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Matilda Way

Multiple Locations

The Matilda Way is one road that most definitely leads to adventure, and a different one each day. The fully sealed 1812 kilometre highway stretches from the New South Wales border all the way to the Gulf of Carpentaria, from Cunnamulla to Karumba. Traversing the 'real outback' the route is filled with friendly local characters, unique attractions and unspoiled natural sites.

Four days is a comfortable drive, depending on how long you spend discovering the unique charms of each township. Along the Matilda Way you will discover little known secrets, experience the raw history of the region and natural wonders of the vast and ancient landscapes. As you're travelling, check the byways along the route; there are plenty of side-trips that add to the overall outback experience.

Just remember you are sharing the road with huge road trains, livestock and native animals, take care and give way, you'll protect your vehicle and the truckies will thank you for it.

Come and enjoy experiencing the Outback along the Matilda Way.

Journey Details

Duration
96 Hours
Distance
1812 Kilometres

Activities

  • Birdwatching
  • Camping

Other Information

Family Friendly:

Family friendly – please refer to operator's website for services and facilities.

Full Itinerary

Barringun to Cunnamulla

Goodbye New South Wales, hello Queensland! With a population of just four, don't expect a tumultuous reception in Barringun. The once-thriving New South Wales border town was so alive that there were two police stations; one on the southern side of the border and the other, with Queensland constabulary, just a stone's throw away.

The Tattersall's Hotel is one of the few original buildings still standing. Fuel is available in the township, along with refreshments and meals at the hotel.

The next major settlement is Cunnamulla, 119 kilometres to the north. Just south of Cunnamulla check out the dwarf-like red sand dunes adorned with pines. If the winter rainfalls are sufficient, have the camera at the ready for a landscape ablaze with wildflowers.

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Route Details

Route Type
One Way
Level of Difficulty
Level 1: Suitable for the disabled with assistance
Mode of Travel
Car
Cunnamulla to Charleville

Cunnamulla is a community who invites you to come along and uncover all the hidden gems on offer. Be immersed in the local culture and history as you explore the heritage trail or visit one of the three station stays in the region.

Visit the Cunnamulla Fella Centres Artesian Time Tunnel and learn a little about the Great Artesian Basin, an underground water table that sustains life in some of Australia’s harshest environments.

If nature is your thing take a walk along the Warrego river walk, stroll around the Cunnamulla Bushlands or spend some time discovering some of the 207 bird species at ‘Bowra Sanctuary’.

A side trip west along the Bulloo Development Road to the quaint town of Eulo comes highly recommended and then continue North along the Opal Byway and discover Yowah, an opal mining town with plenty to offer.

When done, head back to the Matilda Way and head for Wyandra, 97 kilometres to the north of Cunnamulla. The highway follows the route of the railway and it's the railway system that actually dictated where towns would be created. Wyandra was once a major water stop for steam engines that hauled wool and sheep to the marketplace.

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Route Details

Route Type
One Way
Level of Difficulty
Level 2: Suitable for families with young children
Mode of Travel
Car
Charleville to Blackall

Charleville is a town that is worth some serious attention. It has a history featuring early cameleers, Cobb & Co., Qantas and the USAAF . It has one of Queensland's largest schools of the air and is a major home base for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, servicing towns as far away as Birdsville in the state's far south-west. Experience the amazing Cosmos Centre, a small observatory that introduces you to the world beyond.

Head north to Augathella or detour through to Quilpie and the Natural Sciences Loop. The Augathella pub is the central social hub and a good place to hear about the exploits of the infamous local bushrangers, the Kenniffs. Home to Australia’s Huckleberry Finn – Smiley? you can find out the history behind this while in town.

Tambo is 119 kilometres further north and is home to the famous Tambo Teddies, established during the years of low wool prices but still going strong and producing teddies adored by children everywhere.

A side trip recommended for four-wheel-drive enthusiasts loops out via the Wilderness Way to Salvator Rosa National Park. If time is short, settle for a stroll along the banks of the Barcoo and do the Coolabah Walk.

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Route Details

Route Type
One Way
Level of Difficulty
Level 2: Suitable for families with young children
Mode of Travel
Car
Blackall to Barcaldine

Roughly 100 kilometres north of Tambo you'll arrive at the 'home of the original black stump'. Heed not what other states claim, as locals descended from early identities such as Jackie Howe steadfastly stick to the belief that the stump located in Thistle St is the genuine article.

In 1892 Jackie set a world record by shearing 321 sheep in seven hours and 40 minutes. He held that record for 58 years and when it was finally broken it was only by a shearer using machine shears, which were unheard of in Jackie's era.

It's here that you will again greet the Barcoo River, which flows close to the town. Keep count of how many times you cross the Barcoo on this trip, as local legend has it that after the tenth crossing you're there to stay.

A major attraction, the Historic Blackall Woolscour is living history and a direct physical link to Australia’s pioneering era. Open all year, the massive steam engine is operated between May and September. Blackall was supposed to have the first artesian bore in the central west, only to be beaten to the punch by Barcaldine, just 109 kilometres further along the Matilda Way.

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Route Details

Route Type
One Way
Level of Difficulty
Level 2: Suitable for families with young children
Mode of Travel
Car
Barcaldine to Longreach

Barcaldine is an attractive town steeped in history and culture with plenty to see and do - an overnight stay is recommended.
The best place to begin is the Visitor Information Centre in The Globe where the friendly staff will tell you all about the town. You can also visit the Family History Room and the Art Gallery which are located in the building.

On Oak Street, the famous Tree of Knowledge celebrates Barcaldine’s fighting spirit and connections to Australia’s labour movement. The monument has a cathedral feel and is particularly beautiful at night when lit by special lighting.
Packed with local history, the Australian Workers Heritage Centre is well worth a visit.

If you're travelling between Barcaldine and Ilfracombe during August to September, spectacular wildflowers (in season) are a must see and the many species of birds will appeal to bird watchers.

In Ilfracombe, old tractors, disused farm equipment and historic rural machinery have been neatly laid out, forming an open-air museum known as 'machinery mile'.

Wander around town and visit the Wellshot hotel, take a dip in the artesian spa, the corrugated iron Langenbaker Cottage and Post Office, which claims to have been Australia's first motorised mail service.

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Route Details

Route Type
One Way
Level of Difficulty
Mode of Travel
Car
Longreach to Winton

The bustling town of Longreach came into prominence for visitors in 1988 when the Queen opened the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame. This modern centre is world famous and warrants much more than just a casual glance. The entire history, adventure and essence of the Australian outback is rolled into one huge, diverse and informative display.

Adding life to this western Queensland town are a number of other first-class attractions, namely the Qantas Founders Museum, with its own decommissioned Boeing 747 Jet as its centrepiece. The School of Distance Education offers tours of its facility, which provides an education to students within a 1000 kilometre or more radius via satellite internet. The Longreach Pastoral College, the Longreach Power House Museum and the Longreach Arts and Cultural Centre, in the old Ambulance Station, where locals display their arts and crafts, are also worth a visit.

Various companies offer regular sunset cruises on the Thomson River, some in historic paddle steamers, with campfire meals and bush poetry thrown in. Hop aboard a Cobb and Co. coach for a tour of the town or head out to a real working sheep and cattle property to get a glimpse into life on the land.

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Route Details

Route Type
One Way
Level of Difficulty
Level 2: Suitable for families with young children
Mode of Travel
Car
Winton to Kynuna

The big skies and wide open spaces around Winton have excited and inspired visitors for years. Banjo Paterson wrote Waltzing Matilda in the neighbourhood back in 1895. The song was performed in public for the first time at Winton’s historic North Gregory Hotel and now it is sung wherever Australian’s gather to celebrate. The new Waltzing Matilda Centre, dedicated to the memory of Waltzing Matilda, will open with a gala event early 2018.

Winton is the Dinosaur Capital of Australia and hosts two major dinosaur attractions, the Australian Age of Dinosaurs and the Dinosaur Stampede at Lark Quarry Conservation Park. Both museums offer guided tours and a real dinosaur experiences.

Film-makers love the dramatic landscape close to Winton. So many feature films have been produced here the town now hosts a mid-year film festival at the historic open-air Royal Theatre.

Qantas was born in Winton when the first general meeting of the airline was held at the Winton Club.

Winton’s Musical Fence inspired singer/songwriter Gotye to write the songs on his debut album that went on to win three Grammy Awards.

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Route Details

Route Type
One Way
Level of Difficulty
Mode of Travel
Car
Cloncurry to Normanton

Cloncurry is an interesting outback town and definitely deserves extended time for exploration. Mining has played a key role in the development and growth of the town and a bloke called Ernest Henry is responsible for its very existence. In 1867 he discovered copper and even today copper mining remains a major player in the growth of Cloncurry.

A visit to John Flynn Place Museum and Art Gallery will provide a history lesson or two. Commemorating Reverend John Flynn who developed the Royal Flying Doctor service as a ‘mantle of safety’ back in 1928. Covering isolated regions the service is still as integral to the outback's survival today as it ever was.

While there a must-stop is Cloncurry Unearthed, Visitor Information Centre and Museum. See the water bottle of explorer Robert O’Hara Bourke or learn more about Mary Kathleen (a former Uranium mining town) or wander through the museums’ mineral and gem collection, which is ranked as one of the most comprehensive in Australia.

Continuing on to Normanton, the vista changes and you'll see taller and taller termite mounds, which is a sure sign you've reached north-west Queensland.

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Route Details

Route Type
One Way
Level of Difficulty
Mode of Travel
Car
Normanton to Karumba

It's a good stretch of road extending the 71 kilometres to Karumba, a town right on the Gulf of Carpentaria. Although it seems to take the longest of any previously travelled section of the highway, it's all to do with the excitement of finally reaching the 'end of the road' and the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Its very location makes Karumba an excellent place to get a 'feed' of fresh seafood including excellent prawns, for which the town is noted. Visit one of the many vibrant bars at night and you're sure to run into somebody from the prawn trawling fleet. Speaking of bars, music buffs may know the Red Hot Chill Peppers' song 'Animal Bar', from the album Stadium Arcadium, which is written about Karumba and named after one of the town's bars.

Around Karumba it's relatively flat country, but it's the birdlife that excites. Saurus cranes, similar to a brolga, are in abundance. If you're in Karumba in September or October, keep an eye out for the 'morning glory' a unique cloud formation that sometimes forms in the early morning.

Congratulations for making the full length of the Matilda Highway.

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Route Details

Route Type
One Way
Level of Difficulty
Mode of Travel
Car
McKinlay to Cloncurry

Cloncurry is 348 kilometres on from Winton, but a side trip to discover the Combo Waterhole just south of Kynuna is well worth the trip. The waterhole Banjo Paterson drew inspiration from for the national folk song Waltzing Matilda. Walk the 2.5 kilometre return circuit to the billabong along the Diamantina River and have a picnic "under the shade of a Coolibah tree".

Head on into Kynuna to a different kind of watering hole, the Blue Heeler Hotel. The pub is the only remaining building to have any association with the great Australian folk song, Waltzing Matilda. It is said that both the swagman and squatter had their last drinks at the hotel. Banjo Paterson also drank at the hotel. Come in for a cold beer and meet the locals!

Hitting the road again, it is a short trip to Mckinlay where you can test another watering hole, the Walkabout Creek Hotel, the pub made famous by Paul Hogan in his movie "Crocodile Dundee". The pub, together with other buildings in the town were featured in this iconic Australian film.
Another hours travelling will take you through undulating and open downs country to the town of Cloncurry.

Route Details

Route Type
Level of Difficulty
Mode of Travel
Bicycle, Bus, Car, Caravan, Coach, Four Wheel Drive, Minibus, Motorcycle

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Henderson Park Farm Retreat

Rockhampton, Rockhampton Area
  • Free WiFi
From AU$165 - 225
Henderson Park, a fifth generation family run working cattle property, is uniquely positioned just 10 minutes off the East Coast Highway and 30 minutes north of Rockhampton, Central Queensland. Join an educational property tour, simply unwind or take a break from travelling.

Sunlover Lodge Holiday Units and Cabins

Capricorn Coast, Livingstone Area
From AU$90 - 130
Sunlover Lodge Holiday Units and Cabins have got something different, real peace and quiet! Sunlover Lodge is designed for complete relaxation. People seek them out because they are so quiet, set off the main highway, close to the beach in over an acre of lush, tropical award-winning gardens and only a short walk to lovely Kinka Beach.

Rosslyn Bay Resort and Spa

Capricorn Coast, Livingstone Area
  • Free WiFi
From AU$135 - 230
Rosslyn Bay Resort is your complete holiday and function destination. Situated on the shores of Kemp Beach, they offer unprecedented access to Great Keppel Island and the realms of the Southern Great Barrier Reef through Keppel Bay Marina.

Kilcowera Station

Thargomindah, Bulloo Area
From AU$25 - 45
Kilcowera Station is situated between Thargomindah and Hungerford, half way along the Dowling Track, in South West Queensland. Travellers by air or road are now able to visit the 94,000 hectare property and enjoy the rangelands, lagoons, creeks, waterholes, gorges, caves and wildlife.

Gee-Dees Family Cabins

Karumba, Carpentaria Area
  • Free WiFi
From AU$115 - 150
Gee-Dee's Family Cabins at Karumba Point offer affordable family-style, couple or fisherperson accommodation on the Gulf of Carpentaria at the mouth of the Norman River. Your stay will be in family owned and operated, motel-like cabins, or a three bedroom holiday house, that offers you the latest in modern, clean, air conditioned rooms.

Blackall Caravan Park

Blackall, Blackall-Tambo Area
  • Free WiFi
From AU$27 - 160
The Blackall Caravan Park offers powered and unpowered sites, fully self-contained cabins and units. There are two amenity blocks, a laundry, dump point, pets are welcome, free wi-fi and drive through shady grass/slab sites.

Cobb & Co Caravan Park

Charleville, Murweh Area
  • Free WiFi
From AU$30 - 90
Cobb & Co Caravan Park is a friendly, clean, peaceful and quiet caravan park in a bushland setting. The park has acres of camping space and drive through sites, and is in walking distance to the town centre of Charleville.

Discovery Parks Argylla, Mount Isa

Mount Isa, Mount Isa Area
  • Free WiFi
  • Deals
From AU$25 - 149
Mining is at the heart of Mount Isa – this is one of the top 10 producers of copper, silver, lead and zinc. Their caravan park accommodation at Discovery Parks – Argylla, just over one hour’s drive from Cloncurry, is a great place to relax after your day of adventures.

Riverside Tourist Park

North Rockhampton, Rockhampton Area
  • Free WiFi
From AU$29 - 120
Riverside Tourist Park is set on five acres right on the Fitzroy River, with only a short walk into the heart of the city and the bowls club next door. They offer a variety of accommodation levels which include self contained cabins, onsite vans and powered and unpowered sites.

Discovery Parks Rockhampton

North Rockhampton, Rockhampton Area
From AU$35 - 220
Discovery Holiday Parks, Rockhampton is a quality property situated in North Rockhampton and covers an area of 10 acres with beautifully landscaped gardens. They offer a large variety of self-contained cabins and villas to suit every budget and need from individuals, families to larger sporting groups.
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Note: Information on listed products and services are provided by the operator and were correct at the time of publishing. Rates are indicative based on the minimum and maximum available prices of products and services. Please visit the operator’s website for further information. All prices quoted are in Australian dollars (AUD).