Matilda Way

Holiday here this year - Follow in the footsteps of outback legends from Cunnamulla near the NSW/Queensland border north to Karumba on the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Cunnamulla, Charleville, Longreach, Winton, Cloncurry, Karumba 



Distance 1697 kms 
Travel time  5-8 days 
Time of year to go  April to September
Vehicle type  2WD or SUV
Best bakery  Heinemann’s Country Bakery, Charleville
Highlights  Charleville Cosmos Centre, Longreach museums, Age of Dinosaurs and Lark Quarry stampede site near Winton, Karumba and Gulf country.
RACQ safety tip  Don’t forget a phone, food and water in case of a breakdown. Be alert for road trains and check road conditions on the trip. Take a break every two hours.

Cunnamulla to Charleville, 200km

(via Mitchell Hwy/A71)

You can’t drive past the Cunnamulla Fella without snapping a selfie with the super-sized bronzed stockman before heading north across the plains. Fossickers keen to try their luck can detour here out Yowah, home of the boulder opal or Eulo for artesian mud baths.  Charleville is perfect for stargazing, and the Charleville Cosmos Centre has observatory sessions every night. This is bilby country and if you’ve never seen a live one before book a Bilby Experience tour to get to know these cute endangered desert-dwelling bandicoots.

Charleville to Longreach, 514km

(via Landsborough Hwy/A2)

Break the long drive to Longreach with a stop at Blackall where shearing legend, Jack Howe, set a world record in 1892 shearing 321 sheep in seven hours and 40 minutes with blade shears – you’ll learn all about him and his famous singlets on a tour of the Blackall Woolscour. Stop too at Barcaldine on the Tropic of Capricorn to see where the Australian Labour Party was formed beneath the ‘Tree of Knowledge’ outside the railway station in 1891. There’s plenty to see in Longreach, so allow an extra day and visit the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, walk the wing of a 747 at the Qantas Founders Museum, ride a Cobb & Co coach at full gallop and take a sunset cruise on the Thomson River.

Longreach to Winton, 180km

(via Landsborough Hwy/A2)

Winton is famous for being the place where Banjo Paterson wrote Waltzing Matilda – the brand new Waltzing Matilda Centre tells the story – and for the dinosaurs that once roamed over these vast grasslands. Their bones are on show at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs, and you can see the fossilised footprints of the only known dinosaur stampede at Lark Quarry, around 110km from town.

Winton to Cloncurry, 348km

(via Landsborough Hwy/A2)

Stretch your legs at Combo Waterhole near Kynuna – the billabong that inspired Banjo’s famous song – and learn all about the man who created the Royal Flying Doctor Service at John Flynn Place in Cloncurry.

Cloncurry to Karumba, 455km

(via National Route 83)

Follow the footsteps of Burke and Wills to Karumba on the Gulf of Carpentaria, stopping on the way for a cold drink at Normanton’s famously purple Purple Pub. If you’ve ever wondered how big the local crocodiles are check out the life-size replica of an 8.63m crocodile in the park. In Karumba head to the grassy garden of the Sunset Tavern to watch the sun sink into the sea, a fitting finale to an epic road trip.

Images by Tourism and Events Queensland, Reichlyn Aguilar, Jennie Bucknell and Rowan Bestmann.


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