The Other Side of Queensland

One of the things that surprise people is Australia’s size. Most people (outside Australia, that is) don’t realize that Australia is almost the same size as the continental United States. However, there are only six states and a couple of territories—so most of the states are mighty large. As a result, states generally possess a geography that reflects Australian geography as a whole: good and abundant beachfront property with some nice trees and a lot of people not far from the shore, behind which lies an immense stretch of generally parched wilderness. This is certainly true of Queensland.

I saw glimpses of Queensland’s less than verdant regions on my first visit to Australia when I visited Cooktown and Charters Towers. But my real adventure in Outback Queensland wasn’t until my fourth trip to Oz. I had wanted to get to Birdsville, to travel the legendary Birdsville Track, on my first trip, but getting trapped in a flashflood in South Australia for a week kept that from happening. So during one of my return visits, my friends Nikki and Richard planned a trip that would take us not only to Birdsville but all over the Corner Country, that geologically wild, wonderful, and decidedly arid region where South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, and the Northern Territory share borders.

Of the myriad remarkable things we saw during that trip, one of the most astonishing was the Simpson Desert. The image below is of Big Red, a 120-foot-high sand dune that marks the beginning of the great Simpson Desert dune field. In the Simpson, there are more than 1,000 dunes, all parallel, all running northwest to southwest, all about 100 miles long, and all standing 1500 feet apart. They look like giant waves in a red ocean. Climbing to the top of Big Red, we had an almost limitless view of the rolling, red landscape spreading toward the Northern Territory. It hardly seemed possible that this was the same state that had offered me my first glimpse of rain forest.

Big Red


Filed under Australia, Geography, Nature, Travel

4 responses to “The Other Side of Queensland

  1. writinggb

    Reminds me of southwestern Colorado, a place called Garden of the Gods. Same colors!

    I’ve always wanted to travel to Australia. Hope I’ll manage some day. I’ve heard there is a terrible long-term drought there. Is this something you noticed in your recent travels?

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever been to Australia when it wasn’t just recovering from a terrible drought. The drought always seemed to have broken just before I arrived. Maybe they should hire me to visit more often!

  3. I just jumped directly to your blog from reading “An American Childhood” (Annie Dillard), and the writing landscape felt contiguous. You have a gift. It makes me want to see Queensland for myself. And when I get there, it’ll help me see everything more thoroughly.

    God has used you, Cynthia, to feed my spirit. Thanks.


  4. Thanks for the comparison to Annie Dillard. I’ll have to see if I can use that on the site for my book.

    Thanks for the link, as well—and I’m glad I could be an encouragement.

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