Wild West & Coastal QLD Odyssey
Wild West & Coastal QLD Odyssey
Natural Wonders and a Timeless Past
15 Days Tour
Price TBA - JAN 31st
Monday 9th to Monday 23rd August 2021
The vast expanses of Western Outback Queensland reveal the remains of long extinct dinosaurs and megafauna for us to examine and marvel over. The terrain attracted the hardiest of early settlers and explorers who whilst battling adversity and the tyranny of distance developed successful cattle and mining industries along with the iconic Qantas airline. Learn of their celebrated exploits and stories of bushlife, the birthplaces of Banjo Paterson’s Waltzing Matilda, the labour and political movements and the tragic result that white European settlement had for Aboriginal inhabitants. The natural landscape is big and dramatic from the Mitchell Grass Plains and the Diamantina River course dotted with large mesa formations, the Simpson Desert and its extensive red dunes to the Channel Country and the iconic Cooper Creek. The wildlife and particularly the birds will be abundant on this tour following on from the current La Nina climatic event. Walk the fascinating and cavernous Carnarvon Gorge and the “Roof of Queensland” at Mt Moffatt admiring the aboriginal rock art and towering sandstone cliffs. Meander through picturesque farmland and quaint villages as you travel east to the Queensland coast before flying to the outer Great Barrier Reef. Discover the natural wonder of Lady Elliot Island, home to Manta Ray and all manner of marine life in a coral cay regarded as one of the worlds best for snorkelling. End your tour taking in some of the Sunshine Coast’s hidden natural gems, some amongst the Wallum wildflowers that will be in full bloom, others in enchanting rainforest or on deserted beaches.
Day By Day Presentation:
Day 1: Bushmen, Stage Coaches, Riverboats and Aviators
Arrive in Longreach by Qantas Plane ex Brisbane OR on the Spirit of the Outback Train the afternoon before. Visit the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, the Qantas Founders Museum or enjoy the thrill of a galloping Cobb & Co Stagecoach bush ride. Board the Thomson Princess Riverboat for a sunset Thomson River cruise followed by a Stockman’s campfire dinner and the Starlight’s Spectacular Sound & Light Picture Show.
Day 2: Station Life and Wonderous Winton
Experience pioneering life at a real working station, its historic wool-sheds and Captain Starlight’s stockyard. View wild camels, donkeys and native wildlife from an open top safari bus before departing in our bus to Winton. Tour the brilliant Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum complex and the largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils in the world. Check out the eccentric Arno’s wall and Willie Mar Chinese Market Garden Heritage Site, a stone’s throw from your stylish accommodation.
Visit Wilton’s Waltzing Matilda Centre and Qantilda Museum before travelling northeast through the picturesque Ayrshire Hills for lunch at the Blue Healer Hotel at Kynuna. Stroll along the Combo Waterhole to the site where Banjo Paterson was inspired to write the lyrics of Waltzing Matilda. Return to Winton to explore its many historical and cultural sites at leisure including the oldest operating open air picture theatre in QLD.
Day 3: Come a Waltzing Matilda
Day 4: An Abundance of Natural Treasures
View the birds, wildlife and the unique natural features of Bladensburg National Park, its original 120 year old homestead complex and sites of national historical significance. Ramble around historic Opalton, Queensland’s Capital of Boulder Opal with an experienced opal miner. Try your luck fossicking. View the setting sun from atop a red mesa (jump-up) replete with wine and cheese before stargazing one of the darkest skies in the world.
We visit the site of the Dinosaur stampede at Lark Quarry where over 3,300 footprints of at least 150 dinosaurs were imbedded 95 million years ago. We follow the Diamantina River and its lakes system deep in the Diamantina National Park. We pass through the Mitchell Grass Plains, mesa formations and learn about Burke and Wills tragic expedition on our journey to the town of Bedourie staying overnight at its historic hotel.
Day 5: Stampeding Dinosaurs and the Diamantina
Departing Bedourie, you observe birdlife on Eyre Creek, visit 1000 year old Waddi Trees, the iconic Birdsville Hotel and the Simpson Desert’s “Big Red” sand dune. Traversing the Sturt Stoney Desert view Australia’s largest and historic shearing shed at Cordillo Downs Station and the Burke and Wills Dig Tree. Arriving in South Australia’s remote outback town of Innamincka learn of the early settlers and Aboriginals challenges living in this hot desert and seasonal floodplain.
Day 6: Deserts, Floodplains and Iconic Outback Pubs
Day 7: Unearthing Natural Treasures
Traveling deep into the Channel Country dotted with interesting gas and oil fields you’ll visit the historic Noccundra Hotel on the way to Eromanga, Australia’s furthest town from the sea. Home to megafauna fossils of the giant Diprotodon - the worlds largest marsupial, Cooper - a Titanosaur, Australia’s largest dinosaur it provides a hands-on encounter with prehistoric Outback Australia. At Quilpie admire the local church’s Opal Altar and a stunning sunset from Baldy Top Lookout.
Day 8: Elegant Emus, Bilbys and Skyward Secrets
After morning tea at the Elegant Emu in the once burgeoning town of Adavale we travel to Charleville to meet up close a Bilby, one of our cutest marsupials. Experience the Top Secret WW11 Tour of the little known USAAF Base that housed 3500 US Servicemen and 160 aircraft. After exploring Space at the Cosmos Centre you’re off to Morven with its eclectic collection of objects from a bygone era and tonight’s rest stop.
Departing Morven we enjoy morning tea at Major Mitchell’s 1845 expedition’s remote campsite. In the Mount Moffatt section of the Carnarvon National Park be mesmerised by Aboriginal rock art in a shelter that contained burial chambers. Hear tales of a colourful pastoral past involving outlaws and cattle duffing amongst stunning rock outcrops including the Cathederal Rock, The Chimneys, The Looking Glass, Lots Wife and Marlong Arch. At days end depart for the town of Injune.
Day 10: Carnarvon’s Gorgeous Gorge
Water has carved a mosaic of winding gorges, towering sandstone cliffs and basalt capped tablelands. Explore the beauty of the Amphitheatre, Ward’s Canyon, the Art Gallery and the Moss Garden. For the fitter participants venture further to Cathedral Cave and Boowinda Gorge. Expect encounters with local wildlife on the shady banks of Carnarvon Creek including whiptail wallabies, a rummaging echidna or a playful platypus. An active day will end in Moura for rest.
Day 11: Simple Country Pleasures
After viewing the Moura’s open cut coal mine we meander through picturesque farmland and quaint villages interrupted by ranges of wonderous sandstone mountains. We visit the town of Theodore on the banks of the Dawson River before lunching at the historic Cracow Hotel owned by Fred Brophy of carnival boxing tent fame. Continuing through scenic countryside and interesting rural communities we arrive at Bundaberg where we visit the Rum distillery, sleeping the night on Bargara’s beachfront.
Day 12: Manta Rays and Marine Marvels
Your 30 minute flight departs Bundaberg early to the spectacular Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, on a coral cay located at the southern tip of the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef. Situated within a highly protected ‘Green Zone’ the coral cay is a sanctuary for over 1,200 species of marine life.
Two days of Snorkelling or Scuba Diving will get you up close with an abundance of manta rays, turtles and spectacular marine life on unspoilt coral reef.
Lady Elliot Island
Day 13: Best Snorkelling in the World
Lonely Planet voted Lady Elliot Island #2 of the ‘7 best beaches for snorkelling around the world in 2020. As one of the most important seabird nesting sites in the entire Great Barrier Reef it is a magnet for bird watchers. It boasts a noddy bird rookery and is home to several breeding pairs of red-tailed tropic birds and many other species. We depart at 4.00 pm by plane to Hervey Bay travelling inland to countryside Amamoor to rest.
Did you know ?
The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History in Winton is home to the world’s largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils. A working dinosaur museum with the most productive Fossil Preparation Laboratory in the Southern Hemisphere is home to their exciting finds of unique dinosaurs that lived 100 million years ago, including gigantic sauropods and “Banjo”, Australia’s greatest carnivorous dinosaur.
The dinosaur trackways at Dinosaur Stampede National Monument were formed 95 million years ago when Outback Queensland was a vastly different place. A herd of at least 150 small two-legged dinosaurs, including carnivorous coelurosaurs about the size of chickens and slightly larger plant-eating ornithopods, came to drink at the edge of a lake. Over 3,300 footprints of these long-extinct dinosaurs are scattered over the rock face, stark evidence of the terror they must have experienced as they fled the scene upon the arrival of a large theropod. This snapshot of a few terrifying moments has been frozen in time, immortalising the event and making Winton home to the only known dinosaur stampede in the world.
"Waltzing Matilda" is Australia's best-known bush ballad, and has been described as the country's "unofficial national anthem". The original lyrics for Waltzing Matilda were written in 1895 near Winton, by Australian poet Banjo Paterson, and were first published as sheet music in 1903.
One of Australia’s rarest plants, the Waddi Trees (Acacia puece) have spiky, needle-like leaves and thick bark. A copse of rare and ancient Waddi Trees on the fringe of the Simpson Desert is considered to be 500-1000 years old, and one of only three such groups of Waddi Trees left in Australia. The Waddi tree piqued early explorer William John Wills’ interest, with some samples of the seeds found buried in his diary after his death.
The Channel Country is in south-west Queensland, extending into South Australia and New South Wales. About 70% of the Channel Country's estimated 280,000 sq km is in Queensland. It is defined by having braided, flood and alluvial plains. In flood time the watercourses overflow into distributaries and channels, sometimes reaching 80 km across. It’s main watercourses are the Georgina, Diamantina, Bulloo Rivers and Cooper Creek. On the rare occasions of massive floodwaters, the watercourses discharge into Goyders Lagoon, Lake Eyre and Coongie Lakes across the state borders.
Lady Elliot Island is the southern most coral cay of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia and is a sanctuary for over 1,200 species of marine life. Lonely Planet voted Lady Elliot Island number two of the seven best beaches for snorkelling around the world in 2020. Lady Elliot Island is known as the ‘Home of the Manta Ray’ and these giant kites of the sea are the world’s largest ray, with a wing span of up to seven meters. Three species of sea turtles frequent Lady Elliot Island throughout the year – Hawksbill, Green and Loggerhead turtles. Green and Loggerhead turtles are the only ones that nest on the Island.
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Day 9: Explore the “Roof of Queensland”
Day 14: Walking the Wallum Wildflowers
The day will commence with a scenic drive through the Sunshine Coast Hinterland rainforest and a walk in the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary, host to seven different vegetation communities and over 200 species of birds. Along the coast in the Wallum Heathland you will walk amongst a mosaic of brilliant colour and foliage. The day amongst the wildflowers will end enjoying the beach at Marcoola where critical habitat provides for wallum frogs and many birds species.
Day 15: Climb Through 25 Million Years
Your last day commences with a short climb up Mount Coolum, a 25 million year old dome composed of rhyolite. Ecologically it is one of the most diverse square kilometres in Australia with 590 flowering plants, 49 ferns and over 100 mosses and lichens recorded. The views once atop are astounding. A final dip in the briny sea will cap off your tour before preparing to transit to the airport to return home to reflect on your adventure!