To fully discover a destination that’s famous for endless horizons, natural wilderness and ancient landscapes, you’re going to want a good vantage point.
However, finding a lofty outlook in a landscape best known for having some of the lowest elevation in the country (ahem, Lake Eyre), can prove tricky.
That is, unless you know how to find higher ground.
Whether you’re looking for a bird’s eye view of a low-lying gorge, or wanting to see a city skyline #outbackstyle, here are 9 scenic lookouts guaranteed to give you a whole new perspective of Outback Queensland.
1. Big Red in the Simpson Desert
There’re no signposts or boardwalks at this lookout made entirely of sand. The notorious 40-metre high sand dune, Big Red, is the largest of the Simpson Desert’s 1140 dunes. Big Red is a four-wheel driver’s playground, offering a challenging start to crossing the Simpson. Once at the top, spectacular views greet offroaders who have truly tested their car’s capabilities in the soft sand. If you make it to the peak in time for dusk, then you’ll witness a Big Red sunset as the golden sun retreats behind the desert hued horizon of the Simpson.
Tip: Time your visit for sunset for silhouette pictures like this.
2. Boolimba Bluff at Carnarvon Gorge
Sandstone cliffs encase the vibrant colours of Carnarvon Gorge in Queensland’s central highlands. Boolimba Bluff sits 200 metres above Carnarvon Creek, offering impressive views over the mouth of Carnarvon Gorge. The 6.4km return walk is the main lookout over the gorge, passing through the breathtaking beauty of its diverse environment. Fern forest, rocky outcrops, giant boulders and ancient Aboriginal rock art are just a few of Carnarvon Gorge’s hidden treasures.
3. Nathan Gorge Lookout
Calling all adventure lovers: The view from Nathan Gorge Lookout will take your breath away with its ancient rock formations dotted with indigenous arts and eucalypt forests that merge with cabbage tree palms. Nathan Gorge is away, off the beaten track, for the true intrepid traveller. Enjoy the sounds of the Dawson trickling down below in the background, making this an adventure for all five senses!
4. Mount Isa City Lookout
Introducing, Outback Queensland’s answer to the Hollywood Hills, the Mount Isa City Lookout. This lookout guarantees sweeping views over the city which put mining on the map. Here, you can swap Outback Queensland’s vast horizons with silhouetted smelters and twinkling stars with city lights. This is the largest city in Outback Queensland after all – and it has the skyline to prove it. The Mount Isa City Lookout offers 360-degree views of this mining town and its surrounds. There’s no bushwalk through wilderness, or steep rock climbs here. In fact, you can pack the sneakers away all together because this lookout is entirely accessible by car. A global signpost will put your location in perspective, as you marvel at the size of this outback town.
5. Cobbold Gorge Lookout
This hidden outback oasis will leave with new impressions of the outback. Forget desolate landscapes of dirt and endless horizons, when you arrive at Cobbold Gorge you’ll be treated to one of Outback Queensland’s most colourful natural wonders. From the top of the escarpment, marvel at the narrow gorge flowing between sandstone walls standing 30-metres tall. The magnificent outback hues of the sandstone cliffs cast their reflection in the pea green gorge, the kind of vistas that you’ll want to pepper your Instagram feed with hashtag #outbackqueensland.
6. Duwadarri Lookout
Duwadarri Lookout (also known as Adels Grove Lookout) is a one-kilometre walk in the magical Boodjamulla National Park. Don’t be fooled by the short distance of this climb (it’s short and steep), but the top of the ridge will reward walkers’ perseverance with views of the emerald Lawn Hill Creek running between yellowed limestone plateaus and sandstone cliffs. Stop at the top of the ridge to catch your breath before continuing along the cliff towards Indarri Falls Lookout for views and a quick dip.
7. Callide Lookout
There are three lookouts to choose from for magnificent views of the Callide Power Station, Callide Dam and the area’s mining operations. Like the Mount Isa City Lookout these also take an industrial edge to Outback Queensland’s otherwise ecological lookouts, while flaunting the astounding size of the town’s Callide mine and power station. While one lookout will give astounding views of the power station, and another of the mine, the Callide Dam Lookout will give keen anglers an advantage to scope their scaly competition with the spectacular views of Lake Callide – it boasts one of Queensland’s highest quality inland fisheries, housing Barramundi, Sleepy Cod, Yellow-belly and Red-claw.
8. Dinosaur Canyon
Considering Dinosaur Canyon overlooks some seriously ancient archaeology, this lookout was built with modern architecture in mind. The new Dinosaur Canyon at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum allows visitors to wander amongst the landscape and dinosaur statues on a 300-metre high pathway, which travels through galleries of life-sized exhibits: Dinosaur Stampede, Pterodactylus, Kunbarrasaurus, Death in the Billabong and Valley of the Cycads exhibits. The sculptures sit amongst boulders and natural vegetation, and will leave you wondering whether you’re in Outback Queensland or Jurassic Park – the former being far less frightening.
9. Lake Moondarra
As a general rule, where there are lakes there are lookouts. And you’re going to need one to take in Lake Moondarra in all her 23.75km2 glory. Not only is this body of water full of fish, and big fish (barramundi and sooty grunter) mind you, it’s also the town of Mount Isa’s water supply. You’ll find the artificial lake and lookout downstream from the township along the Leichhardt River. On a clear day, expect bright blue water that positively ‘pop’s against the rocky facade that surrounds the lake like a cauldron. The view from the top is not only a good one from a natural point of view – but also to see what was once the largest water scheme in Australia financed by private enterprise.