Visiting Central West Queensland safely
Many roads in Central West Queensland are unsealed and impassable when wet. There are no all-weather access roads to any park in this region. Some parks, and some areas within parks, are accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicles only.
It is recommended that you visit between April and September, in the cooler months. Summer temperatures can climb to over 40 °C, and high rainfalls can also occur in summer, followed quickly by floodwaters.
Flooding can occur up to two weeks after rain elsewhere in the catchment. Rain can fall at any time of year and even a small amount of rain can make roads impassable. Check with the Queensland Transport or local council offices for current road conditions before your trip.
Access to some parks is through private land. Be considerate and leave all gates as you find them.
Elizabeth Springs Regional Park is not accessible by vehicles. A short walking track from the boundary gate enables you to experience the park. Goneaway and Hell Hole Gorge national parks do not have vehicle access, formed tracks or visitor facilities.
Astrebla Downs National Park is not open to the public.
Choose a travel route
How much time do you have? Allow at least three weeks to see all the parks open to visitors. Your time will be well rewarded.
Short trips (about one week)
- Winton—Bladensburg—Lark Quarry—return Winton—Combo
- Forest Den
Longer trips (about two weeks)
- Bladensburg—Combo—Lark Quarry—Diamantina
- Munga-Thirri (formerly known as Simpson Desert National Park) adds at least one week to any itinerary.
- Parks of Central West Queensland map
- Parks of the Cooper Creek catchment—park maps
- Parks of the Diamantina catchment—park maps
- Lake Eyre Basin map
See each park’s web page for more detailed information on getting there and getting around.
These parks are remote and rangers may not be onsite to help you. You must be self-sufficient, responsible for your own safety, and prepared for emergencies.
Be sure to read all essentials to bring and follow the guidelines below to help ensure your visit is a safe and enjoyable one.
Before you leave
- Thoroughly check the condition of your vehicle and pack vehicle spares and equipment, including two spare tyres, engine coolant and oil.
- Ensure you are familiar with your equipment and experienced with inland Australian conditions. For more remote parks, ensure one person has sound mechanical knowledge of your vehicle.
- Check local road and weather conditions and extended forecasts for where you intend to travel.
- Calculate driving distances accurately and plan refuelling points.
- Leave an itinerary with a friend or relative. Include travel routes and/or check-in points.
- Pack reliable communication equipment and a list of local UHF radio channels and emergency contacts.
- Pack for hot and cold conditions. Outback Queensland can be very hot during the day, and very cold (to below freezing point) overnight. Check with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology for more information on average temperatures.
- Contact us or relevant tourist information centres to help you plan your trip.
- Keep to designated roads and tracks and drive with caution at all times. Animals can appear on roads at any time of day and road conditions can change quickly.
- Stay with your vehicle if it breaks down. A vehicle is much easier to find than a person.
- Always carry drinking water whether driving or walking. Always treat water from streams, rivers or waterholes before drinking.
- Never jump or dive into a waterhole. It may be shallow or hide submerged objects.
- Watch your step on escarpments. Edges can be unstable due to natural weathering, so stay away from the edge and take care where you walk.
- Wear protective clothing. Wear a hat, sunscreen and wear sturdy footwear, not thongs.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times and be on the lookout for animals and insects that could scratch, sting or bite.
In an emergency
In an emergency, phone Triple Zero (000) and if this fails try 112, or contact the local police station directly.
You can also try to make contact with people on UHF radio. The most commonly used channels are listed below, however you should also seek local advice and scan for people using other channels while you are travelling.
Winton Police Station (07) 4652 5130
UHF Channel 1 (duplex)
Winton Police Station (07) 4652 5130
Kynuna Police Station (07) 4746 8777
Boulia Police Station (07) 4744 1644
UHF Channel 2 (duplex)
Blackall Police Station (07) 4652 5151
UHF Channel 24 or UHF Channel 6 (duplex)
Longreach Police Station (07) 4652 5200
UHF channel 2 (simplex)
Munga-Thirri (formerly known as Simpson Desert National Park)
Birdsville Police Station (07) 4656 5677
UHF Channel 10
Jundah Police Station (07) 4652 5115
UHF Channel 3 (duplex)
Aramac Police Station (07) 4652 5101
For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.
Essentials to bring
- Adequate water, food and emergency supplies. Carry at least seven litres of water per person per day and enough emergency food and water for at least seven days in case of breakdowns or stranding.
- Fuel stove. No fires are permitted in these parks.
- Complete first-aid kit. Include sun and insect protection in your kit.
- UHF, satellite phone and/or a Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs). Mobile phone coverage is poor or not available in most areas.
- Extra fuel and vehicle repairs. Frequent low gear and four-wheel-drive travel will use fuel more quickly on park drives. Fuel and supplies may not be available nearby. Use maps to plan refuelling points and calculate how much extra fuel to carry. You should also bring vehicle repair tools, spare tyres, oil and engine coolant.
Most Central West Queensland parks are open all year round except Munga-Thirri (formerly known as Simpson Desert) National Park which is closed from December to mid-March.
However, wet weather may cause temporary closures, and you are advised not to visit in the hotter months between October and March. Check park alerts or contact us for information on park conditions and closures.
While you are free to walk the tracks at Lark Quarry, access to Lark Quarry’s dinosaur trackways is by guided tour daily (Christmas Day and Boxing Day excluded), and fees apply. To arrange tours, contact Winton’s Waltzing Matilda Centre.
Permits and fees
Camping permits are required to camp in all Central West Queensland parks and fees apply.
- See each park’s web page for information on booking your camp site online.
- If you cannot book online, see camping bookings for other options.
- See more general information about camping in national parks.
Commercial photography permits may be required if you intend to sell any photographs taken of Queensland’s parks and forests. Organised event permits may be required for organised group activities that may interfere with general public use. Contact us for further information.
Desert Parks Pass
If you wish to continue into the South Australian section of the Simpson Desert, you’ll need to purchase a Desert Parks Pass. See the Munga-Thirri National Park page for more information.
Domestic animals are not permitted in any Central West Queensland parks.
Climate and weather
Visiting is recommended from April to September as summer temperatures reach over 40°C during the day, and summer rains often cause flooding. Rain can fall at any time of year and flooding can occur up to two weeks after rain elsewhere in the relevant catchment area, resulting in unexpected creek rises and road closures.
Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.
Fuel and supplies
The nearest fuel and supplies to these parks are often hundreds of kilometres away. Visit each park’s page for details on the nearest fuel and supplies.
- There are currently no park alerts for this park.