June 06, 2014

Windorah

Words and photos by Carlisle Rogers

Gateway to Birdsville, heart of the Channel Country.

It’s a bit quiet here at the moment,” quipped Marilyn, the owner of the Western Star Hotel in Windorah. In fairness, it was January and the temperatures out that way were in the mid-40s for months. Come Easter, the little town of only 160 or so people comes alive, with hundreds of travellers making their way to Birdsville and beyond. Most just pass through after fuelling up, which is a good idea as the next fuel stop in Birdsville is 380km away. Windorah is, however, one of those places that if you stay a while you might just want to come back again and again.


Marilyn and husband Ian tell of the Wednesday and Thursday nights before the Birdsville Races quite differently.  “We had about 1500 for the yabby races in 2012 and around 800 for breakfast the next morning, not to mention 30 mad buggers on postie bikes on their way to the races,” said Ian.

You might not know it during the off season, but the WIndorah Service Station does a roaring trade at Easter.

But there is much more to Windorah than just a place to stop and fuel up or the once a year Yabby Races. For anyone looking for the real outback experience and some spectacular scenery, this place is amazing.  The town is about 10km from the mighty Cooper Creek - one heck of a creek but there is a story behind that.

Rainclouds threaten to turn the yards at Braidwood station into a ruddy mire. 

There are great campsites right along the river with great fishing and birdlife. Pelicans and cormorants in their thousands flock to the river as it dries into a series of large pools and millions of fish get pushed into the receding billabongs and water holes awaiting the next river run.

Windorah is the site of Ergon Energy’s first solar energy farm.
The sandhills to the west of Windorah are the reddest you will ever see. A spectacular place to watch the sun set.

A visit to the charming Western Star Hotel is a blessing for weary travelers. 

Travelling in any direction will see a changing landscape of channel country and open plains with an amazing range of wildlife. Only a few kilometres west towards Birdsville and Bedourie, the landscapes change to sand dunes of the deepest red (much darker than Big Red at Birdsville) that are very accessible for even the softest offroader. 
The town itself is quintessentially Outback Queensland - there is a sort of honesty about outback towns and their architecture. But wander around a bit, talk to the locals and visit the local art gallery, and you will find much more to keep you interested than you could have imagined.  
Windorah is really the gateway for travellers heading from Longreach in the north and Quilpie to the east to some of the more iconic destinations, but the trick for travelling anywhere in the outback is to take your time and give yourself scope to stop and explore - Windorah will amaze.

VITAL FACTS

Windorah is located 310km southwest of Longreach in the heart of the channel country, about 35km south of the conflux of the Thomson and Barcoo Rivers, which join to make the Cooper.
Camping is available at the Windorah Campground for $5 per night for a non-powered site and $10 per night for a powered site.
More information can be found at www.barcoo.qld.gov.au