8 reasons you need to visit Outback Queensland in 2020 for The Year of Indigenous Tourism

While 2019 may have been the Year of Outback Queensland Tourism, 2020 is expected to be even bigger with new tourism experiences and the announcement of the Year of Indigenous Tourism.

Outback Queensland has a strong connection with Indigenous culture and heritage, and we invite you to share in the stories of Indigenous Australians through a tour or experience through Outback Queensland.

Here are just a few ways you can explore our Indigenous cultural experiences in 2020.

1. Red Ridge

Red Ridge is a not-for-profit community organisation delivering art programs and projects to marginalised and disadvantaged people in outback communities.

Located in Blackall in the central-west, Red Ridge projects include visual arts, performing arts, design, craft and textiles across 11 government areas in Outback Queensland.

The Red Ridge team delivers programs such as fashion parades with local designers, public art displays, painting and art workshops, jewellery making and leather craft workshops.

Each and every Red Ridge program focuses on art as a mental health outlet and the importance of public art and connecting communities.

Visit Red Ridge at their headquarters in Blackall and pick up a piece of Indigenous art for yourself. Stay a while in Blackall and explore the region with this list.

2. Carnarvon Gorge

Carnarvon Gorge may be 27 million years old, but it continues to welcome up to 70,000 visitors every year, which proves some things just get better with age.

Located in Queensland’s Central Highlands, approximately a three-hour drive from Roma in the Carnarvon National Park, Carnarvon Gorge is home to sandstone cliffs, an abundance of bird and plant life including ancient cycads and culturally significant indigenous artworks.

Carnarvon Gorge is known for its challenging, but picturesque walks. It’s a bit of a hike (literally) to see the ‘Art Gallery’, considered to be one of the most significant stencil artworks in the country.

Featuring over 2,000 artworks, ochre stencils and engravings, this cultural site is displayed along up to 62m of sandstone wall in the national park. To ensure the area remains untouched, a boardwalk has been erected along the wall for tourists to visit and photograph.

You can experience Carnarvon Gorge on your own, but a guide is recommended.

 3. Wallaroo Outback Retreat

A 72,000-acre cattle station is the last place you’d expect to find Indigenous art, but Wallaroo Outback Retreat is just one of the secret worlds to discover in Outback Queensland.

You’ll find the five-star retreat 89km north of Roma, amongst the Carnarvon Ranges.

Wallaroo station has many Indigenous sites including the Rainbow Cave, with paintings and stencils on the rock faces. Tour the Axe Factory, where hundreds of rock indents tell of where blade-sharpening took place.

Due to the size of the property, you’ll need a helping hand to navigate these sites. The knowledgeable team at Boobook Ecotours from Roma know this land like the back of their hands.

4. Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame

The Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame in Longreach offers a spectacular tribute to the roles indigenous people played in the pastoral history of outback Australia in their nightly show.

A ‘Wall of Honour’ shares the stories of the Aboriginal men and women who helped shape Australia and their connection to the land.

If you’ve got 48 hours to spare in Longreach, explore the region with this guide.

5. Betoota Serpent

Located in the Diamantina Shire, in the south-west of Outback Queensland, sits the ghost town of Betoota.

Not just famous for a satirical news publication, Betoota is home to Gibbers, the Dreamtime Serpent, a public art project to tell women’s Dreamtime stories.

The Dreamtime Serpent can be viewed from a distance and represents the river systems connecting the Channel Country and was created using stone and gibbers from the region.

Fun fact: ‘Gibber’ comes from the Aboriginal word for stone.

6. Ridgee Didge Café

Based in Barcaldine, the Ridgee Didge Café is owned and operated by local Inigai woman, Cheryl Thompson and is one of the outback’s top places to eat.

As well as a favourite breakfast and lunch pitstop, Ridgee Didge Café employs indigenous staff and provides training opportunities for local Aboriginal women.

Cheryl has also created her own blend of coffee, Coolamon Coffee, which is served in the café and represents the region.

If you’re feeling peckish, stop in for a meal at the Ridgee Didge Café and look through the range of Indigenous products on sale too.

Want to explore Barcaldine? Cheryl also runs Trackers Tours, showcasing the best experiences of Barcaldine – from the history of the region to dinosaur encounters as well as Indigenous cultural tours. If you want to go on a self-tour of Barcaldine, this list of activities will help.

7. Charleville Cosmos Centre & Observatory

The Charleville Cosmos Centre & Observatory might already be in this list of top things to do in Charleville, but as of 2020, the team are adding a new reason to visit the centre with a brand new tour focused on ‘Universal Dreaming’.

Toast marshmallows and be inspired by ancient stories and people’s connection to the stars around the Universal Dreaming fire pit delivered by a local Bidjara Elder.

8. South West Queensland Indigenous Cultural Trail

Join the South West Queensland Indigenous Cultural Trail (SWQICT) on a trail of seven communities across Outback Queensland that hold significance to Indigenous people.

A joint project between SWQICT, the Surat Aboriginal Corporation and the University of Southern Queensland Community Futures, the trail visits key cultural heritages sites across Dirranbandi to St George, Surat, Roma, Mitchell, Charleville and Cunnamulla.

Adding Outback Queensland to your travel list for the new year?  We’ve got six more reasons to visit in 2020.