The small town of Birdsville is an Outback Queensland icon and famous for yearly events like the Big Red Bash Music Festival and the Horse Racing. Matt and I spent a few days exploring this quaint country town, which helped me bring todays list of the best things to do in Birdsville.
If you didn’t know, It’s located near the border of South Australia and also very close to Northern Territory in Australia. The tiny population is only 140 people but it can receive anything from 40,000 to 60,000 tourists each year.
So, what can you do there? Read on a find out!
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17 Best Things to do in Birdsville, Queensland
1. Conquer the Big Red Sand Dune
No highlights list of your trip to the outback is complete without driving up the Big Red Sand Dune. So, I have the ask – Will you take the Big Red Challenge and tackle the 4WD drive up? I’m not an experienced four-wheel driver, but if you have your basics down, it doesn’t seem to be that difficult.
The Big Red Sand Dune stands 40 metres and is the highest Sand Dune in the parallel series of 1100+ sand dunes going into the Simpson Desert. It’s located about 35 kilometres outside of Birdsville and is a popular spot for those Sunset views.
After parking at the top of the Dune, you have the freedom to walk around for miles. If you’re the first up there for the day, you will find the brilliantly formed sand ripples from the wind. Therefore, it’s a brilliant photography location and you can check out my experience in my video HERE.
Once you drive over Big Red, you can tackle the rest of the Sand dunes and drive to Poeppel Corner in the Munga Thirri National Park. We managed to drive a couple of hours into this and where I found plenty more Australian Wildflowers.
2. Grab a drink at the Hotel
The Birdsville Hotel has everything you need from the Bar, Lounge, Restaurant, Beer Garden, and Accommodation. Therefore, you should be stopping here at least once on your trip, but we used it as our accommodation and found it exceptional.
Admire the architecture, have a few drinks in the bar, or sit down for a nice country meal. Know that the building is listed on the Queensland Heritage Register, as well as the courthouse.
3. Learn about the Beetle Car
Cross off your best things to do in Birdsville and Meet Onslo! It’s the little, blue beetle car that was the first Volkswagen Beetle to cross the Simpson desert. This means tackling and surviving the 1100 sand dunes mentioned above (including Big Red). Now that’s impressive!
It’s located at the Roadhouse in town!
4. Find a Sturt Desert Pea wildflower
Ordinarily, I’m not one for flowers but knew that Outback Queensland contained heaps, and I was travelling at the right time of year to see them. A lot of the Australian Wildflowers I saw were outside of Eromanga. Alternatively, I managed to catch heaps more after driving over Big Red and closer to the Simpson Desert.
The Sturt Desert Pea has been high on my list to catch in person. Luckily, I was able to see this one right outside the Bakery in a small garden they planted.
5. Find the Waddi Trees
The Waddi Tree (or Acacia Peuce) is a tree species that grows in central Australia. If you drive 12 kilometres north of town( on the way to Bedourie). It’s there you will come across a concentrated amount of these trees on your left.
They grow up to 15 to 18 metres in height and have needle-like leaves to help them survive in arid regions. Furthermore, it’s a very slow-growing species, the wood is extremely hard and can live up to 200 years old.
6. Visit the Burke and Wills Tree
The Burke and Wills Tree is located just outside of town and over the Diamantina River. You can access the tree from the main road or over the Diamantina Crossing road. It’s said to mark one of their final campsites before reaching Innamincka.
Note: that this is a replica tree, as the original sits on private property and is inaccessible.
7. Take a Scenic Flight
Looking for things to do in Birdsville, or maybe just an aerial view tour of the surrounding lands. There are a couple of Scenic Flights throughout the region, leaving from the small airport beside the hotel.
One of the more popular routes would be around The Big Red Sand Dune, especially at Sunset. Tours start at 25 minutes for the Diamantina Region, but you can fly to other places like Lake Eyre.
The two Airlines I can find providing these tours are Arid Air and Wrights Air, so best to check with them on their schedules and prices.
8. Admire the Royal Hotel Ruins
The Royal Hotel was built in 1883, one of three hotels at the time, and running for 40 years. The Australian Inland Mission leased the building from 1923 to 1937, to use as the Inland Mission Hospital.
In 1978, it’s was listed for restoration and preservation and stands like this today.
9. Take Local Tours
Maybe you don’t own a four-wheel-drive or own a vehicle that’s able to drive up the Big Red Sand Dune. Birdsville has you covered with Sunset tours that come with Snacks and Drinks on top of Big Red.
Even though we drove up to Big Red ourselves, it’s always nice to learn from the locals about the area and get first-hand knowledge. Our Guide Alex was fantastic and provided us a personalized experience and has to be one of the most superb things we have done in Outback Queensland.
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10. Visit the local Billabong
The billabong runs parallel to town and is a great spot for watching the sunset. Furthermore, you can also enjoy walking, paddleboarding, kayaking, swimming, or fishing. It’s an oasis for local Birdlife, and any avid photographer could spend some time down here.
11. Tourist Information Centre
This is your one-stop shop and everything you need on what to do in Birdsville. There is a huge area displaying local history, stories, and crafts. Along with maps, books, and pamphlets on everything there is to see and do.
Furthermore, you can book your tours, meet your guides or come and hang out for some free Wi-Fi!
12. Learn about the Artesian Bore Head & Cooling Ponds
Did you know this is the town’s water supply? It consists of an artesian bore and a river water reticulated system. Not only that, but the water is cooled through a series of cooling tubes.
The bore was drilled in 1961 and an average temperature of 97 to 99 degrees Celsius. Additionally, has a closed head pressure of 1200kPa and an unrestricted flow of 40 litres per second.
13. Eat a Camel Pie at the bakery
No visit to Birdsville will be complete without a stop at the local bakery and trying the famous camel pies. Apart from that, this is your go-to place for fresh coffees, pastries, bread, slices, and cakes.
It’s open for breakfast and lunch 6 days a week (not Monday) and home to lots of stories and memorabilia inside.
14. Add to the Tree of Shoes collection
About 30 kilometres from town and driving to Bedourie, you have the unusual “Shoe Tree”. This is a testament to Australian humour and has been added to by other tourists over the years.
15. Visit the Carcory Ruins
The Carcory homestead was built with Limestone in 1877 and abandoned by the owners after years of drought and losing 4000 bullocks. Today it serves as a reminder of early settlement and the significant difficulties that were faced.
16. Serpent Rock
Something to add to your list when your driving into town is the Dreamtime Serpent Rock!
This is a rather large indigenous Art instalment placed on a hill just outside of Betoota. There will be a sign for a rest area with toilets, and this display is straight across the road. Coming from Windorah or Betoota, it’s not as easy to see from the road.
17. Betoota Pub
Grab a pie, sausage roll, or stop in for a drink. The Betoota pub is a must-do stopover between Windorah and Birdsville. There is a broad range of items found inside and out, including the vintage car out the front.
Check out my experience of staying in town and all the Best things to do in Birdsville by watching my video HERE.
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Where is Birdsville Queensland
Birdsville is about 1500 kilometres from the Queensland capital, Brisbane in Australia. Getting to the Diamantina Shire is essentially sealed roads, and you will require a couple of stops along the way. Our latest return trip to Channel Country was taken over 10 days.
We stopped at places likes Charleville, Windorah, Quilpie, Charlotte Plains, and a day trip to Eromanga. Alternatively, other stops you might consider are Cunnamulla, Thargomindah, and St George. There are plenty of things to do and see at any of these locations to make it worthwhile!
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How to Get to Birdsville
Flights to Birdsville are aboard Regional Express Airways or REX for short. They only depart from Brisbane and take about 6 hours with 4 stopovers along the way ( Toowoomba, Charleville, Quilpie & Windorah). Yep, you get the milk run!
This journey will not run every day and is currently scheduled at:
- Monday & Thursday, Departing Brisbane to Birdsville
- Tuesdays and Fridays, Departing Birdsville to Brisbane
Prices seem to range from $250 to $600 per person, one way. The fluctuation is around different fare types or busy times. Additionally, The fare types can determine the baggage weight of 15 kilograms to 23 kilograms. This can work in your favour if you have another domestic REX fight out of Brisbane.
In the end, best to check on the Regional Express website for current times and prices available.
Let me tell you that I was expecting the roads from Brisbane to Birdsville to be challenging and rough. The truth is that up until the Development road, everything is now sealed. Don’t get me wrong, some of the roads are still a little run down. Furthermore, after Charleville, most are single lane and means you share the road ( or in the dirt) with oncoming traffic.
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From Windorah, you will drive about an hour west until you get to the left-hand turn into the Birdsville Development Road. Here you’ll find a toilet/Rest stop and information about the roads.
A few kilometres in, the roads will be dirt or gravel for the next 3 hours. Some of this can be corrugated, and conditions depend on the traffic and weather prior. The great thing is the roads are wide and make it easier for oncoming trucks.
TIP – Ensure you slow down for any traffic to stop stones breaking the glass windows on your car.
Lucky there was no camping for us this trip, and we decided on Outback Queensland accommodation at the Hotel. Ultimately, if you don’t have your own caravan, camper, or tent, there are only two places to stay at. The Birdsville Hotel and the cabin accommodation at the Caravan Park.
My biggest tip would be to book a month or two in advance at any time, as they are limited. The rooms come in a 3 sleep capacity with single beds or a Double/Single. Furthermore, they are relatively new, presented well, and contained the basic tea/coffee/Microwave/Aircon facilities.
Birdsville Caravan Park
If you look at the map further down, the town consists of only a few streets. Therefore, staying at the Caravan Park is still convenient to walk to the Hotel for Drinks and meals. You have Powered and Non-Powered sites, as well as Bathrooms, camp kitchen, laundry, and a Campfire area.
All this is located along the billabong, so you can use this for bird watching, paddle boarding, or drinks at sunset.
They have Motel Style Units & Cabins onsite, which look to be self-contained. Additionally, there is a lodging section beside the Hotel with a shared camp kitchen.
Right beside the Diamantina River is the Free Camping section. Open free for all if you have a self-sufficient camping set-up. Note this photo was taken during a low tourist period, and it can be crowded during event time.
It’s a first-come, first-serve basis if you’re relying on this type of accommodation. Therefore, make sure you come early for the Big Red Bash or the Races.
Choice for eating out are limited in town, but you will have everything you need from the spots below:
- Humpty Café
- Road house
The bakery is open for breakfast and lunch, as well as plenty of snacks throughout the day. While the Hotel caters to lunch and dinner. The Roadhouse is your one-stop-shop for groceries, fuel, souvenirs, hot snacks, and your mechanic.
Alternatively, the Humpty Café outside the Roadhouse is open for Lunch and Dinner.
It all started in September 1882 where stockmen came together from both Queensland and South Australia. Today, the Birdsville Races has around $200,000 in prize money and attracts over 6000 tourists each year.
The event runs over 13 days. However, the main draw cards will be on Friday and Saturday. The Birdsville Cup is the longest race at 1600metres, starting in a chute, and runs in a circumference of the 2000 metre track.
Due to the increased numbers, your accommodation will need to be booked well in advance.
Big Red Bash
In July of each year, Birdsville sets the record for an Aussie Icon Musical Festival. You’ll listen to three 3 nights of Australian Musical legends as they rock the Simpson Desert beside the Big Red Sand Dune.
This event is larger than the Races, with over 10,000 tourists flooding from all over Australia and the world. Therefore, it’s even more important to have your accommodation sorted, well ahead of time.
Clearly, from the Temperatures below, the winter months from April to September will be a more comfortable time to travel. However, this is when everyone will visit, and you will need to check the events for the busy times. Please note that the figures below are based on averages and can vary.
- January – 30 to 39 Degree’s (C), 12mm Rainfall over 4 days
- February – 28 to 37 Degree’s, 11mm Rainfall over 3 days
- March – 25 to 34 Degree’s (C), 32mm Rainfall over 4 days
- April – 21 to 30 Degree’s (C), 2mm Rainfall over 3 days
- May – 16 to 24 Degree’s (C), 5mm Rainfall over 2 days
- June – 12 to 20 Degree’s (C), 3mm Rainfall over 2 days
- July – 11 to 20 Degree’s (C), 3mm Rainfall over 2 days
- August – 13 to 23 Degree’s (C), 2mm Rainfall over 1 day
- September – 16 to 28 Degree’s (C), 8mm Rainfall over 2 days
- October – 22 to 33 Degree’s (C), 2mm Rainfall over 1 day
- November – 25 to 35 Degree’s (C), 13mm Rainfall over 3 days
- December – 29 to 38 Degree’s (C), 10mm Rainfall over 3 days
Map of Birdsville
Distance from Other Locations
- Brisbane – 1570klms, 17.5 hours
- Adelaide – 1172klms, 16 hours
- Emerald – 1111klms, 12 hours
- Mitchell – 1016, 11 hours
- Cunnamulla – 920klms, 10 hours
- Longreach – 694klms, 7.5 hours
- Eromanga – 593klms, 6.5 hours
- Charlotte Plains Station – 969klms, 11.5 hours
- Mt Isa – 685klms, 7.75 hours
- Winton – 739klms, 8.25 hours
- Charleville – 836klms, 9 hours
- Quilpie – 635klms, 7 hours
- Bedourie – 164klms, 2 hours
- Windorah – 379klms, 4.25 hours
Wrap up to the Best Things to do in Birdsville Queensland
Thanks for reading this blog post today on the Best Things to do in Birdsville, Queensland and I hope you found what you were looking for. Although is you’re still researching, please get more Outback Queensland insider Tips HERE for inpsiration.
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