The Dowling Track

Outback Driving Adventures

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Open Information on town or member by clicking panel on top left of map.

Total Route Details:

  • Distance: 560km - Mostly Unsealed Roads
  • Allow: Min 3 Days (2 Nights)


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”- people travelled the track looking for a new life and new opportunities.

Vincent James Dowling (1835-1903)

  • Explorer and Pastoralist;
  • 1859 he established Fort Bourke station on the Darling River ( not to be confused with Fort Bourke Stockade).
  • 1861he founded Caiwarro and Eulo stations on the Paroo river and Yantabulla and Birrawarra in NSW.
  • 1864-65 settled Thargomindah Station
  • Traced the source of the Paroo and Bulloo Rivers
  • Mapped river and creek systems, ranges and plains and recorded Flora and Fauna in SW QLD and Western NSW

The Dowling Track is a 560km outback touring route linking Bourke in northern NSW to Quilpie in Queensland.
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/AWD tour (Dry Weather only) to experience the rich and diverse heritage of this outback region of Australia.


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 NSW, Sir Richard Bourke. Call into the Bourke Information Centre for all the details on tours and attractions. Bourke will charm you.

Fords Bridge:

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/NSW 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 reaches.

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.

Route Sections:

* 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 (Food & Huts by Mt Oxley), 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.

Outback Beds Members & Towns along the way


  • For the traveller, Thargomindah and the surrounding area offers wonderful National Parks (Lake Bindegolly NP and Currawinya NP), friendly farm stays, unique birdlife, amazing geomorphology of ancient land forms including massive sand dunes, historic pubs, and carpets of outback wildflowers after r...

  • Rising from a perfectly flat landscape, Mt Oxley has outstanding 360 degree views, and showcases the abundance of wildlife, including Wedge-Tailed Eagles and Euros (Macropus Robustus), who inhabit the outcrop of the mountain. Photographers, birdwatchers and bushwalkers – the experience will be unm...

  • "If you know Bourke, you know Australia" so wrote the famous Australian poet Henry Lawson in 1882. Although Bourke is a town, it is something that is etched in the psyche of Australia and is commonly used as a reference point to the start of the true Outback. 'Back o Bourke' is a colloquial term f...

  • Imagine sitting by your campfire as a vivid, red sun sets over a timeless Outback landscape. Parrots chatter in nearby Coolabah trees as the purple dusk creeps across a cloudless sky. This is Kilcowera Station - a stunning contrast of mulga rangelands and ephemeral wetlands brimming with birdlife ...


 Dowling Track Map