One: “If you want to see the ‘real’ outback you need to visit Central Australia”
There’s no need to travel to Central Australia when you can experience all that the Aussie Outback has to offer in your backyard. Most teachers are surprised to learn just how much students can benefit from experiencing Outback Queensland. Students can discover Aboriginal heritage and culture at the Wanpa-rda Matilda Outback Education Centre in Barcaldine or explore the history of Australia’s leading national airline, Qantas, by visiting the amazing, interactive Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach. Students can engage in the realities of outback life at the School of Distance Education in both Charleville and Longreach or learn about the emergency medical assistance provided by the Royal Flying Doctors Service throughout Australia. Or why not let them gain an insight into Australia’s Natural History when fossicking for dinosaur fossils at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs in Winton. It’s all there: you just need to experience it for yourself!
Two: “There is more of an incentive available to send students to Canberra”
Tourism and Events Queensland now offers students in grades 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9 a fantastic incentive to visit Outback Queensland! Teachers can take advantage of the Outback Queensland Education Subsidy Scheme and receive up to $130 per student attending whilst being further supported by the Outback Queensland Education Handbook, which aligns themes of Outback Queensland to the Australian school curriculum. The scheme was established to encourage teachers to take their students to Outback Queensland and integrate its rich history and heritage into school learning. More information is available at http://teq.queensland.com/en-AU/Destinations/Outback-Queensland/Outback-Education-Subsidy-Scheme
Three: “The only option is to camp and I don’t like camping.”
If you just can’t live without your creature comforts then there are several options available for every group size in Outback Queensland. The Wanpa-rda Matilda Outback Education Centre in Barcaldine & Longreach Pastoral College both offer bunk-style dormitory accommodation with fresh, healthy catering packages including breakfast, morning tea, lunch and dinner. Charleville also has some great accommodation choices for school groups. The Bailey Bar Caravan Park has a variety of cabin options for groups and can also provide hearty camp oven catering to enhance your outback experience. They also offer free WiFi! If you have a smaller group and want a little more luxury then you can’t go past The Rocks Motel in Charleville with twin & triple share rooms and an onsite restaurant for all of your catering needs. Lastly, if you’re looking for something a little different for your students then there are a wide variety of farm stays and working stations dotted throughout Outback Queensland that are willing and eager to host school groups and show them a little outback hospitality.
Four: “The outback is just endless red dirt with nothing to see”
With a million-star rating, Outback Queensland abounds with natural wonders. From the greatest stampede story in Australia’s history at Lark Quarry to the native flora and fauna that flourishes along the shore of the Thompson and Warrego Rivers there is so much more to Outback Queensland than meets the eye. Discover the magic of the night sky at the Cosmos Centre in Charleville or enrich the student’s outback experience by boarding the only paddle wheeler west of the Great Divide for a sunset cruise along the Thompson River. The local towns are steeped in Australia’s pioneering history, you can even take the students on a pilgrimage to uncover the legend of Banjo Paterson with a visit to Combo Waterhole, said to be home of the jolly swagman story.
Five: “It’s too far to drive and the kids will get bored”
Leave the iPods at home, throw back the curtains, and get students to watch how the landscape changes from the city to the bush as you embark on your outback adventure. You needn’t travel far to start experiencing the ‘real’ outback. It’s a great idea to break the journey and stay a night in regional towns such as Roma to ignite the student’s interest in the current mining boom in the Surat Basin or spend a night with some great outback hosts Bonus Downs Farmstay in Mitchell. There’s so much to see, its not all about the destination is also about the journey.