UNEARTH THE QUEENSLAND OUTBACK
& REDISCOVER THE WHITSUNDAY COAST
Twin Share / Double $4020
Single Sup + $835
Longreach is about 1300ks from Brisbane. It’s in the centre of a vast area known as the Central West, in the geographical heart of Queensland. There are some great things to see and do in this part of the world – a region that attracted bush poets like Banjo Patterson and pioneers, like the early post World War I pilots who formed the Queensland and Northern Territory Arial Services, which in turn helped form the Flying Doctor Service.
Airlie Beach is the coastal hub of the Whitsundays with a laid back village atmosphere. It is nestled amongst the rainforest and overlooks the blue waters of the Whitsunday passage. Within this archipelago lie the enchanted islands of the Whitsundays, some 74 islands within the immediate region. Captain James Cook was the first European to make records of the islands in 1770 however it was thought seafarers of other nations passed through the Whitsundays long before.
Welcome to our 14 day tour to the Central West and Coastal Queensland. Sit back and relax as we begin our journey through to the state’s outback. We have a travel day today as we cover the distance through to Roma, stopping for a lunch break along the way (own expense). It is vast out here, away from the coast – big sky country as they call it. Outback towns; night skies; Bilbies; Stations and Longhorns – there is certainly plenty to see! We continue through Chinchilla to Roma for our first overnight stay. We have time to freshen up before dinner at the motel (lunch at own cost / dinner in motel).
Roma Explorers Inn
Today is Sale Day in Roma! The Roma Saleyard is Australia’s largest cattle selling centre which can see up to 14,000 cattle sold through the complex. Now local, retired farmers and graziers offer their time as volunteers to show us through the yards and give us an overview. After the sale we head to the Big Rig for a self-guided tour of the Big Rig Oil Patch. This outdoor museum tells the story of the formation of gas in coal reserves, its first discovery in Roma and the progression of the industry. The indoor theatre will tell us what is happening in the field today. Following time to buy some lunch we travel through to our next destination of Charleville, the centre of a rich pastoral district. Did you know that Ross and Keith Smith landed here with engine trouble on their first flight from London to Sydney in 1919? After settling in to our motel we head out to visit Charleville’s Cosmos Centre. The centre is an audio-visual extravaganza featuring hi-tech interactive displays that will take us on an astronomical journey through the ages, unravelling many mysteries of our night sky. Tonight we enjoy the open-air observatory and view the outback night sky (breakfast & dinner in motel / lunch at own cost).
Mulga Country Motor Inn, Charleville
Our interesting day in Charleville begins with the Bilby Experience. Charleville is the Bilby capital of Australia, with a breeding population of this endangered marsupial. Today, our guide will teach us about the bilby and Australia’s native animal extinction crisis. The Bilbies here are being bred for reintroduction into Currawinya National Park so we’ll also have the opportunity to see these unique little critters. Next we embark on a sun viewing and Astronomy By Day tour where we discover the truth about falling stars (they don’t!) and how the solar system formed. Our guide will take us through the life story of our Sun and how small it is compared to the big stars in the sky. This afternoon’s tour unravels the mystery surrounding the Charleville airport and how it came to be a top secret site during World War II. We are joined on the coach by a local guide who will take us on a tour of the town as well as share the story of how over 3,500 United States military personnel came to be living here in 1942. Our day complete, we return to our motel for dinner (breakfast & dinner in motel / lunch at own cost).
Mulga Country Motor Inn, Charleville
Departing town this morning we make our way to Tambo where we’ll stop to visit Tambo Teddies and have morning tea. Stitched with love, these teddy bears were created in 1992 by 3 local women wanting to overcome low wool prices and a drought. Today, 3 other local women have taken over the business and continue the tradition of handmade teddies from 100% woollen sheepskin. We’ll embark on a tour through the workshop as well as discover the oldest town in the central west. Reboarding the coach we drive via Blackall to Barcaldine. This is another town steeped in the history of the early pioneers, their struggles and the evolution of Australia as a nation including stories about the shearers strike in the 1890’s. We’ll stop to see the Tree of Knowledge. This iconic ghost gum which grew outside the Railway Station earned its claim to fame as the founding site of the political movement we now know as the Australian Labor Party. It was poisoned in 2006 and did not recover. From here it’s onto Longreach, a town which has played a significant role in the early development of central Queensland and outback Australia. This will be our base for the next 3 nights (breakfast & dinner in motel / lunch at own cost).
Albert Park Motor Inn, Longreach
Our first visit for the day is to the School of Distance Education. Imagine a classroom more than twice the size of Victoria, where the playground is as vast as the outback and the partnership between home and school is legendary. Next up is the Qantas Founders Outback Museum, adjacent to the historic 1922 Qantas hangar which has been restored as part of the project. The complex houses the museum, theatrette and exhibition hall, visitor information centre and restaurant. Historic photographs, memorabilia and multi-media interactive displays eloquently tell the inspirational stories of overcoming the problems of long distance travel in outback Australia. A Boeing 747-200, donated by Qantas Airways Ltd, is the latest addition to the exhibit and forms a spectacular part of the museum's outdoor display. Our guided tour provides us with an appreciation of the vision and achievements of the Qantas Founders, which is "that Qantas would one day become one of the world’s greatest airlines". This afternoon we visit the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, a fascinating tribute to the pioneering men and women of Outback Australia. We’ll spend time wandering through the centre’s five themed galleries proudly displaying the history behind some of Australia’s greatest and bravest explorers, stock workers, pastoralists and Aborigines. The displays allow us to interpret the outback story in a unique way. Our day complete we return to our motel and relax prior to dinner (breakfast & dinner in motel / lunch at own cost).
Albert Park Motor Inn, Longreach
Today we are going to have a special experience as we get an insight to the area through the eyes of local graziers and pioneer families. We will meet the owners of a local station called Strathmore and learn about their operations and the challenges of operating on the land. We spend the morning here then head back into town to buy some lunch and have the afternoon free for shopping or relaxing at the motel. This evening we’ll be collected to enjoy a gentle sunset cruise down the majestic Thomson River, before going ashore for a traditional stockman’s camp-fire dinner. This is the real outback experience with inspiring and humorous traditional entertainment. Next, the bush is illuminated by the Starlight’s Spectacular Sound & Light Picture Show – a unique big-screen presentation featuring the amazing adventures of the notorious cattle thief known as ‘Captain Starlight’. Finally, in the atmospheric surroundings of the bush at night, we enjoy the timeless favourite – billy tea and damper, before heading back to our motel (breakfast in motel / lunch at own cost / dinner on tour).
Albert Park Motor Inn, Longreach
We leave Longreach today and head off to experience the freedom of the vast open plains and Coolibah-lined creeks. We will see some dramatic and ever changing scenery around Winton including the “jump up” – a rugged mesa plateau formation that stands 75 metres above the surrounding plains. We visit the Australian Age of Dinosaurs for morning tea followed by a tour. There has been some ground breaking science discoveries in these parts, an area once home to dinosaurs. We see the largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils and the largest fossil preparation laboratory in the southern hemisphere. If we are lucky we may even get to touch a dinosaur fossil! Heading into town we arrive at the North Gregory Hotel for our lunch. Established in 1879 the hotel has an impressive history. The first public performance of Waltzing Matilda was here on April 6, 1895 while clandestine 1920s meetings saw the launch of a little airline named QANTAS. Our afternoon visit is to the newly built Waltzing Matilda Centre (opening date still to be confirmed), the only museum in the world dedicated to a song! There will be some free time to wander along the main street – make sure you take a look at the Opal Walk and the historic Royal Open Air Theatre and Museum. We then head to our motel for dinner and our overnight stay (breakfast & dinner in motel / lunch in hotel).
Matilda Motel, Winton
After breakfast the Kennedy Development Road takes us northeast to Hughenden where we’ll make a stop to have our picnic lunches. Said to be located on the edge of Australia’s ancient inland sea, these days the main industries are cattle and sheep grazing and tourism. From here we continue on through Torrens Creek and Campaspe to Charters Towers, an old gold mining city that is big on history and character. From a chance discovery of gold in 1871, the town was soon turned into a bustling metropolis which, in its heyday, boasted being the second largest city in Queensland. We’ll settle into our accommodation and freshen up for dinner (breakfast & dinner in motel / picnic lunches en-route).
Cattleman's Rest Motor Inn, Charters Towers
This morning we visit a most unusual and professional outfit – Texas Longhorn Tours. Upon arrival we take a ride in the wild west-replicated wagon plus visit the Longhorns, including JR – the 2012 world record holder of longest horns from tip to tip. We have a delicious morning tea including damper and billy tea followed by the chance to look through the gift shop and saddlery. We’ll stay for lunch then express through to Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays (breakfast & dinner in motel / lunch on tour).
Colonial Palms Motor Inn, Airlie Beach)
After an early breakfast we prepare to board the Reef Star Cruises vessel for our full day cruise through the beautiful Whitsundays. Our cruise will take us first to the spectacular Whitehaven Beach where we’ll transfer ashore to take in the Hill Inlet Lookout as well as enjoy the spectacular white sands of Whitehaven beach. As we cruise onto Bali Hai, we have our lunch in air-conditioned comfort with a selection of cold meats, salads and breads prepared daily. There is also a licensed bar onboard. Upon arrival at Bali Hai reef, we embark on a Glass bottom boat tour of the reef to see the colourful coral, fish and turtles. Afternoon tea is offered on our return to Airlie Beach. Our boat is met by the coach and transferred back to our resort (breakfast & dinner in motel / lunch on cruise).
Colonial Palms Motor Inn, Airlie Beach
We have another great day in store for us with a company called Proserpine River Eco Tours. We’ll transfer to their unique venture on a private section of the Proserpine River. Our day will be divided into two parts – first will be the crocodile safari where we take a cruise along the calm waters of the Proserpine River at low tide to see some of the local saltwater crocodile basking on the river banks. This is remote and fascinating. After the cruise we enjoy a BBQ lunch before a wetlands tour on an open-air wagon train to view the abundant wildlife across the Googanga Plains. It’s a nationally listed wetland habitat and we will experience some unique Australian scenery and wildlife as we travel through flood plains, pastures, saltpans and melaleuca forests. After a fascinating day we return to the motel (breakfast & dinner in motel / lunch on tour).
Colonial Palms Motor Inn, Airlie Beach
Following breakfast, we set off on our journey to Yeppoon, stopping for a lunch break (own expense) along the way. Before checking into our accommodation we take in the sights, including Emu Park. Fortunately there is an onshore breeze most days at Emu Park because, on the headland, stands a forty foot high, white steel and concrete sculpture of a ship which sings in the breeze. Completed in 1970 to commemorate Captain Cook’s bi-centenary, the Singing Ship contains pipes with various sized perforations, creating a singing sound. The area is just stunning. We’re off out tonight, so following our check in, we freshen up and head to the Footlights Theatre Restaurant for dinner. We not only enjoy a delicious meal but will be entertained with their one-hour comedy show as well, giving us an evening of fun and laughter! (breakfast in motel / lunch at own cost / dinner at restaurant).
Bayview Tower, Yeppoon
As we pass through Rockhampton this morning we will also cross the actual line of the Tropic of Capricorn. We are headed to the small towns of Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy where we’ll board the award-winning LARC (lighter amphibious resupply cargo vessel) for a picnic lunch cruise and tour. We travel along the coastline of the Eurimbula National Park and the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Disembarking the vessel, we continue through to our next overnight stop in Bundaberg (breakfast & dinner in motel / lunch included in tour) .
Country Comfort Bundaberg International
Bundaberg is a major sugar growing, processing and exporting centre. As we drive around Bundaberg, look out for a local landmark – the Whaling Wall - it is a fantastic marine life wall mural on one of Bundaberg's highest buildings in the town centre. We stop at the Hinkler House Museum, dedicated to the life and times of the aviator Bert Hinkler who was born in Bundaberg. In 1928 he made the first solo flight between England and Australia. The house in which he lived his final years was transported from Southampton, England, to its present location within the gardens. Some of the sugar grown in the region actually ends up in the famous Bundaberg Rum! Our tour complete, we head for home with wonderful memories of a fantastic 14 day tour (breakfast in motel / lunch at own cost).