It’s liquid gold. Seeping naturally through cracks in the rock, flowing into springs, shallow water tables, creeks and rivers, the freshwater of the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) is an Outback lifeline. One of the largest underground basins in the world, the GAB spans over one fifth of the Australian continent, nourishing inland communities and diverse ecosystems. Join us as we follow the GAB through Outback Queensland. We’ll discover its history and learn why the water is so good for the body, mind and soul.
Long before white man sustained stock with the waters of the GAB, our Indigenous custodians already held the natural springs in high regard. For more than 40,000 years, its fresh waters have provided First Nations people with a place to meet, share stories and connect culturally and spiritually with the ancient landscape.
Thargomindah, 1,000 kilometres west of Brisbane, was the first place in Australia and third in the world (after London and Paris) to use water for hydroelectricity. In 1891 drilling commenced on a bore to supply the town with water and in 1893 an exceptionally good supply was struck at 808 metres (2650 feet) with the water emerging at 84 degrees Celsius. Thargomindah’s streetlights were powered by generators coupled to a water turbine driven by the bore’s natural water pressure until 1951. Learn more on a tour of the Thargomindah Artesian Hydro Power Plant, believed to be the oldest, working unit in Australia, and possibly the world!
2. Spas and Stars
Outback Queensland boasts an array of spas, bathtubs and pools filled with the nourishing waters of the GAB. Take some time to sit and soak and allow the mineral rich waters to work their magical charm. Numerous visitors make an annual journey to the region to utilise the believed healing powers of the water. For others, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance for a bespoke bath under a million brilliant stars. Check out Outback Queensland’s quirky bathtubs here.
3. Outback Food
Outback Queensland could be presented the title of the organic food capital of Australia. Across this vast region, premium organic beef is raised, market gardens are cultivated, and new farming initiatives trialled.
Bring the esky empty from home. Stop in at the local butcher and supermarket. Not only do you help support the regional economies, but the local butchers have the most tenderised and prized cuts of meat on offer.
4. Reflect and Meditate
There is something very special about days spent traversing the GAB. From sunrise to sunset and through the night, vistas from horizon to horizon greet and continually mesmerise you. Take time out on a bluff and marvel at the water’s path through ancient rock. Or stop by a peaceful river for a moment or two of quiet reflection. The silence of nature has been used as a meditative purpose for thousands of years. Sit, listen, meditate. For some it will be a unique experience, never forgotten. Others will come back regularly to clear the mind and settle the soul in Queensland’s Outback.
Did you know that washing your hair in the soft mineralised water of the GAB is often said to be the same as washing in Champagne? It leaves your hair velvety and glossy. Minerals such as bicarbonate, calcium and magnesium are said to help skin, bones and organs to remain strong and healthy. Your skin will also feel smooth and require less coats of moisturiser compared to washing with city water. Some even say wrinkles are lessened but we are not entirely sure of this! Perhaps it’s the result of tired muscles relaxing and tensions easing as you slide into the warm water. Don’t forget to slip, slop, slap while out during the day. And if you are the driver, remember the backs of your hands, as they get a lot of reflected sun through the windscreen.
Watching, exploring, learning and listening to nature is undoubtedly one of the best things one can do for the mind and soul. Stretching over 1,700,000 square kilometres, the GAB has a treasure trove of places to visit. From Currawinya, Queensland’s largest national park, to magnificent gorges, rivers, fossils, sand dunes and rainforest encircled water pools. Outback Queensland is home to many endemic and endangered flora and fauna species. Walk quietly and sit still, and soon you will see animals, birds and insects like butterflies and dragonflies happily at home all around you. A stopover to connect with nature and reflect on its importance is simply superb for the mind and soul.
7. Exercise the body and mind
The Outback has become a favourite location for fitness fanatics, and it’s easy to see why. The Julia Creek Dirt ‘n Dust Festival includes one of the toughest triathlons in the country, with competitors from all over Australia returning each year to better their personal bests. The Mount Isa Rodeo is listed as one the hottest challenges in the world, while the Birdsville Races is said to be the Melbourne Cup of the Outback. There’s sand dune surfing and sunrise yoga at the Big Red Bash, a chance to win the Million Dollar Hole-in-One Challenge at the Outback Queensland Masters or try camel tagging in Boulia, home of the legendary Min Min Light. After a slower pace? Refresh with pilates at dawn and breathe in the fresh air and unforgettable big-sky views.
8. Music soothes the soul
Music is often said to contribute to mindfulness. In Outback Queensland, you’ll have plenty of time to listen to the unique sounds of the bush. Or time your trip for an event like Music in the Mulga on Wandilla Station or the bi-annual film festival in Winton. Did you know the North Gregory Hotel in Winton is named as the first place Australia’s best-known bush ballad, Waltzing Matilda, was first performed by its author Banjo Paterson. Relax and hum the tune as the billy boils under a red river gum at Combo Waterfall where it is thought Banjo first penned the verse. While in Winton, visit the world’s first and only Musical Fence! Designed by percussionist and composer Graeme Leek, the wire fence can be played as a musical instrument. Then there are the rodeos, races and an assortment of events that attract big names to sing and play.
As the waters of the Great Artesian Basin invigorate your body, relax your mind and rejuvenate your soul, look a little further while you journey around Outback Queensland. You will be rewarded with one of the most relaxing and soulfully invigorating holidays of your life.
Have you found your special place to relax and revive along the waters edge in Outback Queensland ?