If theme parks and cinema dates are becoming all too familiar (I mean, how many Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies can one production company make?), then take the kids out for a day with a difference – an Outback Queensland difference.
With 901,574km2 of backyard to play in, a variety of nature reserves and waterholes to escape to – Outback Queensland guarantees fun and games without the hefty price tag.
File away these suggestions for next time someone says “I’m bored” with these free, boredom-busting activities.
1. Explore the creek in Cloncurry
In a town (Cloncurry) that resembles nothing of China, you’ll find Chinaman Creek Dam. Just shy of 118 kilometres west of Mount Isa, get the kids moving with one of the walking tracks that circles Chinaman Dam. Want to kick things into overdrive? Jump on a jet ski and experience the thrills of the open water that you just can’t find at Wet ‘n’ Wild. Don’t forget to take your fishing rod either. Catching a barramundi and cooking it up on a barbeque is one way to do Outback well (and avoid answering the dreaded ‘what’s for dinner?’).
2. Tour de Julia Creek
Give kids an outdoor education like no other in Julia Creek. The township became known as the gateway to the Gulf when the road from Normanton was sealed in 1964. But there’s much more to this little city with a big heart than just learning about its history. It’s an RV-friendly town and with free camping right by the creek, it’s the perfect place for a budget family getaway. Let the kids play tour guide while you hire a family set of brightly-coloured cruiser bikes and ride your way through town.
3. Check out Tambo’s natural bird aviary
Calling all twitchers! Tambo is a town with a larger bird population than human one – and its feathered friends flock to the Tambo Dam. With black swans, cygnets, pelicans and brolgas to see, it’s a bird watcher’s paradise and also the perfect spot for a game of I-spy. There’s enough to do here to keep the little ones busy for a feature-length serving of fun, with a bigger array of fowl than the animated film Rio. And if there’s still energy to burn after that, have a go on the exercise station on the way home.
4. See the sights at Porcupine Gorge National Park
Porcupine Gorge is to Australia what the Grand Canyon is to America. Defined by towering sandstone cliffs and dense vegetation, you’ll find a gorge that’s filled with clear water and serious wildlife. More than just a pretty facade, Porcupine Gorge is the prime place for the family to cool off after a day exploring the National Park. With two lookouts and camping facilities at the Pyramid campground, you don’t need to rush home either – camping starts from as little as $6.55/night. For your own Australia Zoo experience (sans entry fee), spot the furry friends that hang out around the open woodland. Wallaroos and red kangaroos play in the area, but they’re just about the only other friends you’ll run into in this site known for solitude and scenic views.
5. Catch sunset atop Big Red
You haven’t seen a sunset until you’ve seen one from 40m-up, standing atop the towering sand dune that is Big Red. It’s the first of 1,140 dunes in the Simpson Desert and sits just 35km from Birdsville in the Munga-Thirri National Park. It’s 4WD or nothing when it comes to getting to this famous dune destination, and the view is definitely worth the trek. Pack a piece of cardboard as a makeshift chair, pop a bottle of champagne, and take in the kind of scenery you’ve only ever seen on the back of a travel brochure.