Following in the footsteps of Cobb & Co coaches that used to along this 1437km trail, that takes you from Brisbane to Innamincka the Adventure Way will surprise you with its unique diversity
Like many travellers, I began my journey along the Adventure Way at Cunnamulla. The Warrego River was flowing well after the region received good amounts of welcome rainfall recently. At the Caltex on the junction of the Mitchell and Balonne Highways, I stood at the rear diesel bowser waiting for the attendant to zero off the pump, as did the bloke towing a 25ft caravan at the pump next to me. We both headed to the front of the building to find the doors all locked up and an automated machine standing there instead. How time is a-changin'.
Cunnamulla is renowned for the Cunnamulla Man statue and the Cunnamulla Fella Roundup Festival. The region was built on sheep and cattle where young ringers spent long days working hard and weekends drinking hard which led a bloke named Stan Coster to write the song The Cunnamulla Fella, later immortalised by Slim Dusty with lines like:
“Now I’m a scrubber, runner and a breaker too,
I live on damper and wallaby stew,
I’ve got a big cattle dog with a staghound cross,
I never saw the scrubber we couldn’t toss,
‘Cause I’m the fella from Cunnamulla
Yes I’m the Cunnamulla Fella”
The statue of The Cunnamulla Man takes pride of place in front of the Shire Offices.
The Cunnamulla Fella Roundup Festival hits town from the 30th of June to the 3rd July with a rodeo and rodeo school and culminates with the Drought Angels Concert headlined by Tania Kernaghan. This event was previously known as the Cunnamulla Fella Festival.
There are plenty of other things to do in Cunnamulla spotting local birdlife while canoeing along the Warrego River or taking a stroll along the River Walk. Take the kids out to sandboard down the natural sand dunes or simply cast a line at one of the many fishing holes along the river. Don’t forget to check out the Cunnamulla Visitor Information Centre to learn more about this outback town.
Continuing west along the Adventure Way, the gidgee dominates the orange sands for the 67km drive to the township of Eulo. The first point of interest you’ll spot is the life-sized statue of the Diprotodon that roamed this region during the Pleistocene Epoch between 2.588 million and 30,000 years ago. This was Australia’s largest species of megafauna with males weighing in at up to 2.8 tonnes, almost as big and heavy as my Prado.
At the same site is the old police barracks and cells, built-in 1923 and the World Champion Lizard Racing Track. The first lizard race was held in 1967 and quickly became a major event, drawing crowds of 5,000 people in some years. If you look closely, you’ll see the memorial for “Destructo”, a champion racing cockroach accidentally killed in 1980 after winning the Challenge Stakes against “Wooden Head” the champion racing lizard.
I enjoy camping behind an Outback pub and the Eulo Queen is certainly a favourite. Not only is the campsite and ablutions clean, but the beer is icy cold, and the meals are fantastic. I can vouch for the lunchtime burger and the T-Bone for dinner. The publican is extremely hospitable and always happy to see you.
Camping behind the Eulo Hotel, always a favourite spot.
The pub was named after Isabel Gray, a colourful legend who, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, owned three hotels, a general store, butchers shop just for starters. She traded with the opal miners as they passed through, amassing a fortune in opals and gems. You can read more about Isabel in the bar.
There is also a small general store that sells fuel and has a limited menu of take away food. They also make a great coffee, and the bacon and egg rolls are a perfect starter to the day. Opposite the store is Paroo Patch where Tom Rosenow produces some of the best quality leatherworks I’ve ever come across.
If you prefer to free camp, there is space down on the banks of the Paroo River although it is a popular spot. If you want to pamper the missus, take her to see Edyta at the Artesian Mud Baths and enjoy a soak in a bathtub full of local mud for 1½ hours ($90 per adult).
Back on the road and just over 40km before Thargomindah is Lake Bindegolly National Park a popular bird-watching site when there is water in the lake system. There is a bird hide on the right-hand side of the road and a small bush camp on the left. On the approach to Thargomindah, you’ll cross several bridges where the Bulloo River spreads when in flood.
Thargomindah is another town that offers more than most travellers realise. The place to camp is either beside the main Bulloo channel or at the Explorers Caravan Park, which offers a large unpowered area, a small number of powered sites, a decent-sized campers’ kitchen and clean ablutions.
I recommend the Visitor Information Centre as your first stop as it is here that you will learn about all the points of interest including the old Cobb & Co crossing, Pelican Point a good spot to throw in a line, Leahy Historical House and the amazing historical tour. For $10 per adult, you receive an electronic pass that gives you access to the haunted hospital complete with hologram ghosts, the Old Goal and the incredible geothermal electricity plant.
There is plenty of good street art to check out as well, it certainly livens up the main street and looks awesome. For a top-notch roadhouse meal, you can’t go past the Explorers Rest Roadhouse, I can recommend the burger just make sure you ask to add cheese, egg and bacon.
Having departed Thargo after a great night’s rest, it didn’t take long to reach the Warry Gate Road. One of the best outback pubs is the heritage-listed Noccundra Hotel which is only 20km from the road junction. This is a great place to settle in for a tasty homecooked meal and some cold beverages. There is a cracking free camping area beside the Wilson River waterhole that is across the road from the pub.
I was having withdrawals having spent so much time on the blacktop so decided to take a detour down to Cameron Corner for the night. Following the Warry Gate Road for 129km to the southwest, I turned right onto Orientos Road and then left onto the Cameron Corner Road 12km further on. These turnoffs are well signposted so you can’t miss them.
The Cameron Corner Road tracks through the swales of the orange dunes mostly with gidgee and saltbush dominating the landscape. Some of the salt pans had to be bypassed, the recent rains filling them to overflowing, it was great to see the birdlife that the rains had drawn to this remote country. I stopped for lunch on the way, a couple of pies heated in the Travel Buddy were very tasty. It’s approximately 110km from Orientos Road to the Cameron Corner Store and a nice drive it was too.
Pulling into the car park at the corner, there were only a couple of 4WD’s there already, border closures were still causing problems. I couldn’t visit the corner post as access is via South Australia. I was welcome at the Cameron Corner Store though; they are always a friendly bunch out here. An old ringer stopped in on his way through and we enjoyed a couple of drinks as he told stories of adventures at “Bollards Lagoon” station.
Having moved the Prado to the free camping area next to the store, it was a quick set up before relaxing in the shade until dinner time. Not being in the mood to cook, I walked the short distance to the store and ate well. Dinner service was busy as campers rolled in late and the campfire outside drew people in, like moths to a flame.
The local rooster started early, he enjoyed walking under the camper trailers and off-road caravans to crow loudly, waking many just before dawn, and even with earplugs in, I could still hear him. Fresh coffee and bacon and eggs were on offer at the store, and I wasn’t the only one there enjoying a hearty breakfast. Once the belly was full, I quickly packed up and headed towards my destination, Innamincka.
I backtracked to the Orientos Road and turned left, heading northwest past “Santos”, crossing many dunes and passing several salt pans as the track led to the Innamincka Road, just near the Dig Tree. A visit to this historic site is a must, even if the blazes have grown over. I still can’t understand why Burke, Wills and King didn’t fish Cooper Creek.
As it was bitumen from here to Innamincka, I aired up my tyres again and enjoyed a late lunch away from the flies. Thankfully, the South Australian border was reopened to travellers from Queensland overnight, so it was a relief to cross the border without being stopped. Innamincka itself was very busy, which is the norm more often than not now. The Strzelecki Track is like a highway and the road from Thargomindah is bitumen all the way.
After enjoying a beer at the Innamincka Hotel and fuelling up at the Trading Post, I ventured down to the Town Common, paying my “donation” before trying to find a good spot to camp. Amazingly, my luck was in, and I backed the Prado into a tight corner where no one else could come close. It also turned out to be beside the river gum where I’d spread my Mum’s ashes years before.
As the sunset and the flames of my fire dwindled, a pair of corellas sat and chatted on a nearby branch. The Adventure Way might be bitumen for its entire length, but it is still one heck of an outback adventure. The changing landscapes, the local characters, the historic townships with top pubs and best of all, the tranquillity of getting away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
ADVENTURE WAY FAST FACTS
Region: The Adventure Way tracks 1,100km from Brisbane to Innamincka and is bitumen for all but 150km. This article only covers the section from Cunnamulla to Innamincka with an excellent detour to Cameron Corner.
Best time to visit: The temperate months from April to the end of October are the best times, however, the region is open all year. It’s advisable to keep an eye on the weather and road conditions as they may close after heavy rain.
Camping options: The CamperX app is your go-to for this adventure, showing all the caravan parks, free camps, dump points and fuel stops along the entire journey.
What to bring: Firewood, tyre deflator and air compressor (if heading off-road). Fuel is readily available along the way and there are plenty of places to lick up supplies also.
Difficulty: This is an easy drive if you stick to the bitumen. Head off-road and the degree of difficulty rises with gravel roads and sandy tracks often only as good as the last grader.
VISITING INNAMINCKA - BURKE AND WILLS LAST STAND