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- Copyright © Simon Bayliss 2008-21
The Dowling Track - Bourke to Quilpie
Corner Country Touring
Travel in the footsteps of Vincent James Dowling and other early pioneers who over 100 years ago discovered this area, known as the 'Plains of Promise', as people travelled the track looking for a new life and new opportunities.
The Australian author, Henry Lawson walked from Bourke to Hungerford and back in the hellish summer heat looking for work.
The Dowling Track is a 4WD experience linking Back ‘O’ Bourke and beyond to Quilpie in SW QLD.
Immerse yourself in the rich and diverse heritage as you travel this unspoilt land. See the stars stretch forever. It is where your journey becomes more important than your final destination.
Bourke is the centre of the wool, cotton and citrus region as well as a popular tourist destination. Situated on the Darling River, Bourke has a rich heritage, immortalised in both poetry and song, since the famous Henry Lawson lived here and his experiences moved him to state, “if you know Bourke, you know Australia.” Charles Sturt passed through the district in 1828, however, it wasn’t settled until 1835when, Sir Thomas Mitchell constructed a Fort, Fort Bourke, named after the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Richard Bourke. Call into the Bourke Information Centre for all the details on tours and attractions. Bourke will charm you.
Fords Bridge, located on the Warrego River was once a small flourishing town with a butcher shop, Post Office, school and race track. Today ‘Fordsy’ is a sleepy town of four.
Call into the historical Warrego Hotel, 1913 from locally made mud bricks, thought to be the only pub in Australia still standing constructed from mud bricks.
Yantabulla; Originally called Yanda Bullen Bullen, aboriginal for ‘plenty to eat’, once was a prosperous town of nine houses, a hotel, store, school, police station and a cordial factory. Vincent Dowling once owned a homestead in Yantabulla, and Cobb and Co had a changing station here. Little remains today other than the spirit of those early days.
Hungerford is located on the QLD/New South Wales border, separated by a Rabbit Proof Fence, where you open a gate from one state to the next. Named after Irishman Thomas Hungerford, who with his brother pioneered country in New South Wales and Queensland. The Royal Mail Hotel, built in 1873, was originally a staging post for Cobb and Co and today is still an important part of the community. A Biannual field day is held in Hungerford each June.
Thargomindah is a special town with a unique history. First, in Australia and third in the world,( just one day after Paris) to have street lighting generated by Hydro Power. Discover Thargomindah’s rich history with a town tour of the original hospital, circa 1888, Leahy House, circa 1885 and Thargomindah’s original newspaper printery, circa 1884.
Call at the Information Centre for details.
The quaint Toompine Hotel is a perfect example of what you expect of an Outback Pub. The sign at this old Cobb and Co staging post says it all: Toompine- the pub with no town! Ask for direction to the lonely little Toompine Cemetery and find out why it is called a ‘cemery’ ( not a cemetery.)
Home of the Boulder Opal and ‘Colour of the Country’, located on a mulga ridge on the western side of the Bulloo River, out of flood reach.
A number of Australia’s most famous graziers, including the Costello’s, Tully’s and Duracks pioneered the land around Quilpie and the historical records of these families have become an important part of Australia's grazing history.
Quilpie opal is world famous and local fossicking is available 1.5km west of the town. Visit the vast attractions of Quilpie, including the opal altar, lectern and font of the Roman Catholic Church, Baldy Top lookout, Lake Houdraman, Quilpie Art Gallery and much more.
Contact the Quilpie Museum and Visitor Centre for further information.
* This touring route involves remote outback driving, so ensure your car is mechanically sound, carry enough water in case of a breakdown and most importantly ensure someone knows where you are and an ETA for your destination.
Bourke <> Kilcowera Station:
- Route: Bourke-Hungerford Road <> Dowling Track (305 km - about 4 hours) - Mostly Unsealed
Leaving Bourke, the first main stopover is Hungerford which makes a great lunchtime stopover at the iconic pub. From Hungerford, the Dowling Track runs along the SW/QLD border through Currawinya NP before heading north up to Kilcowera Station. This section is also unsealed but well maintained. Kilcowera Station (members of Outback Beds) makes a great stopover.
Kilcowera Station <> Quilpe:
- Route: Dowling Track (282 km - about 4 hours) - Unsealed and sealed.
Leaving Kilcowera, it is an easy 90min drive to Thargomindah before continuing north along the Dowling Track through Toompine and into Quilpie.
Dowling Track Map
*** Safe Outback Travel ***
Before heading out to the outback, for the safety of you and fellow travellers (and as a courtesy to those living in the outback), please to the Safe Outback Travel for tips and hints to get the most out of your next adventure.