An adventure hopping across small towns in the Outback

Join Noel Philips on an epic adventure as he hops across small towns in the Outback of Australia. The journey begins in Brisbane, where Noel boards a tiny turbo prop plane for a 24-hour, 12-stop flight to Cairns. This unique flight, known as the Rex and Milk run, offers essential services to workers in the Outback and showcases the stunning landscapes of the Australian Outback. From Toowoomba to Charleville to Quilpie, each stop provides a different experience, highlighting the importance of aviation in connecting remote communities. After overnighting in Mount Isa and enjoying dinner at Giuseppe’s Canteen, the adventure continues to the North Coast of Australia, with stops in Dumagi, Mornington Island, Normanton, and finally Cairns. The flight, operated by Rex (Regional Express), offers snacks, water, coffee, and even salted caramel white chocolate cookies. Experience the thrill of flying to remote communities and marvel at the beauty of the Outback in this captivating journey.

The Adventure Begins: Flying Across the Outback

14 Hours on a Tiny Plane

You’ve embarked on an exciting adventure flying across the Australian Outback. The journey begins with a 14-hour flight on a tiny plane. While it may seem like a long time to spend on a small aircraft, the experience is sure to be unforgettable.

12 Stops from Brisbane to Cairns

But wait, there’s more! This is not your average flight from Brisbane to Cairns. Instead, you’ll be making a total of 12 stops along the way. That means you’ll have the opportunity to explore small towns in the Outback, each with its own unique charm. This flight is known as the REX and Milk Run, operated on behalf of the Queensland government. It’s a vital service for those working in the remote areas of the Outback.

Exploring Small Towns in the Outback

One of the highlights of this adventure is the chance to get up close and personal with the small towns in the Outback. The first stop is Toowoomba, a town that may ring a bell with fans of the 90s hit song “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba. From there, you’ll venture to Charleville and Quilpie, experiencing the vastness and beauty of the Outback landscapes.

Exploring the Outback: From Toowoomba to Charleville

First Stop: Toowoomba

Toowoomba, initially known as Brisbane West, is a town located about 80 miles west of Brisbane. It offers a change of scenery from the built-up areas of the city, as you start to witness the true Australian Outback. The flight to Toowoomba is just a short 25 minutes, but it marks the beginning of your epic adventure across the Outback.

A Brief Stay in Charleville

The next leg of the journey takes you to Charleville, a town that offers a taste of the Outback lifestyle. With a population of approximately 3,000, it may be small, but it has its own unique charm. This stop gives you a chance to stretch your legs, explore the town, and take in the surrounding beauty of the Outback.

Discovering Quilpie

Quilpie, an even tinier town with a population of around 600, is next on the itinerary. Here, you’ll truly feel like you’re in the heart of the Outback. With nothing but red desert as far as the eye can see, you’ll get a sense of the vastness and ruggedness of the Australian landscape. Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of this remote town before continuing your journey.

Flying for the Outback: A Service for Remote Areas

Essential Flights for Outback Workers

The flight you’re on serves as an essential mode of transportation for many workers in the Outback. As you look around the plane, you’ll notice that a significant portion of the passengers are heading to work in the remote areas. This flight provides a lifeline for those who need to travel to and from the Outback, connecting them with the rest of Queensland.

The Beauty of Outback Landscapes

One of the perks of flying across the Outback is the breathtaking landscapes you’ll witness from the air. As you soar above the vast stretches of desert, you’ll encounter a mesmerizing mix of red soil, desert vegetation, and unique rock formations. The beauty of the Outback is unparalleled, and this flight allows you to appreciate it from a bird’s-eye view.

Brief Stops and Continuation

The flight operates under the REX and Milk Run service, making brief stops at various towns along the way. These stops not only provide essential services for passengers but also allow for a glimpse into the lifestyles and communities of the Outback. Each leg of the journey adds to the sense of adventure, as you venture further into remote areas and experience the true essence of the Outback.

The Flight Experience: Saab 340 and Onboard Facilities

The Small and Cramped Saab 340 Aircraft

The aircraft used for this journey is a Saab 340, known for its compact size. While it may be small and cramped compared to larger planes, it’s essential for navigating the remote airstrips of the Outback. You might find yourself seated in tight quarters, but the experience is all part of the adventure.

The Toilet Experience

One thing to note about the Saab 340 is the restroom facilities. Due to the size limitations of the aircraft, the toilet is small and can be a little cramped. Additionally, be prepared for a strong smell, as there’s limited airflow in the restroom. However, don’t let this deter you from enjoying the overall experience of flying across the Outback.

A Snack Service with Limited Options

During the flight, you’ll have access to a snack service, albeit with limited options. The airline provides cookies as a snack, which might not seem like a full meal, but it’s enough to keep you going. Remember, the focus of this adventure is not on gourmet dining but rather the exploration of remote towns and communities in the Outback.

Adventures in Remote Towns: Birdsville, Boolia, and Badouri

Birdsville: A Remote Outback Town

Birdsville, a remote town in the middle of the Outback, awaits your arrival. With its unique position in the desert, surrounded by red sand dunes, this is a place like no other. While it may be a small town, it offers a fascinating insight into Outback life, enticing adventurers like yourself with its rugged charm.

Exploring Boolia’s Charm

Next on the itinerary is Boolia, a town that captures the essence of the Outback lifestyle. With its sparse population and vast landscapes, Boolia allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Australian countryside. Take the opportunity to connect with locals and learn about their experiences living in such a remote area.

Discovering Badouri

The final stop before reaching Mount Isa is Badouri, another remote town in the Outback. Here, you’ll continue your exploration of the unique landscapes and communities that make up the heart of Australia. Each stop adds to the authenticity of your adventure, allowing you to connect with the true spirit of the Outback.

Mount Isa: City Built Around a Lead Mine

Arrival in Mount Isa

After a series of exciting stops, you’ll finally arrive in Mount Isa. This city, built around a lead mine, showcases a different side of the Outback. As you disembark in Mount Isa, you’ll be greeted by a vibrant community bustling with locals and visitors alike.

Limited Attractions in Mount Isa

While Mount Isa may not offer the same remote charm as the small towns you’ve visited, it still has its own unique attractions. The highlight of the city is undoubtedly the lead mine, which plays a significant role in the local economy. Take the time to learn about the mining industry and its impact on the region.

Accommodation and Dining in Mount Isa

For your overnight stay in Mount Isa, you’ll find comfortable accommodations at the Ibis hotel. Relax and unwind after a long day of flying, ready to continue your adventure the next day. As for dining options, why not try Giuseppe’s Canteen, an Italian restaurant that serves delicious meals inspired by the flavors of the Outback.

Day Two: Heading to Cairns

Continuing the Adventure

After a restful night in Mount Isa, it’s time to continue your adventure to Cairns. This is the second day of the milk run flight, and you can expect even more excitement and breathtaking views as you head towards the North Coast of Australia.

Overview of Saab 340 Flight

As you board the Saab 340 aircraft again, you’ll notice the familiar small size and cozy seating arrangements. Despite the limitations, the flight offers a unique perspective on the Australian Outback, giving you the opportunity to connect with remote communities and witness the beauty of the landscape.

Stops at Dumagi, Mornington Island, and Normanton

The flight from Mount Isa to Cairns includes stops at Dumagi, Mornington Island, and Normanton. Each stop provides a glimpse into the diversity and richness of the region. From Dumagi’s picturesque landscape to Mornington Island’s lush tropical paradise, you’ll be captivated by the beauty of each destination. Normanton, the final stop before Cairns, marks the end of your extraordinary Outback adventure.

Rex Airlines and Onboard Services

The Airline for the Outback

The flight you’ve been on is operated by Rex Airlines, known for its commitment to serving remote communities in the Outback. Rex provides an invaluable service, connecting these areas to the rest of Queensland. By choosing Rex, you’ve supported their mission to keep these communities connected.

Providing Refreshments and Comfort

While flying with Rex, you can expect industry-standard services onboard. The flight attendants ensure that passengers are comfortable throughout the journey, providing water, coffee, and other refreshing beverages. As you relax in your seat, take a moment to appreciate the dedication of the crew in making your experience as comfortable as possible.

Snacks and Crew Announcements

Alongside the beverage service, snacks are also available. One such treat is the salted caramel white chocolate cookies, adding a touch of sweetness to your flight. Additionally, the crew keeps you informed with regular announcements, providing updates and ensuring you have all the necessary information for your journey.

Unique Experiences: Mornington Island and Indigenous Culture

A Tropical Paradise: Mornington Island

Mornington Island, a lush tropical paradise, offers a unique experience during your Outback adventure. With its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant marine life, this destination is a dream come true for nature lovers and beachgoers. Take the opportunity to soak up the sun, explore the island, and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds you.

Rich Indigenous Culture

In addition to its natural wonders, Mornington Island is also known for its rich Indigenous culture. With a population of over a thousand people, the island is home to diverse communities, each with its own traditions and stories. Immerse yourself in the Indigenous culture, visit art centers, and learn about their history and heritage.

Exploring Remote Communities

Throughout your journey, you’ve had the privilege of exploring remote communities in the Outback. These experiences have not only allowed you to witness the beauty of the landscape but also to connect with the people who call these places home. By engaging with the locals, you’ve gained insights into their daily lives and formed a deeper appreciation for the Outback’s significance.

Conclusion: Unforgettable Adventures in the Outback

Unique Experiences and Sense of Adventure

As your adventure across the Outback comes to a close, take a moment to reflect on the unique experiences and sense of adventure you’ve gained. From flying in a tiny plane for hours to exploring remote towns and witnessing the beauty of the landscape, this journey will stay with you for a lifetime. Embrace the memories and treasure the stories you’ve gathered along the way.

Connecting Remote Communities

Aviation plays a crucial role in connecting remote communities in the Outback. The flight you’ve experienced is not only a means of transportation but also a lifeline for those who live and work in these areas. The importance of aviation in bridging the gap between remote towns and the rest of Queensland cannot be overstated, and you’ve had the privilege of being part of that connection.

Impacts of Aviation in the Outback

This adventure has shed light on the impacts of aviation in the Outback. By providing essential services to remote areas, aviation enables communities to thrive and grow. It promotes economic development, facilitates travel and trade, and fosters a sense of unity among individuals and communities spread across vast distances. The significance of aviation in the Outback should not be underestimated.

As you disembark from your final stop in Cairns, take a moment to appreciate the journey you’ve been on. The hours spent on a tiny plane, the stops in remote towns, and the connections made with the people and landscapes of the Outback are all part of a truly unforgettable adventure. Embrace the spirit of exploration and carry it with you as you continue to seek out new experiences and connections in your travels.