About Central Queensland outback, inland from Rockhampton
This section explores the best places to visit in the country along the Capricorn Highway into the outback. The initial stage crosses the Great Dividing Range, and takes you to the coal-mining centre of Blackwater. By contrast, south-west of here lies the Carnarvon National Park, which has some of the finest mountain scenery in Queensland. There are spectacular walks through the gorges, as well as some of the best Aborigine rock paintings in Australia.
Back on the Capricorn Highway you come to the gemfields. Here you can try your hand at fossicking for your own sapphire or ruby to take home. But be warned: it’s hot out here, with temperatures rising to 40°C in the summer.
Further on you come to grazing country and Longreach, which is almost 700 km from Rockhampton – but well worth the journey. This is the home of the Stockmen’s Hall of Fame, a superb heritage centre that outlines the long and unique history of the outback.
From here you can retrace your route, or head on via Winton to link up to Northern Queensland Outback, Inland from Townsville. Whichever way you choose, allow at least a week.
Regular buses connect all the main towns along the Capricorn Highway, taking nine hours to Longreach, Greyhound buses run a comfortable service (www.greyhound.com.au). The Queensland Rail train The Spirit of the Outback covers the same route, taking approx. 14 hours to Longreach (www.queenslandrailtravel.com.au). But if you want to see the Carnarvon National Park and explore the gemfields, you’ll need your own vehicle. We recommend Vroom Vroom Vroom who have 4WD and pick up and drop off points across Australia (www.vroomvroomvroom.com.au).