Travelling In The Outback

Organised Tours visiting the Outback

Few outback cattle stations are open to public visitors however AgTour runs unique organised tours that visit some of the largest Australian cattle stations. They also run overseas farm tours, in particular to Canada, North and South America, Africa and New Zealand. (A visit to the website always makes my feet itch.)

If you are interested in a unique tour of the remotest, most sparsely settled regions of Australia then I’d recommend a camel trip with Paddy McHugh. While I haven’t (yet) been on a trip with Paddy I know he is a character and I’ve seen the photographs of people having a great time. I’m certain one of his camel trips would be a trip to remember for a lifetime.

Employment in the Bush

People of any age may be able to find employment in remote areas if they have in-demand skills, and sometimes voluntary jobs can lead to paid employment. And if you really want to learn about a place, the only way to do it is live in it and work in it. Refer to ‘Outback Jobs’ for more information.  The best way to get to know what cattle station life is like is to work on one.

Recommended Events

Social/tourism events

The Federal Government and Queensland Tourism Commission websites contain maps, regional and event information.

If you are keen on authentic social gatherings such as rodeos, campdrafts and race meetings then head further out to little places off the beaten track, and try to get there during the quietest time of year. This will mean being there during hotter weather however if you prefer getting to know the locals better, you will find it worth the effort.

Agricultural/industry gatherings

Rural newspapers are good sources of event listings as are rural websites such as Farmers Info and Infarmation.

Numerous annual Field Days are held in large towns – mainly in farming areas. The Beef Australia Expositionis a recommended week-long industry and social gathering held in late April/early May every 3 years in Rockhampton, Central Queensland. Cattle industry people attend from all over Australia as well as overseas.

Recommended Places for Farmers to Visit:

Far south western Queensland (the Channel Country) and the Kimberleys are two of my favourite destinations – and the two places that I recommend farmers put at the top of the list of places to visit.  The Ord River Irrigation District must have had so many visiting southern farmers seeking information and a look, that there are now organised farm tours – especially for farmers.  In other words, tours for those familiar with farming who want facts, figures and solid information, not just a wafty drive through the countryside to a winery or tropical fruit orchard.

Other sources of information:

Many local councils have developed good websites however some are far too flashy and tourist dollar-digging for my liking. I prefer realism and character and more ‘what’s in it for everyone’ than sheer self interest.

The best I’ve seen yet is the Burke Shire Council. Burketown is located on the edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the shire’s website contains excellent information on a wide variety of subjects such as the Morning Glory cloud formations, station life and settlement history and explorers (including Burke and Wills, Ludwig Leichardt and Augustus Gregory).

It’s a great example of a unique website produced by a very small community. With a handful of motivated and imaginative people, the professionalism of small communities can put large ones (with huge budgets and tons of resources) to shame.

The Outback Loophas a good calendar of events for the remote towns of Arkaroola and Innamincka (north-eastern South Australian) and Birdsville (south-western Queensland).

The ABC Race Clubhas information on the Brunette Races, bronco branding and horsesports.

The unique coffee-table style books ‘ A Million Acre Masterpiece’ and ‘Life as an Australian Horseman’  are exceptionally good value, with nearly 500 fascinating photos of many of Australia’s most remote but most famous outback cattle stations. A great way to view the landscape across northern Australia before leaving home – or to remind you of what you travelled through, when you get back.