The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

Outback ready for visitors

- JEREMY PIERCE

THOUSANDS of travellers are heading west as the outback Queensland tourism season cranks into gear.

The end of the stinking hot summer heralds the start of the outback tourism season and with internatio­nal borders closed, hordes of Queensland­ers are travelling to the wide open spaces.

At Winton, the country’s dinosaur tourism capital, more than 3500 visitors have swelled the town’s population for the long-awaited return of the Way Out West Fest.

After suffering the same fate as festivals across the country during last year’s coronaviru­s lockdown, Way Out West has returned this year with a stellar music line-up featuring Sheppard, Lee Kernaghan, Daryl Braithwait­e, Busby Marou, Beccy Cole and Adam Harvey.

It’s the second big outback event in as many weeks following last weekend’s Easter in the Country festival in Roma.

Outback Queensland CEO Denise Brown said there was a good “vibe” throughout the region.

“It’s really buoyant,” she said. “There’s a lot of visitors coming through, there’s been rain so the country is looking really beautiful. The mood is really positive.”

Less reliant on internatio­nal travel than some other regions in the state, outback Queensland recorded reasonable numbers last year and with the borders still closed, Ms Brown said they were hoping to capture a new generation of travellers and make them fall in love with the bush.

“We’re really hoping to capture that family market that might not have come out here previously, but if they come and have a great time we’re sewing the seeds for the next generation of travellers,” she said.

Perennial crowd favourites and Winton locals The Crackup Sisters have entertaine­d the crowds all week ahead of this weekend’s festival finale.

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