Take the road trip through some of Australia’s most remote townships of southern Queensland to the iconic town of Birdsville. It’s a bucket list road trip that’ll take you to the junction of some spectacular off-road tracks. Yes, it’s in the middle of nowhere, but, should you make the drive? Without a doubt! If you’ve got the spirit of adventure, we’ve got a 4WD that’ll take you on an outback trip of a lifetime!
To inspire you to plan your Birdsville road trip, we’ve put together this complete guide. Here you’ll find a recommended route, driving distances, places we love to stay and eat and all the best things to do both with and without your 4WD. But, don’t take our word for it, read on to find out why you should head off-road into the outback.
Birdsville road trip breakdown:
Distance from Brisbane: direct – 25 hours (1,580kms) or recommended loop – 68 hours (3,500kms)
Recommended road trip circuit from Brisbane:
- St George
- Birdsville to Brisbane via Windorah and Roma
Things to Pack:
- Enough bottled water to last at least 3 days (plus some extra)
- Snacks for the road trip
- At least 3 days of dry food for meals that will keep in the car. Think porridge, soup, pasta, tuna, etc.
- Sleeping bags, mats and a tent
- A spare tyre ( included in all fleetcrew’s 4×4 vehicles)
- Car and/or solar charger for your phone
- Camera and/or GoPro
- A map
- A printed copy of any accommodation bookings and 4WD permits
- Spare fuel
And, of course, your sense of adventure! So, here we go…
Stop 1: St George town, Shire of Balonne, Qld.
Pick up your 4WD the night before you plan to leave, load it up and get a good night’s sleep so you’re ready to leave bright and early. Toowoomba is a great place to stop if you haven’t had breakfast. We like the Firefly Café with its interesting treats.
After some food, continue on to Goondiwindi on the border of New South Wales and Queensland. Have lunch at the striking Victoria Hotel, wander the shops or take a tour of a local cotton and gin farm. Don’t forget to take a walk along the Macintyre River to stretch your legs before you head off.
Time it right and you should also stop at the Nindigully Pub near Thallon, the Queensland’s oldest pub. After that, roll on into St George for the night.
Distance from Brisbane: 8 hours (550kms)
Things to do:
- See Stavros Margheritas’ Magnifient Egg
- Fish for cod
- Wander through the towns historic buildings
Stop 2: Thargomindah town, South West Qld
Beyond St George the landscape really begins to change. Stop for lunch at the Boulder’s in Cunnamulla, kayak down the Warrego or sandboard down the dunes before hitting the road again.
Another worthwhile stop off point is the tiny township of Eulo. Here you’ll find the Eulo Mud Baths where you can soak in a claw foot bath in 40-million-year-old artesian mud. You can also visit Australia’s most remote vineyard and date farm.
Distance from St George: 6 hours (500kms)
Things to do:
- Visit the ‘Dig’ Burke and Wills tree
- Take a heritage walk around town
- Walk along the Bulloo River
Where to eat: Coffee on Dowling
Stop 3: Innamincka town, North East SA
Leaving Thargominah make sure you’re self-sufficient with plenty of water, food and fuel. The road is sealed for about 200kms and then turns to an unsealed 4WD only track. Shortly before you reach the Queensland-South Australia border, you’ll pass the ‘Dig Tree’ where Burke and Wills’ expedition ended tragically. Also, don’t forget to stop at the Cullyamurra Waterhole just outside of Innamincka to see the Aboriginal rock carvings.
Things to do:
- Hiking and canoeing in the Innamincka Regional Reserve
- Fish in Coopers Creek
Where to eat: The Outamincka (attached to the Innamincka Hotel – steak and mushroom pie is a must!)
From Innamincka there’s a couple of options to get to Birdsville. You can either take 226kms of the famous Birdsville Track or the more direct Cordillo Downs road.
On the Birdsville Track (one of Queenslands best 4WD tracks) you’ll need to drive with your lights on to see through the dust. It’s well worth the detour to experience as the vastness of the outback. Although the condition of this road is generally good, particular care should be taken after rain or during summer.
On the other hand, the Cordillo Downs road will take you via the heritage listed Cordillo Downs shearing shed which is the largest in the world. The track can be rough. Take it easy and don’t underestimate how sharp some of the turns are.
Once you reach Birdsville, be sure to stop at the Birdsville Pub for a well-deserved cold one!
Things to do at Birdsville :
- Watch the sunset over ‘Big Red’, a 40m high sand dune on the edge of the Simpson Desert
- Birdsville Races in September
- Complete the Birdsville Track, if you haven’t done so already
- Bird watching on the Diamantina River
- Kayak, fish and/or swim in the billabong
- Visit the extremely rare Waddi Trees
- Admire the view from Deon’s Lookout
- Take a scenic flight over Big Red, the Simpson Desert, Goyders Lagoon and Strzelecki Tracks
Birdsville to Brisbane Return Trip:
The drive back to Brisbane from Birdsville can be completed in two very long days of driving. If you want to shoot back quickly, overnight somewhere like Quilpie. This small town is the home of Australia’s largest dinosaur find and makes for an easy overnight stay.
Route to take: However, if you’re not keen for such huge drives, we recommend taking 3 days to get back to Brisbane. During the first day, cover 380kms (11 hours) to Windorah. There’s not much to do in town so grab a bite to eat at the Western Star Hotel (winner of the best outback Queensland pub) and get an early night. You can also sleep at this hotel but if you’d prefer there’s free camping 10kms down the road at Cooper’s Creek.
The following day, drive 724kms to Roma. Here you’ll find plenty of different places to sleep.
From Roma, you’ve only got 476kms to cover to Brisbane. It should only take you about 6 hours so you’ll be home in plenty of time to return your, probably now much loved vehicle.
What to do and where to stop for breaks:
- Fishing and birdwatching at Coopers Creek
- Join the outback postie as he completes the Outback Mail Run
- See opals being cut and polished at a shop in Quilpie
- Swim at the Great Artesian Spa in Mitchell
- Watch Australia’s largest cattle auction at Roma every Tuesday and Thursday morning
- Visit the Wallumbilla Railway Station; the site of a tragic rail disaster
For more off-road adventures on your way back to Brisbane, consider these interesting detours:
- Mt Moffatt National Park
- Carnarvon Ranges National Park
- Expedition National Park
- Condamine Gorge
- Boarder Ranges National Park
If you would like more information on these destinations, read our Inland 4WD track article here.
Your Outback Adventure
So, are you keen to buckle up and venture out onto the dirt desert road?
It’s a trip of a lifetime that’s a total must-do for any 4WD enthusiast. If you don’t have your own 4WD or don’t want to put so many kilometres on yours, simply hire your ultimate discovery vehicle from FleetCrew.
With a great range of recreational vehicles, serviced and ready to hit the track, we’ll help your Birdsville Road Trip run smoothly. All our vehicles come with comprehensive insurance, unlimited kilometres and 24/7 RACQ roadside assistance for complete peace of mind.
So, all you need to do is get in touch with one of our friendly representatives for a free quote today.