When you think of a family holiday, not many would think about Outback Queensland being an option. But all you have to do to see what an amazing adventure Outback Queensland is for a family holiday, is to rewind your mind back to a time when you were a kid. What did it feel like going on an adventure surrounded by nature and exploration? Imagine seeing mum and dad packing up in preparation for the big journey ahead. The excitement that comes with it, the anticipation of discovery and new experiences, an epic road trip just waiting to be done.
From the very paths where dinosaurs once roamed, where precious gemstones can be fossicked, where campfires can be lit beneath a million stars as you share stories, it’s time to venture into the world of the Outback for a family holiday you won’t forget.
Discover the dinosaurs
Arguably the most spectacular discovery of all is the world’s only Dinosaur Trail found in Outback Queensland. It’s a long journey to explore, spanning approximately 215 kilometres across the towns of Winton, Hughendon and Richmond. The path was once a giant inland sea centuries ago, where creatures of epic proportions used to once call it home.
Get the kids involved with some hands-on learning at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, which is home to some of the largest fossils in the world. For those feeling a tad bit daring, take a walk along the Dinosaur Canyon for spectacular views and a dino lesson your kids won’t forget. Follow a guided tour of the Collection Room, featuring Australia’s most complete dino skeletons arranged in display.
Discover the very inspiration that sparked Steven Spielberg’s creation of the stampede sequence in Jurassic Park at the Lake Quarry Conservation Park located 110 kilometres from Winton. Featuring the world’s only real evidence of a Dinosaur Stampede, compare your footprints against these magnificent beasts that once used to dominate our lands.
To see a real life replica of Murraburrasaurus, Hughie, head to Hughendon’s main street. This dino will make your kids’ jaws drop as they awe at the four metre replica spanning eight metres long. The real Hughie was discovered around the area in 1962.
Learn more at Outback at Isa
A true spirit of the Outback, Mount Isa’s beautiful mining town features the Outback at Isa. Beyond an accredited visitors centre, the Outback at Isa combines three of Mount Isa’s major attractions - the Hard Times Mine, the Mount Isa Experience and Outback Park, and the Riversleigh Fossil Centre.
Staffed by locals equipped with comprehensive knowledge of all facets of the attractions alongside historical facts of Mount Isa, an adventure here is a learning experience that’s hands-on for the kids.
Let the kids get down and dirty in the depths of the Hard Times Mine. What better way for them to understand the grasp of one of Australia’s largest industries than to experience it for themselves? From donning the overall and lamp hats to descending into the mine in the Alimak Cage, the fun only begins here. Squeeze your way through tunnels as your local guide tells tales of what it was like being a miner back in the day. Get up close and personal with the machinery and have a go at holding an air-leg drill that will have the earth beneath you rumbling.
The Mount Isa Experience is a cultural experience blending in indigenous and modern perspective, providing an insightful look into the makings of the multicultural society we live in today. The Outback Park is a garden of exploration with extensive landscapes featuring native plants surrounding a waterfall inspired by Lawn Hill Gorge.
The Riversleigh Fossil Centre gives kids a taste of the exciting world of fossicking and discovery. It also provides a fascinating overview of mining, pioneering, and local Mount Isa history.
Have a Splash at the Family Fun Precinct
Kids and water go hand in hand, especially when it’s coming close to summer. This is exactly why a splash at Mount Isa’s premier recreational space is a must when adventuring with the family in the Aussie Outback. After all, the Family Fun Precinct in Mount Isa is Queensland’s largest all abilities playground.
Home to the Splashez Aquatic Centre featuring a 50 metre swimming pool and a shaded kid’s wading pool with a cool fountain and rapid river ride, this is the place to be for kids looking to do laps. Head to the Family Fun Park for the water feature action. A project that cost $4.25 million to design and build, the water play available here is nothing short of amazing.
There’s a pirate ship themed junior playground for kids 0-6 years old, a challenging senior playgrounds for kids above 6 years old, a waterpark with over 20 installations with lights and sound, soft fall rubberised ground cover all around, a liberty swing, a double flying fox, a sensory garden, a bike track, large grassy areas, free to use barbecues, shaded seating, and so much more. Be prepared to spend the whole day here when bringing your kids along as they won’t want to leave!
There’s also a Community Skate Park for the young ones to test their skills on banks, rails, spins, moguls, blocks and small hips. The facilities cater to all skill levels so you’ll be able to find something for your kids to do be it BMX bikes, scooters or skateboards.
Visit Lake Moondarra
A water oasis in the Australian Outback, setting your eyes upon the lake brings forth a magnificent feeling with the picturesque backdrop of the rough red earth terrain.
A short 17 kilometres north of Mount Isa city, the water haven is home to an array of bird life including pelicans, cormorants, ducks, and galahs. Make your visit fun for the kids and pick up a species list from Outback at Isa, challenging them to see what birds they can spot.
Lake Moondarra has plenty of grassy areas for the kids to play and also has free to use barbecues for those looking to cook up a meal. Whether you’re looking to go swimming, sailing, boating, canoeing, or fishing, you’ll be thrilled to hear that Lake Moondarra facilitates all of the above with barramundi stocked for anglers. Permits aren’t required for fishing but do note that catch limits apply.
When to travel Outback Australia for a family holiday
If you can avoid coming over during the summer, do it. The heat levels can be quite high, making an adventure or exploration not so fun when out in the hot sun. The best temperatures are usually around April to October.
Depending on when you travel, be sure to check the temperature and weather conditions as winter can see sub-zero nights, so you’ll need to pack accordingly.
If your visit has the privilege of flexible timing, try and time your visit during the Mount Isa Rodeo which guarantees a whole lot of fun especially for the kids. It’s a look into the country life while enjoying all the festivities and events that come along with it - live entertainment too.
Where to eat and stay
A visit to Mount Isa is a must when exploring Outback Queensland, which means that a meal at the Rodeo Bar & Grill Steakhouse at the Isa Hotel is a must.
The name certainly says it all, a steakhouse that is befitting of the culture of the Outback. You’ll find the best premium steaks here perfectly paired with tantalising sides that will have you asking for more. If you aren’t a steak fan, you’ll be glad to know that the menu goes far beyond steaks including burgers, fresh seafood, pizzas, and classic Aussie pub fare. And for the kids, treat them to all-time favourites including nuggets, lasagne, fish, steak or chicken parmigiana.
Given you’re travelling with the family, check yourselves into the Isa Hotel for affordable Mount Isa accommodation that promises comfort right at the heart of the city. With great customer service and local knowledge, you’ll be pleasantly taken care of at the Isa Hotel during your family holiday in Outback Australia.
Banner image credit: Outback Queensland