The Ultimate Family Outback Adventure | The Whitsundays, QLD - The Whitsundays QLD
The Whitsundays, Queensland.
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Sometimes taking the road less travelled will reveal hidden gems! On your family road-trip to The Whitsundays, in the Heart of the Great Barrier Reef, why not take that advice and experience an outback adventure. The Whitsundays is only 1,100 kilometres north of Brisbane, travelling outback, you’ll be sure to cover more kilometres and create lasting memories. We’ve got the best bits mapped out to keep the trip interesting and enjoyable for the whole family.

Day One: Depart Brisbane to Roma

Depart Brisbane on the M2/ National Highway. Turn off onto the Warrego Hwy/A2 and take this all the way out to your first stop in Dalby.

Dalby southernqueenslandcountry

Photo credit: Southern Queensland Country

First Stop: Dalby | 210km West of Brisbane | 2.5-hour drive

The kids will be in for a history lesson in Dalby. To get the best from this charming country town, take your time to talk to locals. Hit the Heritage Trail to explore on foot some of Dalby's historic buildings. Starting at St Joseph's Catholic Church, built-in 1921, then discover the old police station dating from the mid-1860s; the Art Centre, which was once the Bath House; and Mary's Commercial Hotel (1885) – one of the oldest and most legendary pubs on the Western Downs. The Myall Creek Parklands Walkway is popular with bird watchers, and it's also well-signed with plaques detailing places of historical significance. For a great picnic spot with a children's adventure playground, head to Thomas Jack Park on the edge of town. Heading out of Dalby, continue along Warrego Hwy/A2/State Route 82 past Chincilla and onto Miles.

Second Stop: Miles | 129km West of Dalby | 1.5-hour drive

Miles' premier attraction is the excellent Miles Historical Village and Museum in Murilla Street. The centrepiece is an accurate recreation of a Queensland country town's main street at the turn of the century. It contains a bootery, post office, a general store, bakery, the Union Hotel, a butcher's shop, and a dairy. Chinamans Lagoon is an excellent place to let the kids stretch and burn up some energy. In the summer and early autumn, the lagoon puts on a spectacular display of rare pink water lilies, a variety of lily that usually only appears as blue or white.  After your exercise, get back into the car and continue along Warrego Hwy/A2/State Route 82 to Roma.

Miles southernqueenslandcountry

Photo credit: Southern Queensland Country

Third Stop: Roma | 142km West of Mile | 1.5-hour drive

The biggest and best outback adventures start in Roma. Roma is a substantial rural service centre that lies at the center of a rich sheep and cattle grazing area. Referred to as the Capital of the Western Downs, Roma offers a range of accommodation and dining options suitable for all budgets. During your stay in Roma, you can join an authentic tour of the biggest cattle sale yards in the southern hemisphere, wrap your arms around Queensland's biggest bottle tree and learn about the discovery of oil and gas in Australia at The Big Rig.

Create some memories with the kids by kicking back, and relaxing as you discover the history of gas and oil in Roma – with lighting, sound effects, image projections, and props, of course. Spoiler alert: Did you know natural gas in Australia was first discovered in Roma? Book a ticket at the local Visitor Information Centre to find out more fun facts from the 35-minute show.

If you're keen to delve deeper into the oil well, spend a morning at the Big Rig Oil Patch Museum where you can get see historical rigs, interpretive displays, and other old-fashioned machinery that contributed to the industry.

Day Two: Depart Roma to Emerald

The quickest route out of Roma is to turn the car north along the Carnarvon Highway towards Emerald. The alternative route to Injune makes a loop through sand hills covered in grass trees, past giant bottle trees – it is recommended for 4WD only – just follow the Tourist Drive Signs starting 16 kilometres north of Roma.

Roma outbackqueensland

Photo credit: Outback Queensland

First Stop: Injune | 90km North of Roma | 1-hour drive

After a quick trip, you'll arrive in Injune, a small country town full of character, history, spectacular views, and breathtaking natural landscapes. Grab some breaky and a coffee at the local café before a visit to Henricks Park. Community pride is found in abundance throughout Injune, and the Lagoon Walk is the ideal location for a relaxing morning walk through a tranquil bush setting. Spot the birdlife and friendly marsupials that are in abundance early and late in the day.

Injune outbackqueelsand

Photo credit: Outback Queensland

Second Stop: Rolleston | 264km North of Injune | 3-hour drive

Your journey continues north, prepare for a long trip, continuing on the Carnarvon Highway.

Those looking for an adventure (and potentially extend their trip), from Rolleston, you can, access the Ka Ka Mundi, Salvator Rosa, and Carnarvon Gorge sections of Carnarvon National Park. Carnarvon National Park, renowned as one of Australia's most spectacular wilderness areas and important Aboriginal cultural sites.

For families just looking to stretch your legs and take a break on the way to Emerald Rolleston's Boundary Rider's Hut is a great resting place. Located in Beazley Park, the historic boundary rider's hut (a slab hut which was moved into town) from the Purbook property. It is a memorial to the pioneers in the area. The hut deteriorated during the prickly pear plague which decimated the area in the 1920s, and hunters and contractors subsequently used it. The local coffee cart in the park will provide your driver with a caffeine boost to finish the trip to Emerald.

Rolleston queensland

Photo credit: Queensland

Third Stop: Emerald | 140km North of Rolleston | 1.5-hour drive

Arrive in Emerald, a tranquil town that is located on the Nogoa River in Queensland's beautiful Central Highlands. Emerald is the main service town to the area and offers accommodation options to suit all travellers. The Emerald Visitor Information Centre provides friendly advice from locals on where to eat and what to do with your time in the region.

An experience that will interest the whole family is a trip to the sapphire gem fields. Here you will find some of the largest gemstones in the world, a must-see on our outback adventure. The Sapphires were first discovered in this area in 1875 and span over a 900-kilometre square radius. Nearby townships Sapphire, Rubyvale, Anakie, and Willows Gemfields offer many gems of activities for visitors. With anything from underground mine tours, digging tours, and sapphire shops to visit, there's plenty to do on a day trip to the area, and it can be easily explored from Emerald.

Emerald queensland

Photo credit: Queensland

Day Three: Depart Emerald to Collinsville (The Whitsundays)

If you didn't get enough time in the gem fields or around Emerald on day two, make sure you get up early and take the time to explore this beautiful region, otherwise hit the road and follow the Gregory Hwy/A4 North. It's a long drive, so make sure you have plenty of fuel, suppliers, and game prepared for the kids. After Clermont, you won't have anywhere to stop for food or fuel.

First Stop: Mt Coolon | 320km North of Emerald | 3.5-hour drive

Mt Coolonis a classic outback town with a welcoming local pub. Originally a gold mining town, there is a wealth of history and stories throughout this tiny town.
The owners of the Mt CoolonHotel have renovated the pub, but have kept its country charm and heritage feel. Hearty meals, drinks from the bar, or service in the courtyard are available on your visit to Mt Coolon.

As you head out of Mt Coolon, admire the cattle stations and rick Australian landscapes. Turn left onto Barclay St/Bowen Developmental Rd/State Route 77, headed for Collinsville.

Mt Coolon

Second Stop: Collinsville | 140km North East of Mt Coolon | 1.5-hour drive

You have officially arrived in The Whitsundays! Collinsville is the outback heart of The Whitsunday region, situated at the foothills of the Clarke Range, the historic mining town of Collinsville is a small outback town that makes up for its size with its vast country welcome! For those travelling with accommodation, Collinsville offers a state of the art free RV park close to town.

There is plenty to do and see in Collinsville, check out our drive itinerary here. Whether you decide to stay for an afternoon or overnight, you won't want to miss the Coalface Experience. A celebration of the town's mining history and a fascinating look at life underground for the many miners who worked there. With interactive displays, historical records, audiovisual exhibits, and theatrettes. Around town, the kids will love the various 'selfie walls' where you can photograph yourself alongside paintings of the much-loved pit ponies. Finally nop trip is complete in Collinsville without a visit to the Bowen River Hotel. Turn left onto Strathmore Road; it's a thirty minutes drive along an unsealed road to the historic Bowen River Hotel. Originally built as a homestead in 1862, the hotel is steeped in history and has a couple of spooky stories to tell.

Your Whitsundays adventure will continue east of Collinsville to the beautiful beaches of Bowen, on to Proserpine, and then to Airlie Beach and wonderous Whitsundays Islands. Check out our range of accommodation and activities in The Whitsundays here.

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