It doesn't take long for the towers of Brisbane to give way to bucolic countryside, fading from rainforest to the vivid hues of the outback. Australia has its fair share of epic outback train tours that let you witness the wild beauty of a region while travelling the historic routes taken by past generations.
Among them is Spirit of the Outback, your chariot to Longreach on the first leg of your adventure. Exclusive access to the train's Shearers Rest Lounge means you can enjoy a glass of bubbles while remote towns and vast stretches of bush zip by outside, the click-clack or the rails a meditative soundtrack. Dinnertime in Tuckerbox Restaurant celebrates Queensland's culinary bounty. And then your plush cabin awaits. Sweet dreams. (D) Stay: Spirit of the Outback, Private Cabin
Wake up to vistas of the Queensland outback and savour the scene over coffee and your breakfast in the train's dining carriage. If you're looking for the centre of Queensland, Longreach is pretty much it. After waving goodbye to train life, you're bound for this patch of outback perfection, all red dirt and spinifex and blazing sunsets.
The vast swathes of nature that surround your glamping tent for the next 2 nights will slow you down. Switch off, relax and enjoy your eco-friendly cocoon, replete with creature comforts including air-conditioning, ensuites and dreamy beds. There are unexpected stories at Camden Park Station, a 7,300-hectare sheep and cattle station where fifth-generation farmer ‘Outback Dan' will tell you about life on the land including the visit of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. They didn't have a three-course dinner awaiting them in historic shearing shed; you do. (B/L/D) Stay: Mitchell Grass Retreat (2 nights)
For a petite town, there's an impressive number of things to do in Winton. The biggest attraction of all are the dinosaurs that once roamed here, leaving behind the country's largest collection of dinosaur fossils. Follow in their (large) footsteps at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs, part museum, part working laboratory, where you'll go behind the scenes.
Winton's other claim to fame is the fact Banjo Patterson wrote ‘Waltzing Matilda' here in 1903. He's not the only creative drawn here. Graeme Leak created a fence that can be played as an instrument (aka the Musical Fence), and Arno Grotjahn erected a quirky art wall studded with every household object imaginable. Back at your glamping tent, there's a kitchenette, so you can enjoy a BBQ on your private deck. Or venture out for more country flavour at an optional outback dinner and show. (B)
There's plenty of things to do in Longreach, like visiting the Qantas Founders Museum, which pays homage to the fact this is the spiritual heart of Australia's national airline. The countryside from here to Quilpie is mesmerising - long stretches of road and vast expanses of nothing can be humbling.
And welcoming, as you'll discover when Mark and Sandra throw open the doors of Ray Station. The family has owned this estate since 1874, and designed the rooms you'll bed down in - set in restored shearers' quarters. But before then, there's a campfire dinner and tunes on the tin piano to be enjoyed. (B/D) Stay: Ray Station (2 nights)
There's something about being in the country that whets your appetite. Wake, and look forward to a delicious breakfast prepared by your hosts. You won't go hungry here - they're also thinking about what to cook you for lunch and dinner. It's this kind of generosity that flows naturally into eye-opening, and entertaining, stories about the property, including previous caretakers, and how they tended the land.
You can even discover more about their fascinating history: at the family cemetery. Head out on a tour, fossick for boulder opal, and revel in the vastness of Quilpie - certainly one of the best places to visit in Queensland's vast outback. (B/L/D)
The further you travel in Queensland, the slower the outback lifestyle. As evidenced in Charleville, which is a slice of natural paradise for the endangered bilbies and wetland birds. The locals will happily reveal the best places to spot wildlife, ideally over a cold beer and a pub meal at heritage-listed Hotel Corones. The stories that get told here. The horizons here extend for days, only matched in expanse by the smiles of locals - expect plenty of country hospitality, not at the least from Charles and Amanda who own your accommodation for the night.
Toast the end of the day with them over a glass of wine and regional fare at your farewell dinner. (B/D) Stay: Roma Explorers Inn
There are currently no departures available on this trip. Either it's the end of the season and new departures will be released shortly, or this itinerary has been changed and will no longer continue. Feel free to contact us for information about when next seasons dates will be released or click here to view the general release dates for all destinations.
8 Days Adelaide Adelaide
Operated By: AAT Kings