In all, my road trip to central and western Queensland covered some 2600 kms (1616 miles) over the course of the four days.
For a road trip of this magnitude, you must be ready to tackle countless hours on lightly travelled roads as you explore remote parts of the country that many Australians will never see or experience. Pretty cool!
In my mind’s eye I’d imagined that where I was headed be in the grip of drought, and therefore didn’t expect that the Outback would be so lush and green
I was fortunate considering that the most recent drought, which had lasted some 16 years finally broke with heavy rains that turned the arid outback landscape into an inland sea for a short period.
So, it wasn’t totally surprising that my drive was through a veritable garden of Eden with 30 cm (1 foot) high pasture covering most of the usually dry, dusty and rocky landscape.
As you already know from previous essays I like to hit the road early, but not heading out of town I decided to hit Heinemann’s Country Bakery (84 Alfred Street, Charleville) for a delicious pastry or two and large flat white (yes, my brekkie of choice when on the road).
Many Australian towns have a local bakery that serves everything from your regular breads, cakes, croissants, and buns to coffee and other delicacies. A definite must have on any Aussie road trip!
After a satisfying breakfast I headed out of town on the Warrego Highway, east toward my first destination of the day – Roma!
What I found fascinating is that along this piece of highway between Charleville and Roma there were several small communities, some no larger than a house or two but surprisingly most started with the letter M.
I’m talking about – Morven, Mungallala, Mitchell, and Muckadilla. Try saying that three times fast!
Roma is a thriving community of just over 7,000 people and has a few things going for it.
Firstly, its home to the Australian oil & gas industry, after these precious natural resources were discovered there in 1900. In addition, Roma is home to the biggest cattle saleyards in the southern hemisphere, and if that weren’t enough it’s inundated with the prolific Queensland Bottle Trees flourish in this climate.
After a break and exploration of the town it was time to continue my quest to get home that night and sleep in my own bed.
By my calculation I still had 500 kms still to travel, especially as I planned to detour off the main highway and bypass Toowoomba and Brisbane and take a more scenic cross-country route.
Stopping for lunch I grabbed a bite to eat in the town of Chinchilla some 200 kms closer to my destination. A little-known fact that Chinchilla is Australia’s melon capital producing 25% of the country’s watermelons, rockmelons, and honeydew melons.
Prior to the town of Dalby I detoured and took a countryside road (unpaved) and headed overland.
Based on the road conditions I switched over to 4-wheel drive to help provide better traction on the corrugated and narrow road, as I navigated my way through rolling and picturesque hill country.
I made way through a myriad of small country towns – Kaimkillenbun, Cooyer, Yarraman, Blackbutt, Kilcoy, D’Aguilar and eventually Caboolture.
From Caboolture to home is only 30 kms…
Much of this area, particularly from Yarraman onwards is heavily forested and part of the Beerburrum state forest. Nothing better than driving through a beautiful eucalyptus forest.
Over the course of my journey, I’ve traversed almost every type of climate and topology that Australia has to offer.
From the humidity of the tropical rainforests and coastal delta of Rockhampton to the searing heat and desolation of Longreach, to the endless pastures of my drive to Charleville, and finally the rolling hills and eucalyptus forests near Caboolture.
Endless beauty on my adventure!
So what did I learn on my trip?
Well for starters, I’m now able to check this part of Australia off my list of “must see and experience” places. Woohoo!
It also reinforced what I already knew about Australia in that it’s both staggeringly beautiful yet unrelenting in terms of its climate and geographic breadth.
The big highlights for me were the night sky in Charleville, the abundance of wild kangaroos and birdlife and of course visiting the “Black Stump” as dad had told me so much about it as a child…
At the end of the day, you really have to want to make this trip. It’s not for the faint of heart, nor those that don’t like a long and open road ahead of them.
If you go – be prepared and take extra supplies of water, food, sun protection and insect repellent. If you plan to go beyond the main roads and into the deep Outback then definitely bring traction boards and a satellite phone along with the other items already outlined.
The outback is harsh and unrelenting all year round so be prepared for literally anything…
That being said – enjoy every moment of your adventure!
Until next week