Follow the Burke and Wills trail from Birdsville to Innamincka and discover the final point of their ill-fated exploration trek. Cruise the Cooper Creek, swim in the Birdsville Billabong and stand atop Big Red sandhill at the start of the Simpson Desert. We recommend you travel in a high clearance 4WD vehicle for this journey.
On arrival into Birdsville, call into the Wirrarri Information Centre and have a look around at their displays of souvenirs, local art, photo gallery and regional history. Grab a town map and book your Big Red Sunset Tour with Desert Edge Tours.
Day 1: Birdsville
At the end of the famous Birdsville Track is the frontier town of Birdsville. Deep in the heart of wild and isolated country, Birdsville is situated between the eastern edge of the Simpson Desert, the vast gibber plains of Sturt’s Stony Desert to the south and rich Channel Country to the north. Call in to the Wirrarri Visitor Information Centre for information on local road conditions, weather and travelling tips. You can also view local artists’ work in their extensive gallery. Local attractions include Big Red sand hill on the edge of the Simpson Desert, “Two Boys Dreaming” Aboriginal site, the Birdsville Billabong, Birdsville Racetrack and the famous Birdsville Hotel. For a great pie and some tall stories, the Birdsville Bakery is a must do.
Day 2: Birdsville to Innamincka approx. 417kms / 6hrs
Follow the Burke and Will’s trail east on the Birdsville Developmental Road for 117kms before turning south on the Cordillo Downs track to drive 299kms to Innamincka. En route, see Cadelga Ruins and discover the hardships encountered by pastoralists from isolation and drought during the 1870s. Visit the heritage-listed Cordillo Downs shearing shed – Australia’s largest – where a record 85,000 sheep were sheared in the 1880s. En route to Innamincka, visit the site of Burke and Wills’ Depot Camp and see the iconic 200-250 year old Burke and Wills Dig Tree, a reminder of Australia’s pioneering spirit. Burke’s grave is also located nearby.
Innamincka is located on the banks of the Cooper Creek in north-east South Australia and has a permanent population of about 12-15 people. It is a fascinating area rich in natural, Indigenous, pastoral and explorer history. The Innamincka Regional Reserve spans a total of 1.3 million hectares and is home to 200 species of birds, many native animals and reptiles. Explore the restored Australian Inland Mission building and spot local wildlife. Take a cruise on the Cooper Creek from Innamincka to see Wills’ grave, Burke’s grave, and King’s Marker where sole survivor of the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition, John King, was found.
Day 3: Innamincka to Birdsville via Walkers Crossing approx. 398kms / 5hrs
Return to Birdsville via Walkers Crossing - an alternative 4WD track accessible during dry periods. Check on the variable road conditions and route map before departure. See King’s Marker, the site where the sole survirver of the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition was found. The track traverses the flood plain area of Cooper Creek and leads onto the famous Birdsville Track, at the northern end of the Sturt Stony Desert, for approximately 100kms drive to Birdsville. The Birdsville Track was originally a 517km cattle track that is now a popular tourist route. The Page Family Grave is a sobering reminder to respect the environment. Drive past the airstrip and old Bronco branding yards at Pandie Pandie Station, and put a foot in each state at the Border Fences before arriving back in Birdsville.