“The Boulia Camel Races provides a unique experience in one of Queensland’s smallest outback towns. Watch the camels as they run to the tune of their own beat down the dusty track, and experience the fun and hospitality at the ‘Melbourne Cup‘ of camel racing in July every year.
Are you heading to the Boulia Camel Races for the first time? Attending the event can be the easiest part; the logistics and planning required to organise how you’ll get there and what to do once you arrive are integral to making it an all-round enjoyable experience. We’ve gathered all of our best tips and advice, based on our own experience of being there, to ensure that your trip to the outback town of Boulia and your time at the camel races is so good that you’ll want to keep coming back year after year.
As singer/songwriter Josh Arnold sings, “Since back in ’97, it’s all about the camels, and the characters and catching up with mates”. Whether it’s the famous event or the thought of seeing the mysterious Min Min light that has you booking your ticket for next year’s race, you’ll want to read our comprehensive first-timers guide to the Boulia Camel Races.
- Where is Boulia?
- The Boulia Camel Races
- Before you buy a ticket
- Buying tickets
- Who comes to the event?
- How to get there
- Where to stay at Boulia
- Where to eat and drink
- What’s the program like?
- What to wear to the event
- Tips for watching the camel races
- Other things to do at the races
- General tips for enjoying the event
- Other things to do in Boulia
Where is Boulia?
If you are interested in attending the camel races, you’d better know exactly where the host town is. Boulia is a small town on the edge of the Simpson Desert in the Queensland outback. The town of Boulia, with a population of 230, swells by the thousands each July during this outback festival.
Boulia, on the Burke River, lies within the channel country, a system of rivers, creeks and waterways that flow towards Lake Eyre.
Unless you come from the outback in the first instance, Boulia is a long way from the eastern seaboard of Australia and all other capital cities.
- Brisbane to Boulia – 1719 kilometres
- Townsville to Boulia – 960 kilometres
- Cairns to Boulia – 1166 kilometres
- Darwin to Boulia – 1902 kilometres
- Mt Isa to Boulia – 304 kilometres
- Winton to Boulia – 362 kilometres. A typical route for those coming from the east ( e.g. Townville, Brisbane)
- Bedourie to Boulia – 192 kilometres. A usual route for people coming to the camel races from the Big Red Bash at the beginning of July.
The traditional owners of the land in Boulia are the Pitta Pitta People.
Boulia weather in July – High 23°C Low 9°C with zero rainfall. [Always subject to change]
There are no public holidays in July in Queensland.
The Boulia Camel Races
The Boulia Camel Races are an annual event held in the Queensland outback. It is Australia’s longest and richest camel race, with heats taking place, each one growing in length until the final Boulia Cup race. The first heats sessions on Saturday see the camels run for 400 metres. Each race sees several camels knocked out, as only the first three placegetters get to move on to the next lot of heats. With the camels whittled down slightly, they then line up for the 1000-metre heats until the scene is set for the big one on Sunday; the 1500-metre Boulia Cup dash.
Fun fact: if the camels sit down at the starting line or take off before the caller says “go”, they are automatically disqualified.
Before you buy a ticket
The Queensland outback festivals and events are usually the hottest tickets in each town each year. Many events sell out quite quickly. Some, like the Big Red Bash, sell up to ten thousand tickets in a few hours! Purchasing the ticket is only a part of the planning process, but it’s important and integral to your trip.
The event runs annually on the third weekend in July, which assists with planning well before the tickets are released. In 2023, the Boulia Camel Races is on 14-16 July.
Once you’ve decided to attend the camel races, ask yourself whether you’d like to see other towns or events in the outback. Ultimately, it will come down to your time and budget, but if you plan on doing the long drive, it makes sense to see as much as possible.
Many full-time caravan and motorhome travellers spread themselves across many events; the Boulia races are often just one of many events they attend. Most outback events are scheduled close together, allowing time to attend each event and move on to the next one.
If you’ve got heaps of time, an itinerary like the one below will pick up six iconic Australian events.
Big Red Bash ( July 4-6) –> Bedourie Camel and Pig Races (July 8) –> Boulia Camel Races (July 14-16) –> Mt Isa Rodeo (August 10-13) –> Mt Isa Outback Masters Golf ( August 21-23) –>Birdsville Races (Sept 1-2).
Most big outback festivals and events occur during the cooler months of June – August. Visit the official website for a complete list of outback Queensland events timings.
As you have probably gathered, demand for these events is high, and it’s not only tickets. Bookings for local accommodation, including caravan parks and campgrounds, means you must consider and book all of this in advance if you require a definite place to stay.
If you are in a caravan or motorhome and like to stay outside of official caravan parks, for example, at council-run RV locations, these are not usually able to be booked ahead.
Tickets usually go on sale online around March each year.* Tickets are for three days and cost $90 per adult*. Individual day passes are not available. It’s a great price for three days. Even better, if you’re under 18, you get free access to the entire event. Other than food, drinks and merchandise, all other events are included in the entry price.
Tickets can also be bought at the gate, subject to availability. Buy tickets online here. [Note – this link will only be live when tickets are on sale]
You are given a wristband on arrival at the entry gate. It needs to remain on your arm for the duration of the event. This gives you quick and easy access every time you pass through the gates and allows you to come and go as you please.
*Subject to change. Refunds will only be issued under strict conditions and in accordance with Queensland consumer law. Specifically, a refund may apply if an event is cancelled, severe weather closes roads and prevents access to Boulia, or if it is a documented Covid-19 issue.
Pro tip: Don’t take this information as being 100% accurate. While it is correct at the time of writing, terms and conditions change, and interpretations of terms and conditions can differ. Always check the terms and conditions of the ticket issuer thoroughly before purchasing, especially where it relates to weather and Covid-19.
Who comes to the event?
Anyone and everyone is the simple answer. That’s the beauty of the outback festivals in Qld; they are perfect for people of all ages. At the Boulia event, there is plenty to keep the kids occupied, and event-goers can be as active or as laid-back as they like.
Most people who come to the Boulia Camel Races arrive with caravans, motorhomes or camper trailers. Many have been here for a week or more and have been to more than one outback event before coming here. The event also draws a young crowd on Saturday afternoon as they leave Mt Isa, bound for an evening of partying.
How to get there
Travelling to Boulia by road is most visitors’ preferred and most common mode of transport. Getting here is usually part of a more extensive road trip, especially for those in motorhomes and caravans, and access is possible via a variety of major highways. The roads coming south from Mt Isa (Diamantina Developmental Road) and east from Winton (Kennedy Developmental Road) are bitumen-sealed. The road between Winton and Boulia isn’t as good as some other parts of the highway, but it’s still easy to access via two-wheel drive vehicles.
If you are coming from Bedourie, some sections of the road are unsealed.
Remember, this is channel country, and while it might be tough to imagine during the drought, the waterways that weave through the plains can quickly turn this into an inland sea during the wet season.
Pro tip: If you are not travelling in a caravan, motorhome, camper etc., then we recommend booking your accommodation well in advance to ensure you get the hotels and rooms of your choice.
Our itinerary to the Boulia Camel Races >> Brisbane – Toowoomba – Roma – Morven – Tambo – Blackall – Barcaldine – Longreach – Winton – Boulia. We did it over 2.5 days.
We stayed at the Roma Motel in Roma and the North Gregory Hotel – a fabulous pub in Winton – and the Matilda Motel, also in Winton. For more places to stay in the outback, search here.
It’s a long way from anywhere, and driving here takes a lot of time. If driving straight there just for the event, it is essential to take regular breaks as you drive. Swap drivers if you are driving with other people. If you’re on your own, stop and get out on the side of the road for a well-earned stretch. Regardless of whether you have travelling companions or not, take the opportunity to stop in the small towns along the way. We love popping into the shops, looking around, and spending in local businesses.
In the heat, a haze is usually in front of you and on the horizon. Sometimes this can make it hard to work out what’s in the distance. Take your time when overtaking, especially caravans and longer vehicles like the road trains that frequent the roads out here.
Always make sure there is room to overtake. Sometimes the roads can get quite narrow, even if the shoulders are wide, and there are often markers on the road or small bridges.
Watch out for the wildlife on the side of the roads. Kangaroos and other native animals are often found on the edges of the highway at dawn and dusk, especially in drier conditions, as they come to the road’s edge looking for green grass. If you are not an experienced driver, staying off the roads at night is best. Even if you are, you’re probably better off tucked up somewhere than on the country roads.
Be aware of your fuel situation and how far your tank will take you. Never push it to the limit. Our golden rule is always to fill up whenever you see a petrol station, even if only in small amounts. There are some areas out here where fuel stops can be few and far between. If you see a sign saying “no fuel for x km”, pay attention. There’s no such thing as clickbait on the roads out here.
When the large festivals are on, the traffic on the highways and roads increases exponentially. There’s no point in getting frustrated or cranky. Travelling at peak times needs to be taken slowly. If you are entering Boulia just before the event kicks off, expect to be in a caravan convoy.
Most caravans are sensible and allow appropriate distances between one another for overtaking. Many will also indicate to let you know it’s safe to overtake. Be cautious though; just because someone tells you it’s ok to overtake might not mean it is. Always do your own checking as well before getting out into the opposite lane.
Pro tip: when the final camel race has run, there is a mass exodus of caravans and campers from the camping ground at the track. We advise hanging out at the races for a while longer and letting the traffic settle before heading off. Another alternative is to head into the pub and have lunch before making your way home.
Boulia has a small airport at the end of Herbert St. Rex Airlines flies from Brisbane (via Toowoomba, Charleville, Quilpie, Windorah, Birdsville and Bedourie). It’s a flight that takes all day, but if you can’t drive here, it’s undoubtedly the fastest way of getting into the outback. Flights are also possible from Mt Isa, where Qantas, Virgin and Rex Airlines operate.
Private aircraft can also land on the strip.
Travelling by rail into the outback is almost like driving, without the pressure of doing it yourself. However, you can’t get to Boulia directly via rail. The Spirit of the Outback takes passengers from Brisbane to Longreach. From Longreach, visitors need to find their way to Boulia. The easiest way is via a hire car. Avis and Budget operate out of Longreach Airport.
Where to stay at Boulia
There are several accommodation options in Boulia itself.
Located on the corner of the main intersection in town, it’s the hub of activity during the races. It’s also one of the few places to eat. There are 13 standard motel rooms and nine hotel rooms with shared bathrooms at a lower price point.
Location: 21-23 Herbert Street
Desert Sands Motel
Also located on the main street, this motel has 12 motel rooms. One of these is pet-friendly and only attracts a small surcharge.
Location: 50 Herbert Street
Boulia Caravan Park
Located right on the Burke River, just east of the bridge into town, you’ll find the caravan park. If staying at the racetrack isn’t to your liking, then setting your caravan or motorhome up here would be perfect. Powered and unpowered sites also cater to travellers with camper trailers, roof-top tents and even those who camp with the humble swag. There are also cabins.
The park has lots of shady areas. You might score a prized spot alongside the river if you’re quick enough.
There are basic caravan park facilities and the wifi is good enough here, even when there’s nothing at the racetrack.
Location: Diamantina Developmental Rd
For a dash of luxury in the outback, why not try glamping? It’s a great way of adding more fun to your overall adventure. The glamping tents are located trackside, giving campers easy access to the event. It also means you don’t have far to go once you’ve finished enjoying yourself at the nightly concerts.
The rough exterior of the land and the soft, luxurious furnishings inside the tent was such a contrast.
Glamping tents are great for couples or groups of friends and family who want to take their trip to another level. If you are camping, the tents can also be great for having a break from your home on wheels.
- Even though the glamping tents come fully furnished, it can get very cold in Boulia at this time of year. Taking an extra blanket or sleeping bag with you might be handy. As it turned out, my first night in the tent this year was on the coldest night that Boulia had all year; a chilly 2.5°C.
- The bathroom facilities are shared. Pack a small bag to fit your essentials in for the bathroom. It’s always good to have something that hangs. Take a pair of thongs or flip-flops for easy access to and in the showers. A light bathrobe is an excellent idea if you have room to pack it, and it will save worrying about where to put your clothes. You’ll see plenty of the campers getting around in oodies, thongs, Crocs and ugg boots!
Camping at the camel races precinct
If you plan to camp when you get to Boulia, and want to be as close to the action as possible, then the free campground at the racetrack is the place to be. Camping at the Boulia Camel Races is included in the entry price.
Pro tip: Unlike some other events, particularly Big Red Bash, there are no defined camping rules here. There are no roll-in and roll-out schedules. Of course, the early bird will get the best spots, but there is so much space here that you’ll have no trouble finding somewhere to pull up for a few days.
There’s always a load of free firewood on hand, thanks to the local volunteers who stock it all up before the event starts; campfires are always part of the magic here. Public facilities and access to the racetrack are all close by. Like most of Boulia, there’s a lot of dirt, so expect to be camping on some of Boulia’s finest.
Free RV camp
For those in caravans and motorhomes who prefer to be away from the action a little more, head to the Burke River Free Camp – also known locally as Three Mile. This free camp area has no facilities at all, other than rubbish bins, so it is only suitable and recommended for those who are self-contained. It’s a shady spot on the western bank of the river, is pet-friendly and has plenty of space available.
Free camping is not legal anywhere else in Boulia. Local law enforcement monitors this, especially during event times.
Note: this is outside the official racetrack area. Entry to the event is by ticket only. Campers at the free camp area are not permitted to use the facilities inside the racetrack.
Location: River Road, Three Mile
We always recommend camping responsibly. There is a dump station at the Boulia Truck Stop: Boulia-Mt Isa Highway GPS -22.907768, 139.904174. There are various potable water points throughout the town but no hookups.
Where to eat and drink
The racetrack is about 3.9 kilometres from the Australian Hotel in town. It’s not far, but once you are at the track, many set up for the day, enjoy a few drinks and therefore heading back into town isn’t an option. There are many food and drink choices at the race venue.
The coffee carts usually open up early each morning. This is also good to know if you are glamping, as you can quickly pop out of your tent to grab a hot drink.
The food and drink vendors are always subject to change, but there’s usually a range to cover most tastes. In 2022, for example, there were great burgers and steak sandwiches and dishes of loaded fries. There were curly potatoes on sticks, beautiful paella, fish and chips, crowd favourites like Dagwood Dogs and soft-serve ice cream! There were also fresh juices and smoothies.
In the main shed, you’ll find the bar and a food service area – canteen – offering meals. Pre-purchase drinks tickets from the merchandise tent to make life at the bar easier.
Places to eat in Boulia
The Australian Hotel in the centre of town offers good country-pub meals featuring pub favourites chicken schnitzel and a variety of steak and seafood offerings. Besides the roadhouse and a small cafe in the Min Min Encounter Centre, this is the main venue to eat in the town.
The menu can change, and there are different options for some days of the week. For accurate menus, visit their website.
Check out the dedicated ‘camel menu’. Subject to availability, you can munch on a camel pie or sausage roll, tuck into a burger with a camel patty, or even camel bangers and mash. Make it a camel occasion by washing it down with a crisp Camel Lager, poured straight off the keg.
Bookings are highly recommended to avoid disappointment and going hungry during event times.
If you are staying in the caravan park or at the campground near the racetrack, you can buy alcohol to take away over the public bar counter. Like anywhere in the outback, expect to pay more than you would in the city. A standard six-pack of beer is likely to set you back around AUD$30.
Pro tip: When the event is on, access to the internet can be difficult. If you are eating or drinking at the pub – or anywhere else – have some cash on you just in case!
What’s the program like?
The program may change each year slightly, but you can expect such things as:
- Several camel races (heats) across two days before the big finale
- If you are interested in learning more about the camel racing process, you can chat with the camel trainers. Don’t miss saying hello to Charlie, the loveable camel who loves eating lollies, drinking coffee and giving kisses.
- Fun events like sack races and tunnelball take place right on the racetrack. They aren’t trying hard enough if you don’t see a spill in the sack race!
- Cheer on your favourite local in the Great Australian Ride-On Lawnmower Race
Pro tip: If you go to the ground on Thursday afternoon, you’ll have a chance to see the barrier draws taking place.
- Dance and sing your heart out with one of the many fabulous entertainers every night
- Laugh and laugh some more at one of the Crackup Sisters’ performances. These funny girls that hail from nearby Winton put a spark in everyone’s day and should not be missed. They are also terrific supporters of regional arts and performances.
- It might be known for camels, but in Boulia, even the yabbies get a go. Once the camels have been put to bed, it’s time for the Yabbie Cup Yabbie Races.
- Watch the fireworks on Saturday night.
What to wear to the event
Anything goes at the Boulia Camel Races. Everyone is here to have a good time, so it doesn’t matter what you’ve got on; make sure it’s comfortable.
No one should ever come to the outback without a good hat that provides excellent protection from the sun. Akubra, RM Williams and Ariat are well-known brands that offer excellent clothing for more demanding conditions. You’ll also spend a lot of time on your feet on the hard ground, so good shoes – boots are best – are essential.
Here’s a general list that might help. Note these are all practical items that probably won’t be cool enough for the younger crowd who are there to party. If you plan to be there for the entire three days, it’s a long game, so be prepared.
- Layers work best in the outback. It can be cold/cool in the mornings, but if the wind stays away and the sun is out, it will warm up quickly. Wear layers for warmth in the morning and gradually strip them off during the day. At night time, you’ll need the layers back on again.
- A long-sleeved shirt is great out here as it also keeps the sun off during the day and warmth in at night. Jeans and long pants are also great.
- Wear closed-in shoes, preferably boots, unless you love having your feet in the dirt. It gets crowded around the track when the race is on or if you’re dancing to the bands at night, so boots also offer good protection.
- Good hat or cap. Wide-brimmed hats offer greater protection from the sun and also allow for the addition of another helpful accessory; the fly net. Unless you enter Fashions on the Field, no one cares what you look like. While flies tend to be a summer problem, you never know!
- Sunscreen is a must out here. Drinking, hanging out in the sun all day and sunburn don’t go well together. Insect repellent is also useful.
- If you feel the cold, a thermal undershirt is useful, especially if you are camping.
- A warm jacket
- Wet weather gear; the Boulia Camel Races is an all-weather event, so if it’s raining, you’ll need clothing to keep you dry.
- Neck bandanas are also an excellent accessory to keep the sun off your neck or head and, when necessary, the dust off your face.
Anaconda is one of our preferred stores for buying clothing and gear for our road trips.
Many race visitors come with their mates and family and take the opportunity to dress up, mix-n-match, or create a whole wardrobe, especially for the event. Some regular race attendees have team shirts made up every year! There are no boundaries to your imagination.
Pro tip: If your outfit stands out in the crowd, you might even find yourself being a celebrity in one of the print newspapers!
Tips for watching the camel races
If you want to see all races, then make sure you have studied the program and have the times noted in your diary. Set a reminder or alarm on your iPhone if you need to, as there are a lot of distractions here.
Smart race-goers get to the track early to set their chairs up alongside the rail. This means they avoid the hustle and bustle of the stand-up crowd. Unless you are in the grandstand, all seating and standing locations will be in the sun (or rain) so make sure you’ve got your hat on. The other great place is in front of the shed, which has seats on a sloping area, offering everyone a view of the action on the track.
Depending on sponsors, there might also be some beach umbrellas just back from the rail, offering a shady spot to sit. From here, you’ll need to stand up to see the races.
Fun fact #1: the camels can only ever run in one direction, so as the heats get longer and longer on the way to the final race of 1500 metres, the handlers have to walk further around the track to the starting point.
Watching the camels race is a funny thing, with every race being different due to the behaviour of the camels. And, while you might be there for fun, the jockeys, trainers and owners are here for the competition. Bragging rights mean everything on this weekend.
Fun fact #2: all camel jockeys are breath tested each morning before riding in any of the races. It’s hilarious watching the local police test them all in the centre of the track.
The Boulia Camel Races are a legal racing event overseen by Queensland Racing Integrity Commission. If you like a bit of a punt, there are also approved bookies on hand in the main grandstand area. Official scrutineers are on-site for every race to ensure the racing and wagering are conducted legally.
Pro tip: the camels can’t be steered by the jockeys, and as they are known for doing whatever they please – including sitting down – they can stray close to the rails. When the race is running, always watch where the camels are.
Other things to do at the races
Take a ride in a helicopter
While all the camel action might be happening at ground level, there’s a spectacular view waiting for you up in the clouds.
While this might sounds extravagant, it’s a cracking way to see the countryside around Boulia that you would never get to see in any other way – unless you fly into Boulia’s airstrip.
Operated by Elite Aviation Services, you get about 10 minutes of pure fun in the company of a professional pilot.
Enter Fashions on the Field
If you or your mates have decided to go all out and dress up for the occasion ensure you enter the Fashions on the Field.
Children’s amusement area
Let the kids channel their inner cowboy with the stationary bucking bull or their race-driver skills on the dodgem cars. Other activities include slides and the Crazy Wave. For around $25, the kids can ride these as much as they want on the weekend. It also wouldn’t be a camel race event without a camel ride!
Pets are allowed in the campground in your camping area only and should be managed responsibly. For obvious safety reasons, pets are not permitted within the racecourse area.
The racetrack is built on the ground, and it’s dirt (often with plenty of dust) and, if not in a drought, there will even be some grass. However, it’s not uniform, so anyone in a wheelchair must take it slowly.
Wheelchair-accessible toilets are located in the main grandstand, and access is via a ramp. Once in the grandstand, access is possible to the bar and canteen, with tables and chairs all undercover.
Note that the free bus to the racetrack is not wheelchair accessible.
There sure is. A shuttle bus makes frequent trips to and from town.
Members of the Queensland Ambulance are onsite during the event, and there is also a first-aid office right near the race calling tower, should you need medical assistance at any time.
There are taps in and outside of the public facilities. While it is potable, it may not taste that great. If you aren’t in your own vehicle, which is more likely to have onboard drinking water, water can be purchased at various onsite stalls.
You can get cash out over the bar at the racetrack, and vendors also accept credit cards. However, it’s a good idea to have cash with you, just in case the communication lines go down and the machines don’t work. Also, note that some vendors charge an additional fee for using credit cards.
Yes. You’ll be given a wristband to show you’ve purchased a ticket when you first arrive. From then on, you can come and go as you please.
General tips for enjoying the event
This is not an exhaustive list, nor will it apply to every person or situation. Use it as a guide and a checklist for things you might need to make your life easier.
- Keep an eye on the weather in the lead-up to the event and what is forecast during the event to ensure you are prepared as possible. Take plenty of warm clothing; if it’s wet, you’ll need wet weather gear. Gumboots would also be the best choice for footwear.
- If you are a light sleeper or glamping, having some earplugs with you is a good idea. The nightly entertainment and bar don’t close until midnight. And, as someone who glamped last year, I can testify to the party continuing back at camp well after this time.
- Take and wear sunscreen and hats. Use a flynet if required. Sunglasses will help to keep the sun and dust out of your eyes.
- The winds can be quite fierce, so using a good lip balm regularly can save you from having very sore lips.
- Have insect repellent with you, especially for nighttime
- Drink plenty of water. We know it’s great to have a huge party out here, but the air can be very dry, and this, along with big days in the outdoors plus drinking, can lead to dehydration.
- There are several public facilities on the ground, including showers. If you plan to shower here, take a small bag to hold your belongings and some flip-flops for the shower. Regular campers, caravanners and motorhomers will have all of this covered.
- Data coverage out here can be hit and miss. If you haven’t got Telstra or Starlink/satellite, your chances of making a phone call are slim to non-existent. I usually use Optus, but for this trip, I purchased a Boost prepaid sim to pop into my phone. Boost is the only provider, other than Telstra itself, that uses the whole Telstra network. Other Telstra providers like Aldi Mobile and Belong, while Telstra associates, do not have access to the full network. It’s also known that when 3,000 plus people come to town, the basic internet services already here are put under enormous pressure. You can almost see the bandwidth decline as all caravans and motorhomes roll into town. The moment they leave, data access becomes available again.
- The caravan park and the hotel in town both have wifi access.
- If you lose something – and let’s face it, it happens in a crowd like this – your best bet is to head to the merchandise tent and see if someone has handed it in.
- Head to the merchandise tent early so you can pick up your favourite items in the size you want and then wear them for the rest of the event.
Other things to do in Boulia
Learn about the Min Min lights
On the eastern approach to Boulia, you’ll come across several references to the (in)famous Min Min light. The area has long been the subject of many stories about the mysterious light that has been seen, hovering, following and stalking. It’s a story told for over one hundred years involving hotels, graveyards, a lone stockman and his horse.
If you are coming into Boulia from the east, stop at the ruins of the old hotel and graveyard to learn more about the history of the Min Min.
I won’t give any more details away, but if time permits, be sure to head over to the Min Min Encounter and Visitor Information Centre on the main street. Here you can participate in a 45-minute interactive show that will uncover the mystery of the Min Min lights for you. Bookings are recommended, especially during event times.
Location: 22 Herbert Street
Go shopping at the Waddi Tree Store
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first heard this name. My answer now is to expect a bit of everything. Named after one of Australia’s rarest plants, this is the general store-cum-souvenir-outlet in the town. Here you’ll find every item possible with a Boulia logo; think beer coolers, t-shirts, hats, shopping bags and more. There’s camping and outdoor equipment and even old motorbikes.
Pro tip: you can find the last known Corroboree Tree – a Waddi Tree – behind the Boulia State School.
Location: Opposite the Australian Hotel – Boulia Highway
Check out the 3D pedestrian crossing
Sydney has recently commenced rolling out 3D pedestrian crossings to improve safety. Long before this initiative was unveiled, Boulia was the first town in Australia to have a 3D pedestrian crossing. Check it out at the front of the Boulia State School.
Location: Templeton Street
Catch some yellow belly
It’s common to find the local kids fishing from the Burke River bridge or swimming in the cooling waters below. If you’ve got time, try your luck fishing for yellow belly here.
Visit the Boulia Heritage Complex
The Boulia Heritage Complex gives visitors an overview of the town’s history, dating back to its prehistoric times when ancient creatures swam in the Eromanga Sea that covered most of the outback and dinosaurs roamed the lands.
Here you’ll only find machinery, tools, artefacts and the original stone house built in 1888 by resident and early storekeeper James Edward Jones. The local indigenous culture of the Pitta Pitta People is also explored here.
Location: Pituri Street
Take your photo at the Red Stump
You’ll find the old stump in the middle of the main road into Boulia. As per the words on the sign, it’s a marker that validates you are on the edge of the Simpson Desert.
See the water tank and windmill
If you look up just a little bit as you drive into Boulia from either direction, you’ll see the incredible water tank and windmill. Once an important part of the town’s water supply, the water tank has a mural painted on it; the windmill, always impressive in outback towns, stands over nine metres high. They are also a good reference point for finding the airport too.
Pro tip: Come here at sunset for an amazing backdrop to your photos.
Work out at the Sports and Aquatic Centre
The town might be small, but it has an impressive sports, recreation and aquatic centre, just a short distance from the town and en route to the racetrack. There is also a waterpark next door, perfect for the Boulia heat. Access by visitors is possible and general admission tickets can be bought upon entry.
Location: Burke Street
Whether you are planning to go to the Boulia Camel Races just for the event or you are going to make it part of a longer trip, one thing is definite; if you have planned well, you’ll love being out there.
WATCH NOW >>To help you get into the spirit of the races, watch John Arnold’s ode to the Boulia Camel Races in his song, Desert Fever. It will have you planning a trip before you get to the end.
Travelling in Australia? You can read more of our stories here.
For regional Queensland day trips, read these guides:
A detailed guide to the best things to see and do in Stanthorpe Qld
Stanthorpe wine tours: Visit some of the Granite Belt wineries