoomba to Brisbane - Depart Brisbane  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Brisbane

Brisbane the River City
Brisbane's scenic location on the Brisbane River

Welcome to the capital of Queensland: Brisbane! Upon arrival, you'll transfer to your hotel for some time rest after the long journey. How you spend the rest of the day is up to you. Consider a half-day cruise along the Brisbane River where you can visit Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary for a glimpse of some of Australia's wildlife, including (of course) koala bears.

Alternately, there is plenty to see in Brisbane's Central Business District. Explore on your own or arrange a city tour to experience some of the top sites. Don't forget to climb Mount Coot-Tha—a great spot for panoramic views of the city and Moreton Bay—before returning to your hotel. 

Day 2: Brisbane to Mitchell - Bonus Downs Homestead

Spend the night on a cattle ranch

After breakfast in Brisbane, you'll hit the road. The outback adventure begins in the town of Mitchell where you'll take part in an overnight adventure at Bonus Downs, a homestead built in 1911 by Sir Samuel McCaughey. This was one of the country’s most famous landholders who contributed to Australia’s rural progress when it was a young and developing country. The homestead today has been lovingly restored by its current owners, Madonna and Lyle Connolly, who are passionate about their beautiful property and eager to share stories. 

This unique lodging experience offers a plethora of activities within its 33,000-acre playground. Options include: 

  • Assist with weeding and trimming the onsite gardens
  • Take part in a range of cattle chores 
  • Play tennis or paddle a canoe
  • Bushwalk or cycle in the surrounding rainforest
  • Read a book on the verandah
  • Sign up for a staff tour to learn more about the property's history

All meals are included during your stay and may include the use of a traditional smokehouse with a roast spit, as well as an outdoor barbecue. After dinner, simply look up to the stars or take part in a range of evening activities held on the grounds. 

Day 3: Mitchell to Barcaldine - Continue to Longreach

Look for kangaroos in the outback

After breakfast at Bonus Downs, you'll get back on the road for the drive to Barcaldine, nicknamed 'Garden City of the West'. 

Barcaldine has an interesting and famous history. The name originates from a region in Scotland and is pronounced bar-call-din. Its claim to fame is the Tree of Knowledge, the reputed birthplace of the Labour Movement in Australia. The actual tree grew outside the Railway Station for about 180 years until 2006 when, sadly, it was poisoned by an unknown culprit. Since then, the famous tree has been preserved and placed under an award-winning structure that gives the illusion of a canopy. Moreover, every street in this town of 1,300 people is named after a tree, so you'll easily see how Barcaldine received its moniker. 

In the afternoon, continue driving to the town of Longreach where you'll be based for the next few nights. Known as the ‘heart of the Outback’ there’s lots to love about this remote area known for stockmen, shearers, and epic sunsets.

Day 4: Longreach Free Day

Explore the natural beauty near Longreach

Today is a free day to enjoy the town of Longreach. With plenty of iconic attractions set amidst a wonderful natural landscape, this unique and friendly outback town is a fun place to explore.

Keep in mind that in coming days, you'll immerse yourself in history at the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame as well as the Qantas (the Australian airline) Founders Museum, so today is your opportunity to check out some other points of interest. You can visit the Longreach Region Visitor Information Centre for ideas or consider these suggestions:

  • Cruises, Tours & Outback Shows: Outback Aussie Tours offers evening cruises on the Thomson River complete with entertainment or romantic candlelit dinners in the bush during sunset.

  • Outback Pioneers: Cobb & Co. offers coach tours where you'll visit a historic working station and see an Old Time Tent Show. 

  • Camden Park Station Tour: This is your chance to meet the local Walker family for a tour of their historic property, which includes a working sheep and cattle station. 

  • Longreach Powerhouse Museum: Visit the largest preserved rural generating facility in Australia with historic exhibits centered around powerhouse generating equipment of a bygone era.

  • School of Distance Education: Take a fascinating tour through one of the largest classrooms in the world.

Day 5: Qantas Founders Museum

Qantas Founders Museum
Get up close to vintage aircraft

Today, you'll spend the day at the Qantas Founders Museum. This world-class attraction commemorates the founders of this great Australian company that became a leader in world aviation. 

In fact, Qantas is the oldest airline in the English-speaking world—and the second oldest in the entire world—and it was founded here in Longreach. During your tour of the museum, you can visit the decommissioned Qantas B747 and 707 as well as other historic aircraft used by the company on display. You can also take a wing walk and test your skills in the flight simulator.

Day 6: Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame

Spend the day at this iconic museum

Today you'll get to experience the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, circa 1988, which pays tribute to Australia’s pioneering legends.

The museum, stunningly constructed from timber, stone and corrugated iron, is truly reminiscent of the outback. With its unique design, the Hall of Fame stands comfortably amongst the rugged yet vibrant rural landscape. Inside, the museum's five themed galleries proudly display the history behind some of Australia’s greatest and bravest explorers, stock workers, pastoralist, and Aborigines. The exhibits comprising an eclectic mix of objects, images, touch screens, audio-visual presentations, and open displays, allowing visitors to interpret the outback story in their own unique way.

In the evening, the head stockman will offer an informative insight and tribute to the skills of all stockmen past and present. This is an exciting display of horsemanship, which showcases traditional Australian Stockman skills that are still used today. You’ll be entertained, captivated and leave having a sense of pride in being a part of keeping the spirit of the outback alive. The dinner show includes a gourmet outback BBQ buffet dinner.

Day 7: Longreach to Winton

Look for koala bears in what was once considered dinosaur territory

Today, you'll depart Longreach and drive to Winton, also known as the Dinosaur Capital of Australia.

Spend the day at the Waltzing Matilda Centre for a behind-the-scenes tour through the most productive Fossil Preparation Laboratory in the Southern Hemisphere. Together with your guide you'll discover how dinosaurs are found and recovered, and see the remnants of an ancient world with huge sea shells and plant fossils on display. Everyone has the chance to touch a real dinosaur fossil and watch as fossil technicians prepare dinosaur bones for research and display.

Also on the agenda is a visit to The Collection Room, which houses the only known specimens of Australia's largest and most carnivorous dinosaur nicknamed "Banjo", as well as Australia's most complete sauropod nicknamed "Matilda". Passionate guides tell the story of "Banjo" and "Matilda" and how they are inextricably linked for eternity.

You can also sit back and relax and enjoy the documentary titled "Monsters in the Outback" and watch how fossils are put together to recreate the dinosaurs.

Day 8: Winton to Emerald

Emerald is known for sunflowers

Today you'll make your way to the town of Emerald, a picturesque place aptly named after a lush green hill. Established in 1879, this large country town has become the hub of the Central Highlands and gateway to one of the largest sapphire fields in the southern hemisphere.

Emerald used to be a major sunflower producer, which might explain why the town is now home to the world's biggest Van Gogh sunflower painting. The masterpiece can be found on an easel in Morton Park at the western end of Clermont Street. 

Another must-see attraction in Emerald is the National Trust listed Railway Station built in 1900 and restored in the mid-eighties. Featuring wrought iron lacework and pillared portico, it's a spectacular sight. While here, make sure to see the ancient fossilized tree that's found at the Emerald Town Hall, more than 250 million years old.

Day 9: Emerald to Roma

The unique Bottle Tree

Today, you will join an authentic tour of one of the biggest cattle yards in the southern hemisphere in the town of Roma. You'll also wrap your arms around Queensland’s biggest bottle tree before learning about the discovery of oil and gas in Australia at The Big Rig.

Roma is well known for its natural gas assets and recent increases in demand for natural gas has seen strong industry development throughout the region. The Big Rig provides valuable insight into the hardships and heroic stories of the oil drilling and exploration. A visit to the ‘Oil Patch’ enables visitors to get up close to the impressive rigs that played a crucial role in the industry, with interpretative displays and historical machinery including the last steam-driven oil rig.

Day 10: Roma to Toowoomba

Visit a tranquil Japanese-style garden in Toowoomba

This morning, you'll make the drive to the town of Toowoomba for a visit to The Woolshed at Jondaryan. With over 150 acres left of the original 300,000 acres, this is the oldest working woolshed of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Partake in a guided tour to see how life ran without electricity and modern gadgets. While here you can also meet friendly animals in the animal nursery.
 
Later in the day, you'll also have time to visit the town's Japanese garden, as well as the Cobb+Co Museum—part of the Queensland Museum and home to the National Carriage Collection. The exhibit offers examples of a vast range of vehicles from the horse-drawn era including farm wagons, delivery carts, and a luxury convertible carriage called the Landau.

Day 11: Toowoomba to Brisbane - Depart Brisbane

Return to Brisbane 

Today, after breakfast in Toowoomba, you'll make the return trip to Brisbane. Upon arrival, you can either stay in Brisbane, continue your Australian travels, or head to the airport for your departure home. Safe travels! 

Map

Map of Queensland Outback - 11 Days
Map of Queensland Outback - 11 Days