Birdsville is a small town located in south-west Queensland, between the sand dunes of the Simpson Desert and the gibber plains of Sturt’s Stony Desert. On the banks of the Dimantina river, the area is known as ‘Channel Country’, for its 150,000 square kms of ancient flood plains that provide excellent grazing land for cattle.
Birdsville experiences both extreme heat and extreme cold. In winter, temperatures can drop to zero at night, while in the peak of summer the mercury hovers in the mid 40s.
Established in 1887, Birdsville was then a thriving metropolis with a population of over 300. It was a major toll collection point for the droves of cattle being transported between Queensland and South Australia. With federation, tolls were abolished and the town’s population dwindled to about 50 during the 1950s. Since then, Birdsville has become a popular tourist destination. With a current population of roughly 100, it boasts modern infrastructure and thriving businesses.
Tourism joins cattle as the town’s major industry. An estimated 50,000 people visit Birdsville each year. The annual Birdsville Races, on the first weekend in September, draws over 6,000 of those tourists. A new airport terminal and 1732m bitumen strip attracts many visitors in private planes and numerous tour operators who choose Birdsville as the primary destination for their outback Australia tours.
Driving tourists often stop in Birdsville as part of their Simpson Desert crossing. 4WD enthusiasts and adventure seekers are attracted to the tough driving and desolate area that is the Simpson Desert. Between Birdsville on the east and Mt Dare on the west, there are roughly 1,100 sand dunes, the biggest being the legendary ‘Big Red’, the closest sand dune to Birdsville. From other directions, driving tourists are able to bring caravans, Winnebagos and campervans to the caravan-friendly town.
Accommodation in the town is available at the famous Birdsville Hotel or at the Birdsville Caravan Park. Groceries and souvenirs are available from the Birdsville Roadhouse – you can see a full list of our services here. Our groceries are delivered by road train from Adelaide (South) and Quilpie (East). With these limited deliveries, the town rarely sees a newspaper, let alone a current one!
A Skytrans air service operates from Brisbane to Mt Isa (stopping at Birdsville on the way) each Monday and Thursday, carrying passengers and mail. It returns from Mt Isa to Brisbane each Tuesday and Friday, again stopping at Birdsville. On Wednesdays, Westwing Aviation flies to Birdsville from Pt Augusta delivering mail to cattle stations along the way. There are limited passenger seats available on this service.
Central Eagle Aviation runs charter flights covering ‘Big Red’, the channel country and Lake Eyre. They’re a popular way for tourists to see the magnificent Simpson Desert landscape from the air.