Cobbold Gorge, The Savannah Way, Queensland © Tourism and Events Queensland
Australian experiences to embrace your inner child
Sometimes travel stirs up emotions we haven’t felt in a long time. These Australian experiences will take you right back to the glory days of your childhood.
By Ute Junker
If there’s one thing children know how to do well, it’s living in the moment. They let themselves get swept away by whatever they are experiencing – whether they are being dazzled by a natural wonder, or simply revelling in the chaos of a water fight. Try one of these travel experiences to recapture some of those exuberant emotions.
Decode a dinosaur stampede in Queensland
Where: Lark Quarry Conservation Park, a three-hour drive west of Longreach.
Join in a real-life detective story where the clues are 95 million years old at the jaw-dropping Dinosaur Stampede National Monument. There is something thrilling about any dinosaur site – and outback Queensland has some great options – but Lark Quarry Conservation Park is the only place in the world where you can see the tracks of stampeding dinosaurs.
In addition to getting up close to these fossilised footprints, you will also learn how researchers pieced together prehistoric events to determine that a top-of-the-food-chain predator sent almost 200 dinosaurs fleeing across a long-vanished mudflat. Fun fact: It was the discovery of the footprints at Lark Quarry that inspired the stampede scene in the 1993 Steven Spielberg blockbuster Jurassic Park.
How to experience it: Visit the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument as part of a tour taking in Queensland’s heartland towns.
Get drenched in a Northern Territory water fight
Where: Alice Springs, Northern Territory.
The Henley On Todd Regatta only happens once a year, but when it rolls around, the Northern Territory desert city of Alice Springs sure makes the most of it. Held every August, this legendary event attracts around 4,000 revellers to join the party as a series of colourful races are held in a dry riverbed.
The highlight of the day is the Battle of the Boats, in which the “boats” – actually converted four-wheel drives – spray each other with copious plumes of coloured water. It’s no surprise that much of the water also rains down on the crowd as they cheer on their favourite team. The audience also gets to determine the winner – whichever team gets the loudest cheer on the decibel-meter scores the title.
Paddle through a Queensland outback gorge
Where: Cobbold Gorge, a six-hour drive from Cairns.
Channel the inspiring feeling of childlike awe at Cobbold Gorge, an astounding expanse of sandstone spread over 80 square kilometres (31 square miles) that is one of outback Queensland’s best-kept secrets. Take a guided stand-up paddleboard tour, either early in the morning or late in the afternoon, to marvel at the gorge’s colourful walls as they soar high above you. With the gorge narrowing to just two metres (6.5 feet) at points, you can even spot the seashells trapped in the rock walls; relics of the time when this land was buried beneath a prehistoric sea. The silence, broken only by birdsong and by the splash of your paddle, heightens this wondrous experience.