You don’t have to travel overseas to experience a different world. Just head to outback Queensland to discover endless space, huge skies, pioneering heritage and warm hospitality.
The Longreach and Winton region, just two days drive from Brisbane, has more than its share of award-winning experiences. Here you can ride on a stagecoach through the bush, cruise the Thomson River at sunset, go on station safari where cattle and camels roam, walk in dinosaurs footsteps, go shopping pioneer style, get the inside stories on Captain Starlight and Waltzing Matilda, discover the pioneers of flight, and much more.
You’ll feel like a pioneer yourself but you don’t have to rough it. You choose the level of independence that suits you, from your own self-drive adventure staying at tourist parks or motels to an inclusive 7-night holiday with travel by Queensland Rail’s Outback Spirit.
Planning your trip
April to October is the holiday season in outback Queensland. Sunny winter days and crisp nights attract visitors from interstate and overseas. The busiest time is July and August but other times can also be popular so make sure you book your accommodation and experiences ahead of time.
Outback Pioneers, winners of many awards for their Longreach experiences, have rail-inclusive holidays departing from Brisbane (check website for dates) – or use your own rail concessions to match with their 5-night Unleash Longreach holiday, which starts every Thursday. Alternatively, you can fly in from Brisbane or Townsville.
If you prefer to travel in your own vehicle and stay independently, you’ll be supporting lots of outback towns along the way and getting a real sense of our wide, brown land.
Ideally allow at least four nights in Longreach. Not all experiences run every day so, if you’re travelling independently, check timetables and plan accordingly to make sure you don’t miss anything.
The station experience
The drought over recent years has created tough times for graziers but a few have seen an opportunity in opening their gates to visitors. One of the most informative and entertaining insights into the outback lifestyle is the Nogo Station Experience. You’ll get up close to merinos and the wool story in historic shearing sheds. You’ll go on station safari with your Kinnon family host to learn about wildlife, cattle and feral intruders. You’ll visit the historic Captain Starlight sights and hear his story. And you’ll have plenty of laughs as quirky outback humour makes light of even dark days.
The river experience
One of the most iconic Longreach experiences is the Thomson River sunset cruise. The original features a cruise by paddlewheeler or historic riverboat, followed by an authentic stockman’s dinner and entertainment on the riverbank. Check out both cruise operators for distinctly different approaches and choose your preferred style – or try both on different nights.
The stagecoach experience
Longreach is the only place in Australia you can gallop on a Cobb and Co stagecoach along an old mail route. It’s dusty (unless rain has surprised everyone), it’s exhilarating and it captures the reality of pioneer times. The 45-minute ride is mostly at a leisurely pace then the gallop ‘to outrun a storm’ is a thrill for young and old alike! It’s combined with the Harry Redford Old Time Tent Show and ‘smoko’ as a 4-hour experience.
Make sure you have enough time to visit the famous Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and the Qantas Founders Museum. Both are well-developed museums that give another perspective on the pioneering spirit!
The Kinnon & Co Station Store in town is also well worth a visit. This emporium, which is based on the old outback stores that sold everything, has outback wares and gifts galore!
The Winton discovery
Winton is a major attraction with the award-winning Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, the Waltzing Matilda Centre and the famous North Gregory Hotel where Banjo Patterson first performed his famous song.
You can see it all in a day tour from Longreach on Saturdays with Outback Pioneers if you don’t want to drive the extra distance yourself.
Support our outback
Outback locals will welcome you with open arms and warm hospitality. Despite the tough times in the bush, you’ll find smiles and genuine pleasure in showing city and coastal cousins around. Longreach deserves to be on every Australians bucket list!
To unleash your pioneering spirit in Longreach and Winton visit Outback Pioneers or call 07 4658 1776.