Welcome to Windorah, in the heart of the Channel Country of Outback Queensland.
It’s here you’ll see what some say are the reddest sand dunes of the Simpson Desert, view how the outback is using alternative energy, history dating back hundreds of years, and fabulous nature.
This little outback town, boasting no more than 80 locals, has enough for you to stay a day or two and really enjoy the offerings and true outback hospitality.
You’ll cross the ‘creek’ as you enter Windorah from the east. It is the only creek in the world formed by two rivers joining due to a miscalculation of river mapping by the early explorers.
This permanent waterhole is a nature and camper’s delight. Pelicans feed on the river’s underwater delicacies. Magnificent River Redgums harbour the river where an array of birds and a kangaroo or two along, along with an assortment of other animals, call this elaborate stretch of outback water their home.
Camping is permitted on both sides of the creek. Toilets are on the eastern side of the bridge. The Cooper is perfect for canoeing, fishing, birdwatching, photography, and it is the picture-perfect outback waterway to relax in Outback Queensland.
Whitula Gate Museum and Windorah Visitor Information Centre
Set amongst an outback garden, the Whitula Gate Museum displays what life was like for a family in the 1800s. It’s free entry through the VIC, and the staff have all the local intel on the best places to visit (as we can’t list them all here). Free Wifi and Driver Reviver.
Top Tip: Pick up the self-guided walk from the Visitor Information Centre
Visit Windorah Red Sandhills
A mere 12 km west of Windorah on the Birdsville Road, you will find some of the most vibrant sand dunes of the Simpson Desert – it’s the perfect place for a sunset drink. Don’t forget to please take out what you bring in, and leave this remarkable spot pristine so others can enjoy it in the future.
Winding between the township of Windorah to Cooper Creek along the 12 km unsealed Nature Drive, you’ll see at least 45 plants that have been identified and signposted. This is a pretty drive through varying plant communities such as coolabah woodlands, gidgee open woodland, spinifex grassland to the Cooper Creek floodplain and past lignum shrubland.
You won’t miss the panels glistening in the sunlight as you drive into Windorah on the Quilpie Road. Each of the five solar dishes has an amazing 112 square of mirrors.
Top Tip: Keen photographers: this is a great sunset location and a night image with the reflection of the Milky Way in the panels.
The Old Courthouse
On the corner on your left, as you turn right to Birdsville, stands the old courthouse. It was originally the local Police Station and combined courthouse before becoming the residence of Tar Pot, a beloved local who called this shack home for many years. Tarpot gained his nickname when eight years of age, and it stuck through life, all due to his jet-black hair. The building is one of the most photographed in the outback.
New in 2022: Check out Sandy Kidd’s plane in the block out the back of the old Courthouse.
Sandy was a beloved local, an iconic aviation character, a councillor, grazier and a gentleman that the cause of others always came above himself.
Call into the Visitor Information Centre to borrow the dice to play a life-sized snakes and ladders game in this quaint park located next to the Windorah Visitor Information Centre. A covered playground provides more respite and time for little legs to have a well-deserved run on a road trip.
Dine like a local
The local watering hole is the Western Star Hotel, where you can be assured of a great feed. This pub is also home to the International Yabby Races, which sees the main street come alive with a night of music, food and frivolity! Plus, the bets are on for the fastest clawed creatures that take to the track the Wednesday before the Birdsville Races in September.
Top Tip: Check out the maps in the pool room at the Western Star Hotel. There’s a satellite map of the Cooper System from Windorah to Innamincka and an awesome map of the Lake Eyre Basin incorporating the channel country.
Top tip #2: See if Ian, the publican is in and ask him to tell you more – he knows this country well.
Wrap it up with the Information and History walk/drive around the town.
Grab the map and find out what we have missed in one of the friendliest towns in Queensland’s Outback.
There’s not much to see of the once town of Canterbury, 80 km west of Windorah, except the mere ruins of the J.C. Hotel and a few lonely graves in the small cemetery.
There’s history at the Windorah Visitor Information Centre on the town, the pub, the graves, along with J.C., officially known as John Costello.
Once you visit Windorah the first time, the chances are you’ll be drawn back to one of the unique and smallest towns in outback Queensland again that has a full hand of offerings to discover.
Want to visit Windorah?
Rex airlines fly to Windorah on the Western 2 line, see the map below and click here to book your flights;
If you want more advice on stunning Outback Queensland, click here.