Outback Events Road Trip – Winton to Bedourie

Week 1

We embarked on an epic two week journey through the heart of Queensland, on a road-trip to some of the Outback’s best events!

July brings the wild to the West, with a calendar of way-out events!

Every year, thousands of caravans head to the Simpson Desert for the World’s most remote music festival – the Birdsville Big Red Bash. But as they say, it’s not always about the destination…out here, it’s all about the journey.

We’ll introduce you to the people, the places and the parties that you’ll only find out this way.

Our ultimate Outback Events Road Trip takes in the best of the West – with a quintessential country Camp Draft & Rodeo in Bedourie; the Birdsville Big Red Bash; the quirkiness of the Bedourie Camel & Pig Races; along with the charm of the country towns and the characters along the way.

Leg 1: Winton

We’re starting in Winton, 2 hours west of Longreach. It’s home to acclaimed landscape and country music photographer John Elliott. He’s supremely passionate about the Outback, loves sharing stories, and especially loves showing off his town. One of his favourite secret spots is the 100 year old Royal Open Air Theatre – one of the last of its kind in Australia.

Every Wednesday, they fire up the old projectors to play a flick for visitors. But every July, the theatre comes to life for the Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival. Held over ten days, it’s a celebration of movie making in the Outback. The festival includes movie screenings, talks, workshops and a program where film students from around the world head to Winton to make a film in a week. Winton’s known as “Hollywood of the Outback”, and has been the scene for blockbusters like Goldstone and The Proposition. Some sets still remain on nearby properties, like Camara Station. While the locations set the scene, the true stories come from the real stars of the outback – farmers, stockmen and drovers…and you’ll find a few out this way who are willing to share their tales…

Travel Tips:

Longreach – Winton 180km / 2hrs

Winton Highlights:


Take a look behind the scenes of the 100 year old Royal Open Air Theatre in this Facebook Exclusive video.


Hear about the student films at Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival in this Facebook exclusive video.

Leg 2: Winton – Middleton


It was sunrise just west of Winton, the home of Waltzing Matilda, when we stumbled upon a scene from a Banjo Paterson poem.

We noticed some cattle, horses and a camp on the side of the highway – naturally we stopped to see what was going on, and a friendly fella named Ronnie Creavy introduced himself. Ronnie’s a 4th generation cattle drover, and his crew of 3 men were pushing 1400 head of cattle fifteen-hundred kilometres from a drought stricken station in Richmond to better grazing lands in Roma. It’ll take them 6-7months to move them via the traditional stock routes. This method provides another paddock for the cattle and keeps them fat.

“A lot of people think droving went out 80 years ago, but it hasn’t, it’s strong. And even now with the dry times, cattle are coming out of the south, there’s thousands of cattle walking around and people just don’t realise it.”

It was fascinating to get an authentic glimpse at life on the land, and that’s the beauty of driving through this part of the world – you can stop and have a yarn with some genuine characters.

There’s another genuine character further west in the town of Middleton, a 2 hour drive away. Follow the stock route west, towards Boulia (a 4 and a half hour drive away).

With our Winnebago in tow, we were enjoying the freedom of the open road, and got to take in some spectacular country. It’s pretty much a rite of passage for Queenslanders – the quintessential road-trip. The best way to do it is leave plans a little bit open and see where the journey takes you.

Along with drovers and stock, these routes were travelled by Cobb & Co coaches, and you’ll find an original 1876  changing station in the town of Middleton.

This is one of QLD’s most isolated pubs, but it’s worth the journey to have a yarn with the publican – Lester. He’s an ex-ringer, camelier, publican, retired bush poet and classic outback character. Having a beer at the Middleton Hotel is something to tick off your bucket-list.

Travel Tips:

Winton – Middleton 169km / 2hrs

Middleton – Boulia 194km / 2hr40m

TIP: stop at Cawnpore Lookout on the Way to Boulia (51km from Middleton) – it’s like a scene from a Wild West movie – red dirt, jump-ups and spectacular views of the surrounding hills.

TIP: Fuel up in Winton (maybe even get a jerry can), there are no fuel stops until Boulia. If it’s an emergency, the Middelton Hotel may be able to arrange a jerry can.


Winnebego Mossman C Caravan

Sleeps up to 6 – 3 bunks, Queen island bed, Full sized kitchen, Large family ensuite, USB points throughout.

Leg 3: Boulia

There are a lot of bush yarns and legends in the Channel Country, but the town of Boulia’s got a beauty. Boulia is the halfway point between Winton and Bedourie on our road-trip to Birdsville.

In the vast open plains of the outback, they say a mysterious light follows people in the dead of the night. The town’s Min Min Encounter is a 45-minute animatronics show that brings bush characters to life – with tales of the eerie ball of light that follows unsuspecting travelers. There are a few theories – some say it’s fluorescent gases released from the barren earth, or clouds of fireflies, maybe it’s a UFO…or perhaps something more sinister.

From mystery to history, the town of Boulia has many stories to tell and the Heritage Complex in town is the place to learn all about its past. The centre brings history to life – from farm relics and old machinery, to ancient residents that roamed this land millions of years ago. The marine reptile fossils are said to be some of the best specimens in the world, and they were found on nearby properties.

Knowing the past gives you a new appreciation for the drive through this ancient landscape.

Plenty of travelers enjoy the journey out this way every year and the Boulia Caravan Park was booming, with convoys bound for The Birdsville Big Red Bash. Big events like this draw people out to the bush, so all of the little towns along to way benefit. The Boulia Caravan Park is a great place to stop and relax, on the banks of the Burke River. There are cabins on offer, fabulous facilities for caravans and a wonderful host Darren who love the town and area. “Big Sky Country here, that’s what we call it. It’s the serenity, it’s the peaceful nature here, we love it and that’s why people come to see it.”


Travel Tips:

Middleton – Boulia 194km / 2hr40m

Boulia Highlights:


Boulia Caravan Park

Winton Rd, Boulia

Phone: (07) 4746 3320

Leg 4: Boulia – Bedourie


Bedourie’s a 3 hour drive from Boulia, smack bang at the halfway point to Birdsville. It’s a little town on the edge of the Simpson Desert, and every July, you can witness some of the very finest horsemanship in the Outback.

The annual Bedourie Campdraft, Rodeo & Gymkhana is a two day event that celebrates traditional bush sports. The Gymkhana offers horsemanship for all ages, even 4-year old kids have a go at the flags and barrel racing. The evening rodeo is a heart-pumping spectacle for the crowds. But it’s the Campdrafting that most people come to witness – it’s one of a few uniquely Australian sports. The Campdrafting attracts competitors from nearby stations, who come together to test their horsemanship skills. Bebe Manns is the Head Stockman at nearby Glengile Station, and to her this event is more than a competition “To be honest, Campdrafting is a way that we celebrate what we do every day out at work. We chase cattle obviously, we ride our horses and we get them going… a lot of people in the city have no idea what goes on and how everything works, and how we communicate to animals. They really love it. They always tell you they never knew it was like this and they think it’s amazing.”

The entire day is an awesome event for spectators and gives visitors a glimpse at outback life.

While events draw visitors to town, it’s the people that leave the biggest impression…and we met a bloke who goes by the name of Colgate (we’ll let you figure out why…). Colgate’s a Bedourie local of 40 years, and he’s the president of the Golf Club. Yeah, that’s right, there’s a 9 hole course, well, kinda (it’s a sand course in the middle of the outback, so don’t expect a manicured green). Anyone’s welcome to have a swing and the visitor centre will even loan you some clubs for a refundable deposit.

Colgate from Bedourie
Colgate from Bedourie

After playing a round, you can relax in Bedourie’s artisan pools and hot spa, or enjoy a coldy at the Bedourie Hotel. The hotel’s been wetting whistles since 1886, and its famous for whiskey…that’s the name of the owner’s dog.

While he doesn’t have a dog, Doug Coombes is the man to see about everything else! He runs The Simpson Desert Oasis Roadhouse down the road – the go-to for everything from food to fuel, beers, even a bed for the night.

He’s a mate of Colgate’s and the fellas showed us a typical arvo at their favourite waterhole. Freshly caught redclaw for dinner, cooked up on an open fire on the banks of the river…Nothing like some good old-fashioned fun to round-out a cracking day in the country.

Travel Tips:

Boulia – Bedourie 192km / 3hrs

TIP: Stop at the Vaughn Johnson Lookout 100km out of Boulia for beautiful views.

Bedourie Highlights:


Simpson Desert Oasis Roadhouse

Van park, cabins, fuel, convenience store, food, pub

1 Herbert Street, Bedourie
Phone 07 4746 1291

It was an incredible week on the road, we experienced real country life, drove through some spectacular landscapes and met some beautiful people who have definitely left an imprint.

But the adventure isn’t over yet!

Tune into Queensland Weekender next Saturday 15th September as we roll into Birdsville for the Big Red Bash! (you won’t believe what happens at the World’s most remote music festival)

And we end the journey back in Bedourie for the camel and pig races.

You won’t want to miss this one.

Watch Part Two

P.S. Jump on Facebook and Instagram for some behind the scenes fun! 

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