Time for outback adventure
NOTHING beats an Outback road trip through wide-open spaces, sweeping sand dunes and quirky towns.
Cruising across western Queensland is definitely something to put on the family's winter itinerary.
A good place to start from before heading west is Gladstone, about 550km north of Brisbane.
Setting off in the early morning, you can stop at The Dock at East Shores to fuel up with breakfast and look out across the water.
Gladstone is a large region, with a population of 64,000 people, and has a great balance of activities. It is possibly the last bigger community you might see for the next few days so be sure to stock up.
You can travel off the track a little and venture up to Kroombit Tops for a beautiful view of the region.
Wind your way through smaller towns and perhaps spend time at Cania Gorge.
There are waterholes, bush walks and plenty of nature to soak up.
There are many small towns along the way, which give a taste of what life is like in one of Australia's remote regions.
Along the road to Aramac there are characteristic and rustic sculptures beside the road. They are interesting talking points and great places to stop to take some photos.
Open plains and a brilliant blue sky are a great backdrop for some landscape family photos too.
Aramac has a population of 400 and is a great place for bird watching and has three bodies of water you could camp near or go on a walk around.
The Aramac Tramway Museum in Boundary St displays the rail motor dubbed "Aunt Emma” and the history of the Aramac to Barcaldine tramway that ran between 1913 and 1975 as an all-weather link with the main central western railway.
Home of the dinosaurs is in Muttaburra and Winton, with dinosaur fossils and tourist attractions dedicated to the findings.
Winton has many attractions and a rich history, with links to the Great Shearers' Strike and Waltzing Matilda.
But almost more well-known today is the link to the dinosaurs. The first prehistoric discovery in Winton Shire was made in 1962, on Cork Station - a fossilised footprint. This led to the discovery of the world's only recorded dinosaur stampede, known as the Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackways.
Later discoveries were the largest dinosaur skeleton found in Australia, a 20-30-tonne sauropod nicknamed "Elliot” - discovered on a property outside Winton in 1999 - and his friends, more sauropods of varying sizes and types.
Head west towards Boulia and call into Middleton Pub on the side of the road.
Middleton was made famous by the filming of Goldstone, a film written, directed and composed by Queensland film maker Ivan Sen (Beneath the Clouds, Yellow Fella, Mystery Road) and produced by David Jowsey (Mystery Road, Toomelah) and Greer Simpkin (executive producer The Code, The Secret River).
A small tin shack is still erected where the lead character resided. You can view the home and the surrounds on your way through to Boulia.
There, if you visit at the right time, you can witness the Boulia camel races.
The small town of 234 residents comes alive one weekend in July every year when they host the "Melbourne Cup of camel racing”.
In the two-day event, camels compete in the 400m and 1000m heats to attempt to make it into the 1500m longest camel race in Australia.
There is also hilarious track-side entertainment with the camel-tagging competition, which means competitors enter an arena with a young camel and the objective is to get close enough to stick a tag on it in the fastest time.
The most adventurous travellers may get a mouthful of dust watching the 800kg boats of the desert lumber down the race track.
But it is a highlight of a road trip across western Queensland.
Large open spaces, including national parks, historical sites, bush walks and fishing, will give you a wide choice to explore and experience the great outdoors.
Check out www.bouliacamelraces.com.au or www.outbackqueensland.com.au.
The writer was a guest of the Road Boss Rally.