Outback Queensland Rail holidays - Photo
Spirit of the Outback, Gulflander and Savannahlander rail tours - Photo
Queensland Rail Holidays 2024 - Photo
Group holidays to Outback Queensland by rail 2024 - Photo

itinerary

Day 1 • Tuesday: Depart Brisbane

To start our adventure, enjoy an afternoon welcome reception at a local cafe in Brisbane, right beside the iconic Roma Street Station. Meet your tour leader as well as your fellow travellers while enjoying a beverage and canapes before heading to the platform for our date with the Spirit of the Outback. After checking in and locating your sleeping berth, relax and settle in for our 6.10 pm departure. From the comfort of your air-conditioned, first-class sleeping berth you will enjoy a fascinating journey from Brisbane to Longreach. A chef-prepared dinner is served in the train’s “Tuckerbox” dining car and afterwards you can unwind in the “Shearers Rest” lounge car as evening descends on our northbound train. Overnight: Spirit of the Outback (D)

Day 2 • Wednesday: Longreach

Wake up to a vista of the Central Ranges, while towns like Bluff, Blackwater and Emerald roll by as we enjoy our cooked breakfast. Soak up the ever-changing landscape as we head further into the heart of the Queensland outback, passing sleepy Central Queensland towns like Alpha, Jericho and Barcaldine in the afternoon, leading to our destination of Longreach at 7.15 pm. Named after the “long reach” of the Thomson River, the town had only been gazetted for five years when the railway arrived in 1892. Longreach is situated right on the Tropic of Capricorn and has a population of just over 3,000, boosted by travellers who come to see the great museums, notably the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and the Qantas Founders Museum. After our early evening arrival, we take the short walk (or taxi) across the road to our accommodation which is also the location for tonight’s dinner. Overnight: Longreach Motor Inn, Longreach (B,L,D)

Day 3 • Thursday: Longreach – Winton

After breakfast, we take the short stroll to the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, Australia’s premier outback heritage institution where you can explore the museum showcasing an eclectic mix of objects – touchscreens, open displays, photographs, artworks and audio-visual presentations. A fun filled live show follows before we head across the road to the Qantas Founders Museum for lunch. The Qantas Founders Museum tells the story of the four key figures who founded Qantas and highlights what life was like in Queensland in the 1920s. The history of our iconic airline unfolds as you experience a 1½-hour Jet Tour, a behind-the-scenes look at both a 747, 707 and more. In the afternoon, we board our private coach from Red Dirt Tours to take us the 180 kilometres to Winton and check into our heritage hotel in the heart of town. This evening you will enjoy dinner in the hotel’s authentic retro dining room. Overnight: North Gregory Hotel, Winton (B,L,D)

Day 4 • Friday: Winton

This morning after breakfast at the hotel we begin the exploration of Australia’s rich Dinosaur legacy. Viki from Red Dirt Tours is on hand once again to take us on a guided tour of the wild country to the west of Winton, leading us across the outback to the exceptional Lark Quarry National Monument. It was here that the world’s best preserved fossil, and proof of a Dinosaur stampede was discovered by the local station manager in the 1960’s. Your time here includes a guided tour and a film. Back in Winton, lunch at leisure before our driver, Vicki will pick you up for the drive out to visit the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum. Here you’ll have plenty of time to wander the displays and our guide will show us around and host the walk-through Dino Canyon. To cap off the day we enjoy an early dinner at Age of Dinosaurs and visit the new Observatory which has only just opened and is a great addition to the Outback story. Overnight: North Gregory Hotel Winton (B,D)

Day 5 • Saturday: Winton – Mount Isa

The morning is yours to continue exploring the town and its attractions or to just relax until it’s time to depart. You could explore the Waltzing Matilda Centre, the first museum in the world dedicated to a song. Our coach will then travel the journey across the wide, rugged outback, passing through Kynuna and Cloncurry to Mount Isa. After checking in to our hotel we don’t have far to travel to enjoy dinner—the private dining room in the hotel’s restaurant is the best place to go! Overnight: Ibis Verona, Mount Isa (B, D)

Day 6 • Sunday: Mount Isa

With a full day to explore, we start with a compact town tour travelling past the vast mine complex to the lookout and the historic Underground Hospital. In the afternoon, visit the lsa Experience and Riversleigh Fossil Centre. This is a multi-media gallery presenting the prehistoric, indigenous, cultural and mining heritage of the Mount lsa region. The gallery displays a mixture of artefacts, photographs, specimens and models as well as audio and video accounts of Mount lsa’s fascinating history. You then have some free time before we gather again in the afternoon and head out of town to visit Lake Moondarra for sunset drinks and canapes. Overnight: Ibis Verona, Mount Isa (B)

Day 7 • Monday: Mount Isa – Normanton – Karumba

This morning we board our flight from Mount lsa to Normanton via Doomadgee and Mornington island, hopping from one settlement to the other and flying low enough to enjoy the spectacular views of the Gulf. On arrival in Normanton, we will transfer to the train station for a 40-minute trip on the RM60 (subject to service running), the Normanton Station’s 78-year-old vintage rail motor. One of the highlights is watching the driver start the motor with a crank handle! After exploring Normanton and lunch at the local pub, we will transfer to Karumba and settle into our accommodation for the next two nights. Overnight: Ash’s Holiday Units Karumba, (B,L,D)

Day 8 • Tuesday: Karumba

This morning after a hearty breakfast, our friends at Karumba host a bird watching boat tour along the river and estuaries including a history of the town from the aspect of the river as the gateway to the Gulf. The rest of the morning is at leisure for you to enjoy the town and take a break from the busy schedule to just relax. You also have the option to visit the Barramundi discovery centre which your tour leader can facilitate. We then gather in the late afternoon to join the Luxury Sand Island Sunset Dinner Cruise. Our little boat takes off from Karumba out into the Gulf waters. Watch the sky and sea turn to fire while relaxing on Sun Island (tide and weather permitting), an intriguing and completely flat sand cay. We enjoy a light dinner of banana prawns, a specialty fish dish, tropical fruit platters and ice-cold drinks. The rest of the evening is yours to enjoy and the popular Sunset Tavern always on hand for a welcome night cap. Overnight: Ash’s Holiday Units, Karumba (B,D)

Day 9 • Wednesday: Karumba – Normanton – Croydon – Cobbold Gorge

After breakfast we roll back across the flood plains and grasslands to Normanton and board the legendary Gulflander. Also known as the Tin Hare, the old rail motor has traversed the line between Normanton and Croydon every Wednesday for over a century on a unique line known as, “the line from nowhere to nowhere”. Our driver and guard keep the commentary rolling and the whole experience is a slice of authentic Australian bush travel, complete with the odd stop to drop off mail or allow wandering livestock and native animals to cross our path. We arrive in time for lunch at the Club Hotel in Croydon and then our coach takes us to the remote out-station of Cobbold Gorge Resort, arriving just after sunset where dinner is hosted on the deck of the restaurant. You are then free to have a nightcap at the bar or wander back to your cabin, marvel at the stars and enjoy the peace and quiet of this wild Savannah location. Overnight: Cobbold Gorge Resort, Cobbold Gorge (B,L,D)

Day 10 • Thursday: Cobbold Gorge

After a hearty bush breakfast, we will join a morning tour and cruise of Cobbold Gorge. Custom-made electric boats glide through the water below the spectacularly sculptured gorge walls in an almost eerie silence, ensuring minimal disturbance to wildlife. There’s every chance of seeing one of the resident freshwater crocodiles! The gentle bush walk takes you up to the edge of the gorge and then a smart glass bottomed bridge takes you across it revealing even more aspects of this ethereal place. After lunch we will board our all-terrain vehicle for a tour of Robin Hood Station (supposedly named because it adjoined the Sherwood mining lease), a 1284-square-kilometre cattle grazing property run by third-generation cattleman, Simon Terry and his wife Gaye. On your station tour you will visit the cattle yards, dams and outbuildings, hearing rare insights into the cattle grazing industry and relaxing over a traditional outback ‘smoko’. You can also take a helicopter joy flight (optional) to see this spectacular country from the air. Overnight: Cobbold Gorge Resort, Cobbold Gorge (B,L,D)

Day 11 • Friday: Forsayth – Mount Surprise

Staff from Cobbold Gorge Tours will transfer us to Forsayth where we board the Savannahlander for the first stage of its 500-kilometre journey to Cairns. Departing Forsayth Station, the terminus of the Chillagoe Railway and Mining Company line built in 1910, the train traverses the Newcastle Range and later, pauses for lunch at the iconic Einasleigh Pub right beside the vast Copperfield Gorge. In the mid-afternoon, the train pulls into Mount Surprise where we will transfer to Undara for an Archway Explorer Tour. The Lava Tubes are giant volcanic caverns—the oldest in Australia and the longest on Earth. At sunset, head back to Mount Surprise, and after a hearty roast dinner wander over to the character-filled pub or settle in for some entertainment around the campfire at the village. Overnight: Mt Surprise Village, Mount Surprise (B,L,D)

Day 12 • Saturday: Mount Surprise – Cairns

The second leg of the Savannahlander journey to Cairns has us boarding early at Mount Surprise. The journey is full of rugged Outback scenery, and we’ll make a few stops: lunch at the Railway Hotel, Almaden; Dimbulah for afternoon tea; Barron Falls and the grand Barron Gorge; and finally, Cairns in the evening. We will stay at the centrally located Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort and dinner this evening is at leisure. Overnight: Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort, Cairns (B,L)

Day 13 • Sunday: Cairns – Port Douglas – Mossman Gorge – Kuranda – Cairns

This morning we head north, by air-conditioned coach to Mossman Gorge with a morning tea stop in Port Douglas along the way. We then travel to the Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre for a light lunch followed by a walk through the beautiful tropical rainforest in Mossman Gorge itself. We will return to Cairns and travel on to Kuranda, “The Village in the Rainforest”. The Skyrail Gondola is a special experience that takes us down to the coastal plain, flying over the canopy of the rainforest and marvelling at the wonderful views across the ranges and out over the Coral Sea. This evening is at leisure to explore the Cairns Esplanade, just around the corner from our hotel. Overnight: Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort, Cairns (B,L)

Day 14 • Monday: Cairns – Atherton – Kuranda – Cairns

After breakfast at the hotel, we depart for a tour of the region of the rich Atherton Tablelands. We start by travelling south across the Sugar Cane fields then up the steep Gillies Highway to the lush forests and farming country of the tablelands. First stop is the excellent Mining Museum and then we take the short run to meet the team at the Herberton Historic Railway Museum. Here we learn about the restoration work and history of the railways of the tablelands before sampling it ourselves with a run along the old line to the astounding Historic Village. You have time to explore the vast collection and witness a variety of big machines in action. We return via Mareeba and the mountain road back to Cairns. We should arrive with plenty of time to freshen up and rest before enjoying a delicious three-course farewell dinner at the scrumptious Raw Prawn on the colourful Cairns esplanade. Overnight: Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort, Cairns (B,L,D)

Day 15 • Tuesday: Tour End (B)

Breakfast is at your leisure in the hotel and then you are free to continue on your way to other awaiting adventures. Tour terminates. All out, all change. Please mind the gap!

dates & pricing

Twin Share Sole Use Departs 2024
$8195 $9293 28 May – SOLD OUT
$8195 $9293 2 July – SOLD OUT
$8195 $9293 20 Aug
$8195 $9293 10 Sep
$8195 $9293 24 Sep
  • A deposit of $500 per person required to secure your reservation
  • Final payment due 65 days prior to departure
  • FITNESS RATING – Two ‘Locos”:
    2 loco itineraries offer many activities that require a little extra fitness – walking on uneven ground, climbing hills to enter towns or historic sites, walks of 1-3 kilometres as well as getting on and off transport. You need to have good mobility and aerobic fitness and be able to manage your own luggage.
  • TOUR PACE / LEVEL OF FITNESS:
    While you don’t need to be a ‘gym junky’, a reasonable level of fitness is required. The ability to manage your own luggage, get on and off the train and coaches, walk for extended periods, stand comfortably, and climb steps and stairs will ensure you get the maximum enjoyment from your adventure.

Highlights & inclusions

  • First-class sleeper train journey on the Spirit of the Outback – Brisbane to Longreach
  • Mail-plane flight over the Gulf Country from Mt Isa to Normanton
  • Travel on the iconic outback Gulflander, known as the ‘Tin Hare’
  • Travel to Cairns aboard the vintage Savannahlander
  • Boat trip to a private sand island in the Gulf for a sunset soiree
  • Fascinating Cobbold Gorge and Undara Lava Tube experiences
  • Visit the outback institution Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame
  • Marvel at the aviation history of the Qantas Founders Museum
  • Walk Dino Canyon at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum
  • Ride the Atherton Herberton Railway to the historic village
  • Characters, scenery and iconic journeys from the desert to the tablelands and rainforest
  • 14 nights’ accommodation in comfortable, 3 or 4-star hotels or rail sleeper cabins (or best available)
  • Breakfast daily, eight lunches and eleven dinners
  • Complimentary drinks with welcome and farewell dinners
  • Comprehensive sightseeing with expert local guides
  • Excursion/entrance fees, except those listed as optional in the itinerary

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