What better way to experience the wilderness and vibrant culture of Central Queensland than on a road trip?
Going on a road trip is one of the best ways to explore an area when travelling, especially for those who are hungry for adventure. It’s also ideal for those who travel with family or a large cohort - making the adventure not only fun, but also cost-effective.
With well-maintained roads and epic scenery ahead, Central Queensland makes for one of the most amazing places to discover. Flourished with many pleasantly surprising destinations to be explored, your journey only begins here.
Check out the destinations below in the Outback Central Queensland which must be included on your road trip map.
Rockhampton is a good start for a road trip along Capricorn Highway. As the beef capital of Australia, Rockhampton has been blessed with a long history of beefness.
As you make your way into Rockhampton, greeting be upon you by a few friendly Bull Statutes dotted throughout the town. If you’d like to learn more about beef history, drop by the Central Queensland Livestock Exchange to learn more about the cattle facility such as breeding techniques, well-regulated production and auction.
Given that you are in beef county, make it a point to not miss the experience and take on a good plate of juicy and tender steak. It’s really not hard to find a good steakhouse to satisfy your palate.
For those looking to start on an Outback road trip, Rockhampton is ideal with plenty of options such as George (William Street) and Mavericks Western Wear (Canning Street) to deck you out in your cowboy attire.
After exploring Rockhampton, rejoin the Capricorn Highway. In slightly more than an hour drive, you will arrive at Duaringa, one of the oldest townships in the region.
Make a move to the eastern side of the town to Mackenzie Park where you can appreciate the rare, endemic, ominous-looking Duaringa Stringy Bark known as “Budgeroo” trees. These fascinating trees are a cultural significance to the aboriginal communities who used it to make ropes and baskets.
Soak up your experience and lay out a mat under the Budgeroo trees. Set yourself a nice, relaxing picnic accompanied by the soothing splashes of the waterfall in the lagoon. Mackenzie Park is also equipped with the facilities of hot showers and camping areas with barbecues for those looking to cook up a storm.
If you’d like to find out more about your tourist options, drop by the Duaringa Tourist Information Centre to get your hands on some local history pamphlets and maps.
As you dive deeper into Central Queensland, you will arrive at the tranquil town of Emerald, the gateway to the Sapphire Gemfields.
Plan to spend more than a day at this sapphire town, especially those who have an affinity for gemstones. After all, when you are in the richest sapphire field in the Southern Hemisphere, the must do activity here is visiting the gem fields themselves.
The Sapphire Gemfields was first discovered in 1875, and you can learn more about the gems from the underground mine tours and digging tours. For those who like collecting souvenirs, you can try your luck fossicking. Alternatively, pay a visit to any local sapphire shops and purchase some rare gems for the win.
To rejuvenate after the activities, a stop by the local Maraboon Tavern located at the heart of the Emerald town is a must. When here, soak up the relaxing atmosphere and treat yourself to one of their famous mouth-watering smoked meat (with a local twist) before washing it down with a glass of icy cold beer.
Once you’re done, head towards Lake Maraboon for the rest of your day. A perfect place to unwind, enjoy the warmth of the sun and go for a swim! For adventure lovers, Lake Maraboon can be explored on a rental kayak or waterski too.
Before you leave the lovely town of Emerald, make it a point to check out the largest production of Van Gogh’s Sunflower Painting at the Emerald’s Morton Park. This spectacle holds tribute to Emerald’s history as the town was once a huge sunflower producer.
Also, you will be surprised to learn that the Emerald Railway Station is currently enlisted by the National Trust as a national heritage. This is thanks to its historical significance as the original exterior of the building is still very well maintained like it was first built in 1900.
Now that you have ticked Emerald off your list, it's time to enter Alpha. Also known as “Town of Murals”, Alpha is brightened up by 28 murals scattered around, all of which were painted by local artists to pay tribute to the pioneers of the bush.
You will not miss the “Fossilised Forest of Alpha” sculpture located in Shakespeare Street. The mural represents a boulder that has been opened to reveal the inner treasure within while the exterior reflects the prehistoric area of petrified wood forming.
The sculpture is unique as it is made from a range of natural resources such as helidon freestone, local petrified wood and imperial black granite from South Australia. A true magnificence that will leave every traveller in awe.
On the crossroads of Matilda and Capricorn Highways is Barcaldine, or known to the locals as Barcy.
An interesting fact about this little town is that every street in it is named after a tree - Acacia St, Maple St, Pine St and more. This tree-lined town looks lush all year round, and one of the biggest attractions in Barcy is the Tree of Knowledge.
The Tree is best known as the birthplace of the Labour Party. After it was poisoned in 2006, the government, recognising its significant historical value, entrusted professionals to build a permanent memorial for the Tree. This effort lead to the subsequent replacement by the preserved remains of the Tree. When night falls, phosphorescent paint illuminates the Tree in bright green and purple making it breathtakingly unworldly.
For those looking to soak up the true Outback spirit, Lara Wetlands, located 28 kilometres south of Barcaldine, makes for an ideal day trip.
Explore the wetlands by canoe or kayak, or simply dip into the therapeutic natural artesian pool surrounded by raw nature. With an abundance of wildlife, be prepared to be stunned by the beautiful sunset as the sun slowly sinks into the horizon.
If you decide to stay on longer, Lara Wetlands offers campgrounds equipped with amenities where visitors can have their own campfires under the starry night.