Possibly outback Queensland’s most renowned and remote town, the name Birdsville prompts thoughts of pioneering history and outback adventure in the ‘back of beyond’. Once a toll point for stock crossing the Queensland and South Australian border, Birdsville had a pre-federation population of over 300. With federation came the town’s decline into a town supporting pastoralists on surrounding cattle stations until tourism increased and the lure of the treacherous Simpson Desert and legendary Birdsville Track began to attract four-wheel-drivers in droves.
These days, Birdsville is a thriving community of 115 people with a pub, bakery, caravan park, two service stations and general stores and an excellent display of artwork and artifacts in the Wirrarri Visitor Centre. Come September, an influx of up to 8000 people descends upon the tiny town for the annual Birdsville Races, which many call ‘the Melbourne Cup of the outback’.
‘Big Red’, the 40 metre high sand dune on the edge of the Simpson Desert, the world’s largest area of parallel sand dunes, is the best spot to watch the sun set, while the old Diamantina Crossing is the pick of fishing spots in the mighty Diamantina River. One of Burke and Wills’ camp sites is marked with a blazed tree and the largest patch in the world of rare Waddi Trees, or Acacia Peuce, stand boldly on a gibber flat 12 kilometres to the north of the town; one of only three such patches in the world.