Looking at leaving Brisbane behind for outback sunsets and hidden waterholes? Get the road trip games ready, the snacks primed and Daryl Braithwaite’s ‘Horses’ on repeat, we’re heading West! We’ve calculated roughly 5-7 hours of driving a day to get you to the Isa ASAP (with a little bit of fun along the way). Don’t forget! If you’re heading off the beaten track a little, check out our tips for outback driving to ensure a safe and prepared journey in the outback.
Brisbane to Roma
6.5 hours driving
Driving from Brisbane to Roma, enjoy the expansive views as you head up to Toowoomba and take a break to stretch the legs. Stop by the Cobb & Co Coach Museum and experience a vast collection of vehicles from the horse-drawn era, from farm wagons and delivery carts to the Rolls Royce of Carriages, the landau. If you’re passing through in September, be sure to attend the Annual Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers.
Upon arriving at Roma be sure to check out Queensland’s biggest bottle tree and the biggest cattle saleyards in the Southern Hemisphere. Enjoy dinner at Royal on 99 with a bistro, kids club and sports bar. Pets welcome too!
Roma to Tambo
4 hours driving
Once you’ve left the hustle and bustle of Roma behind (also your last Maccas and KFC stop before Mount Isa), get set for a day of history and straight roads!
On your way to Tambo be sure to pop into Augathella, otherwise known as ‘meat ant country’. Take a stroll through Meat Ant Park, located right next door to the town library. View the giant meat ant sculpture in the park; it is over a million times the size of an actual ant. While there you can also view the storyboards located around the park.
At Kenniff Tree, discover some of the history about the notorious bushranger brothers Patrick and James Kenniff. The brothers were a part of one of Queensland’s largest manhunts, lasting more than 13 years.
The Ellagowan Hotel is a must visit for a cool drink and some good old-fashioned country hospitality!
Once in Tambo, be sure to check out the famous Tambo Teddies, where you can marvel as these pure wool teddies in a variety of colours and styles. Spend your afternoon with a picnic on the dam and gear up for a night under the stars at one of the free camping spots. Not keen on roughing it? There are several caravan parks, or the Royal Carrangarra Hotel where you could rest your head for the evening.
Tambo to Winton
5 hours driving
This is a BIG day, and not just driving-wise. After leaving Tambo, continue heading north-west towards Longreach. With plenty of stops along the way for food, drinks and toilet breaks, the drive to Longreach should take approximately 3.5 hours.
Once in Longreach, there’s so much to do you could almost spend an extra night there if you have the time! From the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, to the Qantas Founders Museum, Longreach is a hub of life and activity. The Outback Stockman’s Show is worth the visit if you have the time, with shows running daily from 11am and dinner shows on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings. Bookings are essential.
Finishing off your day with a 1.5-hour drive to Winton, the home of Banjo Patterson’s Waltzing Matilda, check in to your accommodation and treat yourself to dinner at the famed debut stage of Patterson’s famous classic, the North Gregory Hotel. Standing in Winton since 1918, the hotel is a superb spot for a little dinner and history lesson.
Winton to Mount Isa
5 hours driving
Before leaving the quaint town of Winton, be sure to check out the famous Musical Fence. Located behind the Diamantina Heritage Truck and Machinery Museum, the permanent musical fence is the first of its kind in the world and has its own claim to fame. Not only was it used to create the famous musical riff in Gotye’s hit song ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’, it’s the first permanent structure of its kind in the world. Grab a stick and run along the wire fence to make your own music and test your rhythmic skills on the drum kit, which is made of recycled materials.
After creating a musical masterpiece, head to the namesake’s very own café, the Musical Fence Café, located on the main street.
Once on the road to Mount Isa, there’s plenty of places to stop for a break or a snack, including McKinley’s ode to Crocodile Dundee, the Walkabout Creek Hotel.
After arriving in Mount Isa, the world is your oyster for experiences, eateries and things to see and do. Head out to Lake Moondarra and try your hand at barramundi fishing, or learn about the Heritage-listed Underground Hospital. Make Outback at Isa, the local visitor information center, your first stop, to plan out and gauge just how much there is to do in the Isa!