Explore the isolated frontier town of Birdsville and discover inspiring stories of early pastoralists and Aboriginal people. Visit the ghost town of Betoota, where the population swells from 0 to 2000 over two annual events.
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
Go back in time:
Begin your day with a morning walk around town. Wander down the main street to explore the Royal Hotel ruins. Built in 1883, as Birdsville’s second hotel, it later became the first hospital in town. Nowadays it is privately owned and listed with the National Trust. Next you may visit the Australian Inland Mission Hospital for an insight into how medical services were delivered in the early 1900s.
Follow the Diamantina River Trail:
Head down to the Diamantina River Bridge and take in the local birdlife, before wandering over to the Bourke & Wills slashed tree for a look. Not too far from there is the Old Diamantina Crossing, an ideal spot for a picnic or ‘smoko’. You may also like to take a drive out to the famous Birdsville Race Track, just a couple of kilometres down the road.
Learn an Aboriginal Dreamtime story:
Driving back into town, stop at the Two Boys Dreaming site. Stroll down the short walking trail and read about the fascinating Aboriginal Dreamtime story of “Two Boys Dreaming”.
Time to have a Lunch break:
Head over to the licenced Birdsville Bakery and try one of their specialty Curried Camel pies. Spend some time viewing the quirky historical pieces and photographs hanging on the walls.
Relax at Pelican Point:
Wind down and relax for a while across the Birdsville Billabong. Pelican Point is the perfect place to do this as it offers seating under shade with scenic water front views and ample bird watching.
See the Aboriginal Meeting Place:
Relax at the Aboriginal Meeting Place, another of the 3 sculptures in the Shire designed by members of the native Wangkangurru/ Yarluyandi tribe.
Listen to the Aboriginal Cultural Talk:
Head into the Wirrarri Information Centre and meet an Aboriginal elder of the Wangkangurru/ Yarluyandi tribe, who will share their stories.
Escape to the sunset on Big Red:
For a perfect way to end a day in Birdsville, book a Big Red Sand Dune tour with local operator, Desert Edge Tours. Board the 4WD coach for a short drive out to Big Red on the edge of the Simpson Desert. Following an exhilarating drive to the top of Big Red, you’ll be served drinks and nibbles whilst witnessing an amazing desert sunset – a night to remember for sure..
DAY 2: Birdsville to Betoota approx. 170kms / 3hrs
Marvel at the Dreamtime Serpent:
Wake to another memorable desert sunrise then prepare for your three-hour drive to Betoota. See the amazing Dreamtime Serpent, one of three sculptures in the Diamantina Shire designed by members of the native Wangkangurru/ Yarluyandi tribe. The Dreamtime Serpent is a work of art representing a series of pathways travelled through Country to connect the river systems in the Channel Country of the Diamantina Shire. See the creative application of locally sourced gravel and gibbers in this hillside artwork.
Sit atop Deon’s Lookout:
Relax at the elevated Deon’s Lookout and enjoy the expansive 360 degree views. With a dedicated rest area, picnic table and toilets, this is the perfect spot to stop for a bit of morning smoko or lunch
Dream about the beer at this pub:
Head back to the ghost town of Betoota and explore the once lively Betoota Hotel, standing very lonely on a vast gibber plain. Betoota, was originally set up as a customs post to collect tolls for stock as they travelled to South Australia. It was also a Cobb & Co change station. Tonight, sleep under the stars after setting up camp in the popular Browns Creek camping area.
Overnight Betoota – Browns Creek camping.
DAY 3: Betoota to Birdsville approx. 170kms / 3hrs
Return to Birdsville:
After a relaxed desert breakfast and perhaps some critter hunting, travel the three hour drive back to Birdsville to learn more about the locals, their stories and their way of life.
Step back in time: Visit the Birdsville Court House, an important link with the early pastoral settlement and Birdsville’s pre-Federation role as a border post. The building is one of only three surviving masonry buildings in Birdsville.
Power up at the Geothermal Power Station:
Discover where approximately 25% of Birdsville’s power is generated at the Geothermal Power Station, the only one in Australia. Just around the bend from the power station is the Artesian Bore Head and Outlet which powers the Geothermal Power Station.
Marvel at the Waddi Trees:
Take the short 14km drive to the rare and ancient Waddi Trees, considered to be 500-1000 years old, and one of only three such groups of Waddi Trees left in Australia.
Watch a local film:
The Wirrarri Information Centre plays the “Diamantina Spirit”, a 55 minute film on the way of life in the remote & isolated Diamantina, which includes interviews with locals.
Grab a fishing rod:
Try your luck and throw in a line to see if you can catch a Yellow Belly or Black Brim in the Birdsville Billabong.
Enjoy a ‘coldie’:
Order a drink and take a look around Birdsville Hotel’s Dining Room, Lizard Bar and Public Bar at the paraphernalia, photos and history displayed throughout.