Birdsville and the Birdsville Track, Queensland
On the very western edge of Queensland is Birdsville. The Birdsville population is 115, regarded as the quintessential Australian outback town, a tourist destination, though Oodnadatta, Marree, or Coober pedy for example may disagree.
Over 1587 km west of Queensland’s capital Brisbane, Birdsville is close to the border between Queensland, South Australia, and the Northern Territory, on the edge of the Simpson Desert . Because of the harsh climate, the area was only sparsely populated by Aboriginal people, with the Yarluyandi group living in the Birdsville area and the Wangkangurru people on the Simpson Desert .
For tourists and bodies such as events Queensland, Birdsville is the quintessential Australian outback town and with with right marketing the perfect investment a fantastic place complete with history to sustain the Birdsville economy and the outback dream complete with famous curried camel pies on the bakery menu, thanks to Dusty Miller and Dusty’s apprentice. A Birdsville base for a few days enables local guides engaged by Odyssey to show you Birdsville‘s sites, including the sand dune of the Simpson desert the one called “BIG RED”, the channel country and the Diamantina river, the local Aboriginal community and the remains of colonial settlement.
The first Europeans to pass through the area were likely the exploration party of Charles Sturt , after whom the Sturt Stony Desert to the south-east of the town is named. Sturt was unimpressed with what he found, describing the area as a ‘desperate region’ with ‘no parallel on earth’s surface’. 15 years later, Burke and Wills passed only a few kilometres from the present town on their journey to the Gulf of Carpentaria.
In the 1870s and 1880s, large cattle stations were established in the area. In order to cater to the squatters, Robert Frew, opened a store near a permanent lagoon on the river, known as the Diamantina Crossing, in what is today known as channel country, where there were already stores, two pubs, and a customs collection point on the Queensland/South Australia border. The town was gazetted as Diamantina Crossing in 1885, but was already known as Birdsville, thanks to the rich diversity of birdlife found in the area.
Today, Birdsville has entered the popular imagination as a byword for the Australian outback and is a tourist destinationfor the many. Ironically, through tourism it has begun to attract tourists from around the world, seeking out one of the most isolated towns on the earth and underpinning the Birdsville economy. Draws here for domestic visitors and international, include the heritage architecture, including two quintessential outback pubs, the Royal Hotel and the Birdsville Hotel; the late 19th century Birdsville Courthouse; and the Australian Inland Mission Hospital, used as an outpost for the Royal Flying Doctor Service and a iconic outback bakery. This Birdsville population knows how to create a tourist destination for the shire, high on domestic visitors and the international traveler bucket list, far away from Queensland’s capital.
Every September in peak tourist season for the Australian outback, Birdsville plays host to the annual Birdsville Races, known as ‘the Melbourne cup of the outback‘. The races were first held in 1882, but became hugely popular in the 1990s, race weekend will often attract up to 8000 visitors to the tiny town, pushing the Birdsville population to its limit and possibly selling out of the famous curried camel pies from the iconic outback bakery
Birdsville is also in close proximity to ‘The Burke and Wills Tree’, a Coolabah tree said to be among the explorers’ final campsites before their demise in the Strzelecki Desert.
The Birdsville Track:
One of the major draws of Birdsville during the tourist season for domestic visitors is the Birdsville Track, one of Australia’s great outback adventures. Passing 517 km to Marree in South Australia, it traverses some of the most arid and remote landscapes in Australia.
The route was developed in the 1880s as a shortcut for stockmen. In 1882, a drover called Tom Ford from Lake Nash station in the Northern Territory took 2000 cattle south-west from Birdsville. Covering 2000 kilometres and nine months, Ford successfully reached Marree, and blazed the Birdsville Track. Western Queensland property owners realised that moving cattle through channel country, and down the Birdsville Track to the end of the railway at Marree was a quicker way to reach coastal markets. This route was at least 1000 km shorter than the alternative path to Brisbane.
The road passes through three different deserts, the Sturt Stony Desert, the Strzelecki Desert, and the Tirari Desert. Over time, it rose to fame as one of Australia’s best 4WD routes and now attracts tourists from around the world.