You’ve probably heard of the Channel Country, but chances are, you have no idea where to find it.
If you’re somewhere in Outback Queensland’s Barcoo, Boulia or Diamantina Shire, you’re right amongst it.
Covering the Cooper and Eromanga geological basins that form part of the Great Artesian Basin, this part of the world is a series of ancient flood plains within the outback arid landscape.
When the area gets enough rainfall, the Channel Country comes to life – from dry dessert channels to flowing waterways – like those animal-shaped washers that come to life when you just add water.
If you’re looking to see the green that contrasts the normal Outback gold, here’re 10 things you didn’t know about Outback Queensland’s Channel Country.
1. It’s big in size but small in population
Covering over 200,000km2 the Channel Country is a significant bite of Queensland’s Outback.
With approximately 770 residents calling this place home, this is one of the most sparsely populated areas in Outback Queensland.
But what this area lacks in population it makes up for with cattle; this is graziers territory.
2. It’s a world of colour
Looking for what Dorothea McKellar was referring to when she described a sunburnt country? The Channel Country is your answer.
You’ll find endless horizons filled with deep red sand hills and sunset orange escarpments.
Keep those camera batteries charged to ensure you don’t miss capturing the beauty of this landscape contrasting against the big blue skies.
3. When it rains, you’ll see spectacular floodplains
This part of the outback wasn’t named Channel Country for nothing. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the braided channels come to life after rainfall in the north pocket of Outback Queensland.
Want to get the full experience? Check it out from above! If you need more convincing why you should see get a birds-eye-view of the outback, here’s 7 more reasons why.
4. There’s always a race to watch
From quirky races like camels and yabbies to iconic horse races, the Channel Country doesn’t fall short of racing events.
In July you’ll find the Melbourne Cup of camel racing – the Boulia Camel Races. Get amongst the locals and place your bets on this 1500m marathon, the longest camel race in Australia.
Warm up for Australia’s most iconic outback race meet – the Birdsville Races, by swapping four legs for eight on the Wednesday before the race that stops the Outback at Windorah’s International Yabby Races. Watch these critters crawl to get their claw outside the competitor ring first to take home crustacean glory.
The Birdsville Races are desert racing at its finest. Racing since 1882, this is iconic Australian experience is one for your bucket list. Want to save your pennies so you can splurge trackside? Here’s 5 ways to volunteer your way to the Birdsville Races.
5. It’s a nature lovers paradise
If the Channel Country’s stunning landscapes aren’t enough for you, get a glimpse of its lesser-known National Parks.
Stretch your gaze along the Barcoo River and red sand dunes of Welford National Park south-east of Jundah or explore the stunning desert-like vistas of one of Queensland’s biggest National Park, Diamantina National Park.
Both parks are abundant with birdlife including electric coloured budgerigars, mulga parrots, pelicans and brolgas. Yep, birdwatchers, this is a trip to pack the binoculars.
6. You can leave your mark on a town
The outback town of Stonehenge may not resemble its namesake in the United Kingdom, but you will find stones of a different kind here.
Write your name in the towns outdoor visitor book in stone on the edge of town, a tradition started by a mailman years ago.
7. It was once a dinosaur swimming spot
For dinosaur history outside of the Australian Dinosaur Trail, head to Boulia’s Marine Reptile Display.
Boulia was once part of the Eromanga Inland Sea and today is home to the best lchthyosaur collection in Queensland and Australia’s answer to the ancient Loch Ness Monster.
8. You’ll find sand dunes 1,200kms from the beach
You may be 1,200kms from the golden beaches of Queensland but you can still get your sand (dune) fix in the Channel Country.
Check out Windorah’s deep red sand dunes or tackle Big Red on four wheels on the eastern edge of the Simpson Desert near Birdsville.
Pack a boogie board and surf the sand or for something a little more on the R&R side, take a picnic basket up Big Red at sunset and catch an epic outback sunset.
9. It’s home to Min Min sightings
If you’re looking for a campfire story, the Min Min lights are worth huddling around the flames to hear.
Whether it’s fact or folklore, the story of these eerie lights is sure to give you the goosebumps.
Theories of the bright glowing balls which the Boulia locals are no strangers to seeing, range from spirits and UFOs to optical illusions and fluorescent gases.
10. It doesn’t fall short of local watering holes
There’s no risk of getting thirsty out here – the town’s might be small but they have their priorities straight and still operate their local hotel in most parts.
From a pot of XXXX gold at the Birdsville Hotel to the camel burger at the Australian Hotel in Boulia, Channel Country delivers.
Befriend the publican at the Jundah pub, make mates at the Bedourie Hotel or visit a ghost pub in Betoota – sorry mates, no cold beer in here though!