Birdsville is a tiny town at the northern end of the Birdsville Track, a major cattle route developed in the 1880s. By 1900 the town was flourishing, boasting three hotels, several stores, a customs office and a cordial factory. With the abolition of interstate tolls after Federation, the town's prosperity slowly declined. Although much smaller now, it remains an essential supply centre for local pastoralists and travellers to outback Queensland, including 4WD enthusiasts keen to take on the Birdsville Track and the Simpson Desert. Birdsville is in the Channel Country, named after the prolific river systems of the Diamantina and Georgina rivers, and the Cooper and Eyre creeks that come together as one massive wetland after the rains.
Wirrarri Visitor Information Centre, 29 Burt St; (07) 4656 3300.
Nearby national parks
Museum: housed in 6 buildings, the museum showcases an array of old relics from tools to pottery and farming equipment. Join proprietor John Menzies for a tour and demonstration in harness making and coach building; tours daily at 9am, 11am and 3pm; Waddie Dr.
Blue Poles Gallery: art by local painter Wolfgang John. Cafe on-site; Graham St.
Artesian bore: water comes out at near boiling point from this 1219 m deep bore; behind the bore is a geothermal power plant; Graham St.
Adelaide Street: ruins of Royal Hotel (1883), a reminder of Birdsville's boom days; Birdsville Hotel (1884), still an important overnight stop for travellers; cemetery, housing the grave sites of early pioneers.
Simpson Desert National Park West of Birdsville, this arid national park is the largest in Queensland. The parallel windblown sand dunes are enormous – up to 90 m high, about 1 km apart, and can extend up to 200 km. A self-guide drive includes 10 sites, starting at the eastern park boundary and following the track to Poeppel's Corner. Walking any distance is not recommended and a 4WD is essential. Visit only between Apr and Oct, see note below; (07) 4656 3249; 65 km W.
Waddi Trees and Dingo Cave Lookout: 14 km N.
Big Red: huge sand dune; 35 km W.
Bedourie: Eyre Creek runs through town providing waterholes that are home to the endangered bilby and peregrine falcons; 191 km N.
Travellers note: Travel in this area can be hazardous, especially in the hotter months (approximately Oct–Mar). Motorists are advised to check the RACQ Road Conditions Report on 1300 130 595 (or www.racq.com.au) for information before departing down the Birdsville Track and to advise police if heading west to Simpson Desert National Park. There is no hotel or fuel at Betoota, 164 km E, but fuel is available at Windorah, 375 km E.
Campsites around town
Tippipila Creek camping area 126 kmCamp on the Birdsville side of this tree-lined creek, 336 km north of Marree and 180 km south of Birdsville, on the Birdsville Track. Come equipped for self-sufficient camping.... Find out more
Bush camping areas 147 kmSelf-sufficient bush camping (permit required) is permitted anywhere within 50 m of public access tracks. Given the impact of desert wind and sun, low-lying areas with the shade of gidgee woodlands are recommended. Be... Find out more
Bush camping areas 152 kmCamping is permitted in the national park only within 500 m either side of the QAA Line. Munga-Thirri is extremely remote: visitors must take a 2-way radio, spare vehicle parts, fuel and a week’s worth of food and... Find out more
Coongie Lake camping area 163 kmThis wonderfully remote wetland is birdwatching heaven, with a stunning array of waterbirds and raptors. There’s a choice of idyllic lake-front campsites, and unlimited scope for canoeing, photography and nature... Find out more
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Scrubby Camp camping area 219 kmPeaceful sites beside the north-west branch of Cooper Creek on its run to Coongie Lakes are found along Coongie Track, 45 km north-west of Innamincka. Access is 4WD only and a permit is required.... Find out more
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Hotels, motels & B&Bs around town
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What's on around town
Rodeo and Bronco Branding: May.
irdsville Cup Racing Carnival: 1st meeting of this annual event was held in 1882 and the tradition continues on the claypan track south-east of town; held 1st Fri and Sat in Sept, when the population swells to over 6000.
Big Red Run: Six-day ultramarathon; July.