If you are travelling from Winton to Mt Isa, there are two route choices you can take.
The first being via Middleton and Boulia for spectacular scenery, historic sites, wildlife and the wonderous Min Min Lights. The second is along the more worn path of the Landsborough Hwy via McKinlay and the Walkabout Creek Hotel . Both roads are sealed and perfect for campervan travel. We chose the former, and were not disappointed at all. The scenery and wildlife was spectacular, however the Middleton Pub was the hidden gem. The owners of one of the most isolated pubs in Queensland, Les and Val are very welcoming.
After a day behind the wheel, we decided we’d stay at the Hilton Hotel – a free overnight camp opposite the old pub. The sign reads: “Vacancy, no air-conditioning, no TV, no pool, no charge”, but it does have a spectacular room with a view! Les even has a fire place there to keep travellers toasty warm. Outside the pub is one of the former Cobb and Co coaches, which is a reminder this was once a staging post. The small town that grew up around the hotel has since disappeared, but Les and Val are still going strong, having been at the pub now for over 10 years, and in the area for many. Both are very welcoming, and a cold beer is on the bar quick smart as we enter the old pub. The walls are lined with photographs from the region and a few opals are even for sale.
There’s no denying that it must be tough at times living in an isolated location, and they welcome people to stay a while and share a yarn or two of what life is like for them.
All sorts of people popped in while we stayed for a few beers and a delicious dinner cooked by Val. They have a ‘special meal of the day’ for a little more than a tenner, which was good honest home cooking – excellent value. Corned beef and vegies for us.We enjoyed chatting with a road train driver who popped in for this coffee and two pies – his rig was 50 metres long. At the same time, one of the local landowners was also passing, so popped in for a beer. We wondered how much land he had….‘oh, a million acres or so’….WOW! He can run anywhere from 2000 – 12000 head of cattle, depending on the season, but generally it’ s between 10000 – 12000. We also found out from the road train driver and property owner that there are usually 12 – 13 head of cattle loaded per deck. In times of drought or stressed cattle, they would usually drop that to 11 – 12 head of cattle incase one falls, it can then get up again. The road train driver makes a huge difference to the state of the cattle on arrival at their destination.
We also met surveyors and road workers, working in the area. They were staying in the motel units out the back of the Middleton Pub.
The scenery around the pub really is quite spectacular. Les also told us about where you can see a natural rock bridge from the road…but hey, you’ll have to pop in and say g’day to Les and Val to find out about that beauty. Ask him to show you the pictures of the camels too…he’ll know what what you mean. And tell him the team at Gallivanting Oz say ‘hi’. Enjoy!
This post has been updated August 2017 to ensure that the content of this blog is still relevant.