Birdsville is Australia’s ‘must visit’ Outback town. Always noted for its wild country and isolation, Birdsville also offers today’s traveller a modern community with a sporting complex, gymnasium, two galleries, a bakery, air services, motel, hotel, caravan park and cabins, coffee shops and restaurants, general store, post office, medical clinic, fuel and auto services, and a police station.
Birdsville, between the sands of the Simpson Desert and the gibber plains of Sturt's Stony Desert is the starting point of the famous Birdsville Track, which stretches to the south with the Simpson Desert to the west.
Birdsville began life as 'Diamantina Crossing' in 1881 and was given its present name in 1885. It is said that one Robert Frew, a local identity, gave the name as a compliment to the birdlife of the area. Another theory on the town's name is that locals wanted to name it Burtsville after a popular settler named J. Burt. Burt declined the offer and the name Birdsville was used as a compromise. The Diamantina River, to the east of the town, was named in 1866 by explorer William Landsborough.
The town's original function was as a 'tariff wall' between Queensland and South Australia. Tolls which had provided the town's income, ceased in 1901 with the formation of the Federation and the town declined.
The town is now a starting point for many people travelling into South Australia along the Birdsville Track which was first developed in the 1880s as one of Australia's first major cattle routes. Stories of stockmen who passed through Birdsville on this famous track are part of town legend.
Birdsville is best known for its famous pub and the annual race meeting when the population grows from 120 to 6,000 in two days.
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