Outback Road Trips

Quilpie to Boulia

Thursday 28 April 2022: Day off in Quilpie

Heavy unseasonable rain closed all the roads to the north, west and south from Quilpie so we spent a day replanning our trip
The road to Longreach opened to 4WD so we planned to go that way to Lawn Hill and back via Birdsville, about a 2000 km detour

Friday 29 April 2022: Quilpie to Windorah 250 km

This is all new for us, never been this far west before.

We woke to a beautiful clear day in Quilpie and the news that the Birdsville road is open to 4WD so back to Plan A thankfully
The old Kyabra Creek crossing – now there’s a quality bitumen road with a concrete bridge
Kyabra Creek Rest Area
This part of Australia is so flat that Kyabra Creek drops only 20 meters in its 150 km length
The Diamantina Development Road is bitumen all the way to Windorah
The 44 gallon drums that held the tar rusting away beside the road
The wedge-tailed eagle is the largest bird of prey in Australia
Suddenly, 40km from the nearest town, the road is an emergency airstrip
To the delight of the local farmers, Cooper’s Creek is in flood
“If you don’t get a flood … you’re going to have a bad time. If you do get a flood, you’re home and hosed” (Anne Kidd, 2000)
Water is rising at the Coopers Creek bridge at Windorah
It’s expected to close the road from Quilpie tomorrow…
… cancelling the weekend’s Yellowbelly fishing competition
Signs on the Diamantina Development Road
We camped behind the Windorah Hotel, free with toilets and showers
The National Farmers Federation has ruled: “If a pub has the moral backbone to serve crumbed steak, then you are in the Outback. It doesn’t matter how hot the bitumen is, it doesn’t matter how red the dirt is. It doesn’t matter if the pub has those funny cartoons of sheep and trees on the wall. If there’s no crumbed steak, you may as well be in Maleny.” (Betoota Advocate)
The Windorah Hotel’s crumbed steak was the best we’ve had
An 1880s slab hut homestead restored in Windorah
On sunny days the Windorah Solar Farm will supply the total daytime electricity requirements for the town

Saturday 30 April 2022: Windorah to Betoota 230 km

Our TomTom GPS said “No Route possible” because of “Rock falls for 338 km”. Rock falls? This place is FLAT. Where are the rocks falling from?
The road is open for 4WD ONLY but it was very smooth, no fallen rocks
Beautifully red Ourdel Sandhills are 10k West of Windorah
King Browns inhabit the dunes and we spotted one crossing the road
Water spreads out over the flat Channel country
White-necked heron taking advantage of flooding where the surplus of food allows them to breed and raise their young
Two days ago the road was closed here
A pair of Plains Turkeys making a run for it
Native water well
Indigenous people crossed this harsh land for thousands to years
The road becomes gravel after the turn-off to Bedourie
It’s good quality and mostly smooth, well at least today. We saw about a dozen vehicles heading east and none heading west
View from Deons Lookout near Betoota
Sign needs updating: there’s now 3 – the publican and family
The Betoota Hotel was constructed of sandstone with timber floors in the late 1880s and is the last remaining building in town. It closed in 1997. Robert Haken from Logan bought the long-defunct hotel in 2017 and re-opened it in 2020.
Black Fish = Iron Jack Larger, White Fish = Great Northern Original Larger
Price is per block of 30 (Ice cold White Fish is $5 a can in the bar)
Helicopter pilot reducing weight after an afternoon at the Betoota Hotel before heading on the 2 can trip back to the station
Where else can you take your mates for a pub session in a chopper!

Sunday 01 May 2022: Betoota to Birdsville 170 km

Breakfast croissants at the boulangerie in Betoota’s leafy French Quarter
Our real breakfast – scrambled eggs in the stony desert
Dreamtime serpent travelling on Mithika country connecting the river systems of the Channel Country and the Diamantina
After the rain there’s life in the desert
We are in the transition from stony desert to sandy desert
This one didn’t quite make it to Birdsville
Welcome to Birdsville, population 115 (+/- 7000)
No, we are not here for the races!
Straight to the Birdsville Bakery…
…for a curry camel pie – so good I had to have two!
Then to fill the van after 400 km from Windorah
With 2 x 20 litre jerry cans we have a range of almost 1,000 km
And a couple of beers at the iconic Birdsville Hotel
A simple, stone building from 1884 listed by the National Trust
Royal Hotel, Birdsville Permanently closed (Google)
Erected 1883, from 1923-1937 the Australian Inland Mission Hospital
Artesian Borehead and Cooling Ponds supplies the town water
From a depth of 1,300 meters the water reaches the surface at 98°C
Birdsville – so named for the birds that gather around the billabong?

Monday 02 May 2022: Birdsville to Bedourie 190 km

A group of Waddi Trees 12 km north of Birdsville
One of Australia’s rarest plants, only 3 strands remain. These trees may be 500 years old. The wood is so hard it is almost impossible to burn.
The road to Bedourie is sealed about 75% sealed
There’s a table and chairs rest stop along the way
Carcory Homestead built in 1877 from local limestone, abandoned 1906 After losing 4,000 cattle in drought it was realised the area was unsuitable
Pam washing up in the near-boiling water of the Carcory Bore
As we approached Cuttaburra Crossing we thought “What’s that?”
It turned out to be thousands of Pelicans
The most spectacular sight – pelicans taking of over the ducks
A Black Swan cruising down the creek in the desert?
There were lots of other birds at Cuttaburra Crossing too
The grave of two ‘Afghan’ cameleers near the King Waterhole
From the 1880s to the 1920s, 11800 camels and 1500 handlers were imported to Australia
The old crossing of King Creek and the new bridge
Debris on the bridge shows the height of the flood waters
Mitchell Grass on the sand dunes 2 km south of Bedourie
A little bird welcomes us to Bedourie
Royal Hotel Bedourie, built of adobe bricks in 1886 is little changed except the thatch roof was replaced with iron
A quiet night at the Royal
The Mud Hut was erected in the early 1880s with mud from Eyre Creek
Since 2001 it has since been fully restored
We took a walk to the local billabong: these are some of the birds we saw

Tuesday 03 May 2022: Bedourie to Boulia 190 km

The road to Boulia opened to 4WD at 8:30 this morning so we could continue. We saw two other vehicles and four road trains.

MOTORCARBREAKDOWN CREEK
Of course there is no broken down car or even a creek!
The road is lined with pretty yellow flowers that bloom in the sun
Panoramic view from the Vaughan Johnson Bedourie Boulia Vista
Telstra is installing these 4g towers in some very remote places so there is unexpected internet 100 km from the nearest town
The mail must get through; the Post Carrier heading south
A few hours before the road was closed – we were easily able to cross
Brolgas dancing
The flood water has just dropped below the Georgina River Bridge
About 20 km south of Boulia there is another group of Waddi Trees
They make an eerie humming noise when the wind blows through their needle-like leaves

Boulia

We’ve been to Boulia before but this time we were the only visitors in the town which has been cut off by flood waters. Otherwise it’s all the same so the photos are here.

Min Min Lights mural on Boulia Sports Complex – Artist: Brightsiders (2019)
“The stockman claimed to have tried to ride away, but kept being pursued by the phantom lights till he arrived at the town boundary.” (Depicted headless here)
A rare white kangaroo with joey’s Boulia