Birdsville is a tiny outback town in Queensland, on the edge of the Simpson Desert. The area is rich in pioneering history and was once a toll point for stock crossing the Queensland and South Australian border.
Each September the town’s population swells from 100 to 5000 for the Birdsville Races. The races have been run on the town’s sandy track since 1882 and currently offer prize money of more than $100,000. The excitement of the races make September a great time to visit, but the town has a lot to offer all year round. Avoid it in summer, though, since temperatures can reach brutal heights.
Your first point-of-call should be the Wirrarri Visitor Information Centre. Get insider advice, find out more about the local history and pick up a book or souvenir in the gift shop. The centre also houses an impressive gallery of local art and photography.
If you’re visiting in September, it’s most likely to attend the Birdsville Races along with thousands of other spectators. But even if you’ve missed the big event, the Birdsville Race Track is still worth a quick visit.
In 1860, Robert Burke and William Wills left Melbourne to find a route north through the centre of Australia. The expedition passed three kilometres from Birdsville and their campsite is marked by the Burke and Wills Tree. The Coolibah tree, on the banks of the Diamantina River, is carved with ‘BW-C76 1860’. Burke only carved the letter B; the rest was marked by a party tracing the route taken by Burke and Wills.
For a spectacular outback sunset, head out of town to watch the sun dip below the horizon from Big Red, a 30m sand dune at the edge of the Simpson Desert. If you have a 4WD and a good dose of confidence, you can drive to the top of the dune. Otherwise, you can walk up it.
Enjoy outback hospitality at the famous Birdsville Hotel. Build in 1884, the hotel has become a part of Aussie folklore. It sits on the edge of the harsh Simpson Desert, offering icy cold beers to weary travellers and the opportunity to hear a few yarns from old-timers at the bar.
When you start feeling peckish, head over to the family-run Birdsville Bakery. They have a wide range of pies and baked goods but are famous for their curried camel pies, awarded a gold star at the Great Aussie Pie competition.
When it gets too hot, retreat for a dip in the Birdsville Billabong. Go for a swim, bird watching or take a walk to Pelican Point, one of the best spots for a view of Birdsville.
Explore Birdsville and the Queensland Outback on an 11-day Birdsville Desert Escape from $3763pp twin share. Book by January 31, 2017 and receive bonus rail from Brisbane to Longreach.
Visit RACQ Travel or contact one of our friendly travel consultants on 1300 096 166.
Image credits include: Birdsville Races