Birdsville was not on my radar until we drove into Windorah and saw the sign “Birdsville 388km” We thought Why not? After making enquiries at the service station we were told that it was about half bitumen and half dirt. Having travelled it, it was closer to 150km bitumen and the rest dirt. There was only about 40km that I would term rough with some corrugations. The rest was pretty good. There was very little traffic, either way. The landscape is not as stark as one would expect.
There are a couple of points of interest on the way. Dions Lookout is worth the couple of km in to get a birds eye view of the landscape. There is also Aboriginal art on the side of a hill near the Betoot turnoff. Betoot is simply a pub about halfway to Birdsville. The publican showed no interest in engaging in conversation and I felt that we were intruding on his day. You would think he would welcome customers and their cash. Not so.
Coming into Birdsville there was a Police Roadblock with a Covid focus. It was the first Covid stop I had experienced and they were very thorough. To prove I had been in Queensland as long as I have I had to log into my internet banking and scroll down showing the places that I had spent money. After going back 3 months he was satisfied. It is good to know that the system is working!
Birdsville itself was a huge surprise to me. A pleasant kind of surprise. I had expected a dusty road in with an old pub on one corner, a bakery and a couple of old fuel bowsers and not much else.
Wow! Birdsville is a thriving little community with neat streets and a lot of fairly new buildings. The pub is well maintained and inside it looked like many I have seen in Fremantle. The wide bitumen streets are clean and the caravan park, apparently run by the Shire looks almost brand new. Excellent facilities. The bakery wasn’t opened and to get a meal at the pub you had to pre book. A phone call from Windorah secured that. No choices apart from Roast Beef or Roast Pork. At $25 it wasn’t expensive. They did say their accommodation was booked out but there didn’t appear to be too many tourists around. Fuel was around $1.75 a litre so not really over the top considering how remote the town is.
The racecourse looked like any metropolitan course with its huge grandstand and wide track. The Covid man said that the annual races (September) and the Big Red Bash (July) generated huge amounts of income for the town. Of course neither could be held this year. Whilst it would be good to experience either of these events, the crowds would be way too large for me nowadays.
Birdsville was certainly worth the trip out. Rhonda would have struggled going from Windorah. There is only 60km of dirt if you approach it from the north via Boulia so that would be the better way without a 4wd.