Birdsville: A short history

Depending on which way you approach it, Birdsville lies at either the start or the end of the Birdsville Track in the corner of South West Queensland, and only 14 kms over the South Australian border.

Situated in Queensland’s beautiful channel country on the eastern fringe of the Simpson Desert, the Birdsville area’s traditional custodians are the Wangkangurru-Yarluyandi people. European visitors to the area can be traced back to 1844 when SA Survey-General and explorer Charles Sturt led expeditions to the area. Burke and Wills also set up ‘Camp 76’ in the region on their return from their disastrous transcontinental trek in 1860.

Soon after, pastoral occupation and development began in the area, and a depot of sorts was set up by merchant Mathew Flynn to service the area and which also became a customs point for stock and supplies entering South Australia. In fact, Birdsville (originally called Diamantina Crossing until officially surveyed in 1885) became a vital part of a 90-year droving era and an important part of Australia’s pastoral history.

The advent of Australian Federation in 1901, saw the abolition of stock and supply tolls at colony borders. From then on, Birdsville, having boasted a community of more than 300 people, saw its numbers dwindle over the years to less than 50 by the middle of the twentieth century.

Iconic Outback Tourism Destination

Although cattle remains a major industry in the area, today’s Birdsville is firmly entrenched as an outback tourism destination.

The town and surrounding area boast many attractions from historical and important landmarks, desert wonders including the extremely rare Waddi tree and red sand dunes as high as 30 metres. There are also significant annual events including the Birdsville Races where the town swells from around 110 to more than 7,000.

Visitor Services in Birdsville

Birdsville also services visitors with:

Of course, integral to everything in Birdsville is the pub — a famous landmark that has become a quintessential Aussie destination.