For the past three years Outback Queensland has felt the pinch (or rather, Fred Brophy punch) of severe drought. Thankfully Mother Nature has come to her senses and brought much needed rain to some of the areas needing it most – soothing the land’s battle scars.
It’s time to bask in the glory and help spread the news far and wide: Outback Queensland is officially open for business for 2015.
Here’s a few right hooks and a solid jab to challenge everyone to jump in the ring this season (from April) for some True Blue Aussie experiences.
Pat a 95-million-year-old dinosaur
Laugh because it is possible – at a working dinosaur laboratory in Winton, of course. Or you could self-drive the famous Australian Dinosaur Trail through Winton, Richmond and Hughenden for selfies (and a sneaky pat) in front of life-size replicas and newly-discovered skeletons like Matilda, Clancy and Banjo.
If you’re still feeling the urge to get even closer, you can join a guided dig and contribute to the largest collection of fossils in the world at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs.
4WD the longer route
For once in your life when time is on your side, you can afford to take the road less travelled. Put time management and multitasking aside and take your pick of untouched dirt roads spotted with roaming cattle leading to nowhere but secluded billabongs and creeks stocked with yellowbelly. (Yes, please!)
The best-kept (not often shared) secret is ‘Australia’s longest shortcut’ via the Outback Way, or you could also take the unsealed roads of the Plenty Highway or flat desert plains of the Birdsville Track where you can see only red dirt, kangaroos and mirages for miles.
Hook a metre-long fish
This may sound impossible to a city slicker, but Outback Queensland is riddled within coolibah-lined billabongs, dams, lakes and seasonal creeks stocked with yellowbelly, murray cod, black bream and barramundi. Sounds more achievable now?
Why not set the bar high and aim to hook Mr Barramundi right into your tinny on the day that most counts most at the Lake Moondarra Fishing Classic. Or forget the pressure of a competition and make tracks into the Gulf of Carpentaria to Karumba or over to Sweers Island for some of Queensland’s best seafood.
Spot a Wedge-tailed Eagle
These are the largest raptors in Australia, soaring high in the thermal pockets over outback countryside. Their impressive diamond-shaped tail and lanky frame is unmistakable, making them perfect for the amateur bird-spotter.
Once you’ve ticked this one off the list (which you will), polish up with a good bird book and a pair of binoculars and you’ll soon be donning the title of twitcher with sightings of bustards, brolgas and emus; and colourful corellas, galahs, fairy-wrens, budgerigars and red-tailed black cockatoos.
Roll out a swag under the stars
“Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong, under the shade of a coolibah tree.” If you haven’t experienced these words (which are practically our national anthem), then that’s exactly why this now makes your must-do bucket-list.
Be sure you’ve packed kindling, an oiled camp oven and a lamb roast as you’re about to enjoy the best Aussie meal of your life – right in the fair-dinkum’ great outdoors.
View a planet through a telescope
There’s nothing like curling up into nana’s crocheted rug on a winter’s night at the Charleville Cosmos Centre & Observatory and spotting Jupiter through the lens.
Never fear, if you don’t make it to the Central West, every night in Outback Queensland there’s a twinkling show of millions of stars you can enjoy from practically everywhere and you don’t need to rush for a seat.
Back a winner
It doesn’t matter what type of a winner, as the competitors come in all shapes and sizes in the west, from yabbies to pigs and porcelain thrones (yep, that’s Winton’s dunny races).
Almost every weekend you’re bound to find a welcoming race meet to cheer on anything that moves including goats, horses and camels.
What will you tick off your outback bucket list this year?
If you need more inspiration check out the 2015 Outback travellers guide here.