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Phil Hawkes heads to Quilpie

I’m sitting at the bar in the Imperial Hotel (grand title for a typical outback pub) in Quilpie, Western Queensland.

The rain is pouring down outside and the humidity feels like a damp cloth over the face. Rain events aren’t that common in this drought-affected region and there’s a sort of celebratory murmur going around the bar.

quilpie_imperial hotel

The boys are lined up on their bar stools… the usual motley crew of Shire workers, random tattooed bikies and locals, and apprehensive looking tourists with the stamp of Grey Nomad all over them. Not a woman in sight except for the overworked redhead behind the bar.

Johnny Cash, Easybeats and Harry Belafonte… strange bedfellows… share the musical spotlight.

The menu is quite extensive but there’s palpable tension in the room as I ask for a vegie option. No such luck.  But the problem is neatly resolved by asking for a side dish of vegetables for $5 (actually quite delicious thanks to the gooey mushroom sauce).

But when I order the sticky date pudding with ice cream there’s a kind of hush… all over the town… tonight. In this environment I may be the first customer ever to order something so exotic. But not the last, as envious glances are cast my way.

The downpour has stopped and I exit stage left. But was that an order for a vegie bowl I heard from a muscly truckie as I departed?


Photo credit: Elizabeth Nankivell of ENHM

regional express pic


Quilpie is 953 kms by road from Brisbane. Or you can fly on Rex Aviation  via Toowoomba and Charleville (the flight continues on to Windorah and Birdsville).

There’s more to Quilpie than meets the eye. Try opal fossicking, or a short trip to Eromanga to see the new Natural History Museum with its recent discoveries of dinosaur and megasaur fossils on display.

The Heritage Hotel in Quilpie’s main street offers comfortable accommodation in a building being lovingly restored… and it’s next to the Imperial Hotel if you’re a vegetarian.

The friendly, helpful folk at the Visitor Information Centre will take you on a town tour and you can also arrange a “mail run” tour with Troy Minnett at the Heritage Hotel.

heritage hotel quilpie

Heritage Hotel Quilpie




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