Outback Queensland is the birthplace of Australian legends (Waltzing Matilda was first performed in Winton); it’s a place that shaped a ‘fair go’ attitude (Australia’s first workers strike was in Barcaldine); and it launched some of the nation’s most impressive events (cue Birdsville Races and Winton Vision Splendid). It’s also home to the best station stays in the land. To help celebrate Year of the Outback, we asked Shelley Winkel to list her favourite outback station stays, both inland and on the coast.
1. Noonbah Station, via Longreach
Fiery sunsets, dazzling stars, and breathtaking peace is how owners Angus and Karen Emmott describe the 52,000ha beef cattle station that’s been in their family for four generations and is now a popular station getaway. Guests can camp at a secluded waterhole, or sleep peacefully at the Old Schoolhouse, a renovated corrugated iron cottage where Angus and his siblings were schooled by Air.
Event Tip: Stop here on the way to Winton’s Way out West Fest (25–28 April). Just ask Angus and Karen about the secret back road to get there faster.
2. Bonus Downs Farmstay, Maranoa
Get a true taste of station life, hear first-hand about farming practices from the owners, Lyle and Madonna Connolly. A tour of the quintessential grand homestead is a must-do before hitting a swag, the shearer’s shed, or the Jackaroo’s cottage for the night.
Event tip: You may still get there in time for Roma’s Easter in the Country from 18–22 April and can easily make the Cobb & Co Festival in Surat in August (150km).
3. Shandonvale Station, via Barcaldine
Dust off your stereotypes (and your city clothes). This century-old station gets the gong as the fun capital of the farm scene, thanks to the chance to go heli-mustering, catch a freshwater yabby, and a little bit of old-fashioned butchering. The four bedrooms in the 100-year-old Shearer’s Quarters offer queen beds, 1000-thread count sheets, a fully-functioning kitchen and a classic claw-foot bath. Fly to Longreach and take the farm limo (aka the ute) to the property.
Event Tip: Close to Barcaldine and the Tree of Knowledge Festival, held 3–6 May. Make sure you hit the traditional May Day parade.
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