Outback Road Trip – From Bedourie to Birdsville

Week 2

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.


Last week we took in the best of the west from Winton, with our Winnebego in tow. We timed our visit with the Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival. We got a glimpse at life on the land, met some authentic Outback characters and made our way to Bedourie for the excitement of the true Australian sport of Campdrafting.

Watch Episode 1 here!

In Week 2 we arrive in Birdsville, we explore the frontier town, then get amongst all the action at the Big Red Bash….and if that’s not enough action for you, we finish our road-trip in Bedourie for the quirky Camel & Pig Races! It’s a journey that you can re-create for yourself next year…and trust us, it’s one heck of an adventure!



In the heart of dry and isolated country you’ll find a place rich in history and wild beauty. Birdsville sits on the edge of the Simpson Desert, in the corner of Queensland, South Australia and The Northern Territory. It’s a long drive from any direction, but it attracts caravans, 4WD enthusiast and adventure seekers from all over the country. We made our way here from Bedourie, a 3hr drive away (if you’re heading to The Birdsville Big Red Bash, we recommend visiting the Bedourie Campdraft & Rodeo on your way down).


We don’t know about you, but an outback road trip always has us hankering for a good pie and a bakery…and Birdsville happens to have baked goods that are well worth the long drive! The Birdville Bakery is an icon of the Outback, they’re famous for their curried camel pie (you have to tick that off your bucket list).

Around the time of the Big Red Bash it fuels up thousands of people…in fact they bake five to six thousand pies a day! But it’s more than pies that brings visitors here from all over the world. The frontier town is famous for its rugged beauty, its pioneering history and the Birdsville Hotel. You can’t go to Birdsville without having a coldy inside the historic hotel walls – afterall, it’s one of the most iconic pubs in Australia. The Birdsville Hotel has been welcoming travellers since 1884 and if the walls could talk, they’d have plenty of stories to tell (the bartenders will tell you a few).

Birdsville’s one of those places where you get an authentic outback experience and there’s something called the Birdsville Bucket List – you have to have a beer at the pub; a camel pie from the bakery; and make your way out to the edge of the Simpson Desert to head up to the top of Big Red! Big Red is the tallest sand dune in the Simpson Desert, standing at 40 metres high, it lures 4-wheel drive enthusiasts and sunset seekers. (Trust us, the views at sunset are breathtaking)

Travel Tips:

Bedourie – Birdsville: 200km / 3hrs

Stop at Carcory Homestead Ruins on the way into Birdsville. A popular spot to camp for the night.

Birdsville Highlights:

  • The Birdsville Hotel
  • Birdsville Bakery
  • Birdsville Billabong (head there for sunrise or sunset)
  • Big Red/The Simpson Dessert
  • Desert Edge Tours

Find information on our Birdsville highlights here. 

STAY: Birdsville Hotel


Birdsville Big Red Bash

With its vast red sandy plains and endless blue skies, The Simpson Desert is the biggest sand dune desert on the planet…and once a year, this faraway place attracts thousands!

For 3 days in July, thousands of music lovers, party animals and 4WD enthusiasts arrive in convoy to kick up some dust to Australian rock royalty! The Birdsville Big Red Bash is a music festival like no other, set on a 10 storey-high Sand dune called Big Red…and the line-up is just as big! 2018 saw John Farnham, Cate Cebrano, John Stevens, The Angels, Adam Brand, The Hoodu Gurus, and Daryl Braithwaite entertain the masses.


This year, a record 9000 people called Bashville home for the 3 days! (that’s the name of the pop-up desert village). A caravan has to be the best way to do a festival…you can enjoy a few creature comforts from home, but you’re in the middle of the action! We enjoyed a little luxury in our Winnebego Mossman C Caravan – air-con, a queen sized bed, 3 bunks, full kitchen, bathroom with a washing machine and a good amount of entertaining space.

You set up camp right in the heart of the festival, with Big Red as the backdrop behind the stage – it’s unreal!


In true outback-festival style, there’s is a full program of off-stage fun – including the Australian outback air guitar championships, dune surfing, kids activities, outback comedians The Crack-up Sisters keep up the smiles and 2018 also saw a Guinness World Record Nutbush! But there’s one Bash tradition that’s always a highlight…the iconic Drag Race sees hundreds of colourful characters, dressed in drag, running down the largest sand-dune in the Simpson Desert. It is quite a sight to see, but the atmosphere is something else. The fun-level is off the chart! People go all out, there’s all walks of life from all over Australia, and everyone is there to have a good time – it’s pretty awesome.


If you’re still wondering why you should travel to the middle of nowhere for a concert, Adam Brand summed it up perfectly…

“I think the answer to that starts the day they leave home. The journey to get there, the journey home, meeting friends who’ve done it before, getting around the campfire, seeing artists here in the middle of nowhere. I think it’s all that common bond. This event is one of those bucket lost events, and I think that’s what really binds people together…and they’re all here for one big party under the stars.”

This really is the experience of a lifetime, so get planning for 2019!

Travel Tips:

Be well prepared for the journey and camping at The Big Red Bash. The website has all the details on supplies, facilities, and journey planning.

Tip: get a group together and make personalised crew shirts and bring props for the Drag Race and a sense of humour.


Winnebego Mossman C Caravan


Birdsville – Bedourie

Travelling through the Outback you really do come to expect the unexpected. They do things in their own unique way, you could even say that out here pigs really do fly!

…well, they fly around the race track.

The Bedourie Camel and Pig Races is a uniquely outback event! Yep, forget horses and dogs, out West they love racing animals that aren’t usually raced.


Kev “the pig whisperer” Kiley is quite the character. He takes his thoroughbred racing pigs, and a hint of sarcasm, all over the country. It’s quite the spectacle to watch the little piglets, dressed in colourful sequinned vests, run around an obstacle course while the crowd cheers on…but wait til you hear their names! Kev went with a political theme for 2018 – we’re talking Pauline Hamson, Malcom Turnboar, Bill Shortham and Tony Abattoir, to name a few.

Gotta love that country sense of humour!

Another character you may run into is our mate Colgate Stewart (the guy with the big smile, who we met at the Bedourie Camp Draft last week). He’s one of the organisers who started this event 20 years ago “Well it started out as a couple of blokes sitting around a bottle of rum, talking about camels. We started with about 100people, that was the town’s population. Now we’ve got over 2000 visitors now, maybe a bit over. It’s unbelievable.”

Colgate & Sammie
Colgate & Sammie

The event’s grown to include the camp oven cook-off (the special Bedourie Camp Oven was invented in the town), there’s also woodchopping, foot-races, events for the kids and camel rides…but the main event is still the camel races!

It’s incredible to watch these giant animals galloping down the track – with a jockey clinging to a hump on the back…oh and did we mention there’s no steering?! It’s wild fun and an event that you have to experience firsthand (not sure you’d want to be a jockey, but being a spectator is thrilling enough).

This was certainly one whirlwind adventure, and what a way to finish, with another cracking event, fuelled by the passion of a little outback community. These events are the lifeblood of outback towns – they bring a community together, but more importantly, the locals are proud to share their town and a glimpse at their life with visitors.

Travel Tips:

Birdsville – Bedourie: 200km / 3hrs

Bedourie Highlights:

  • Artesian Spa & Aquatic Centre
  • Bedourie Mud Hut
  • Outback Golf Course
  • The Riyal Hotel
  • Simpson Desert Oasis Roadhouse/Pub
  • Campdraft & Rodeo also in July

Find information on our Bedourie highlights here. 


Simpson Desert Oasis Roadhouse

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

1 Herbert Street, Bedourie
Phone 07 4746 1291

Why not plan your own Outback events road trip next July…although this part of the world is worth a visit at anytime.

Big red sand dunes and big red skies, stations and star gazing, wetlands and waterholes – Outback Queensland is a big place, full of big characters, big hearts, big events, & even bigger adventures. Experience it for yourself.

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