When I think of the Outback of Australia, I think dry and desolate. But the Queensland Outback — most of which is encompassed by a region known as Channel Country — is so much more than a barren landscape. It’s diverse wildlife, ever-changing terrain, and communities of people. Hospitality and good humor is the norm.

Equipped with a trailer that could handle any Outback adventure, my boyfriend Thatcher and I traveled around the southwest corner of Queensland — from Longreach to Birdsville — to talk to some locals and get to know the place.

Alexandria’s trip to the Outback was sponsored by Tourism and Events Queensland. Learn more about Queensland on their blog.
1

From the air

Being a pilot is a coveted job here, because the landscape is so massive that it's more cost effective to herd cattle with helicopters.

2

Perfect day

When we got into Windorah, we headed straight to the Western Star Motel for some XXXX beer and to meet some locals. Just a few days later we were invited to go fishing with Marilyn, one of the motel owners. Our new friend Orfhlaith also came along. Originally from Ireland, Orfhlaith was working as a bartender to extend her visa. We sat on the banks of Cooper Creek and enjoyed a simple day of fishing.

3

Floods and droughts

Cooper Creek is part of a basin that's well known for extreme drought and heavy floods. The town of Windorah actually started closer to the river, but after years of being taken out by the flood waters coming in from the north, they moved the entire town to the west.

4

Aerial geography

Marilyn introduced me to a wonderful helicopter pilot who was nice enough to show me around the area. This is iconic Channel Country flood landscape. The black sections of the land are where the water sits for weeks at a time. This bird's-eye view was such an invaluable part of my trip, and truly made me fall in love with the landscape.

5

'Roo shadows

An aerial view of a group of kangaroos.

6

Rampant with 'roos

They say to not drive in the evenings or when the sun rises because that's when you're most likely to hit a kangaroo. Although they're mostly seen as a pest in the area, we were certain we'd never forgive ourselves if we hit one. At one point I was told there had recently been a plague of 'roos. I misunderstood and thought that there was a disease killing the poor guys, but turns out they invade the towns when droughts hit.

7

Birdsville

After we said goodbye to our new friends in Windorah, we drove the 6 hours to Birdsville, in the southwestern corner of Queensland. Birdsville rests against the Munga-Thirri National Park, formerly known as the Simpson Desert. The town has more traffic than Windorah and felt like a busy city in comparison...with a population of around 300 people.

8

Galahs gathering

Sitting on top of the famous "Big Red" sand dune, looking down you can see the galahs gathering for the night in the trees below. The term "galah" also refers to someone who won't stop jabbering. A flock of these beautiful and impressively loud birds, otherwise known as rose-breasted cockatoos, will stop you in your tracks.

9

Sunset sand

Sunset on the Big Red sand dune -- best place for wine and cheese and flies.

10

The Birdsville Bakery

The Birdsville Bakery is a must-stop if you come within 100 miles of it. Famous for its camel pies, the bakery is open from Easter until mid-October. Here are the lovely owners, Dusty and Jacko, who started the bakery back in 2004. Make sure to follow Dusty, the self-proclaimed “cranky old bugger,” on Twitter: @BirdsvilleBaker.

11

Curried camel

The famous Birdsville Bakery curried camel pie...delish!

12

Carisbrooke Station

After Birdsville, we headed to Carisbrooke Station and met Charlie, who gave us a tour of the Three Sisters sandstone formation. Charlie was like a wonderful mix between an Australian John Muir and Mr. Rogers. Carisbrooke was a perfect place to relax and enjoy the stillness of the Outback.

13

Drawings

Aboriginal drawings seen on the tour of Carisbrooke Station.

14

Spirit of the Outback

Back in Longreach, where we'd started our adventure, Thatcher and I hopped on the Spirit of the Outback to head back to Brisbane. This was train travel at its best. Not only did the landscape blow us away, the train itself was like a piece of history. It’s a great way to get out to Longreach to start your own Outback adventure.

15

Back to Brisbane

Perfect trip back to Brisbane on the Spirit of the Outback.

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