Tourism and Events Queensland

Year of Outback Tourism Guide

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I t's come down to this. A million dollars, right in front of you and ripe for the taking. All you have to do to become an instant millionaire is hit a golf ball. You've done it many a time. You know the drill. Get your breathing settled and your mind focused. Keep the swing steady, not too fast, then accelerate the club down and through the ball in one smooth motion, and follow through. If you've done it properly, your belly button will be pointing at the flag stick ahead on the green and you'll look up in time to see your ball heading for the hole. With widening eyes you watch the ball hit the green just short of the target and roll towards the cup, then fall out of sight. Woohoo! Here's your million bucks. Thanks for coming. That could be you. Hackers always dream about what it must be like to be a pro golfer, playing a shot that could win them a fortune, but few ever get the chance. Now they can experience that pressure and the thrill by signing up for the Million Dollar Hole-In- One Challenge at Mount Isa Golf Club. It is the grand finale of the Outback Queensland Masters, a fantastic new adventure that combines golf and travel, and anyone can have a crack at it, even if they've never played golf before. Actually that's not quite true. Anyone who is a pro, used to be a pro or ever looked like becoming a pro isn't allowed to go after the money. Sweet. The Outback Queensland Masters involves players teeing off in competitions at six different courses throughout June and July, the first being at Roma (June 17- 18), then progressing to Charleville (June 22-23), Longreach (June 29-30), Winton (July 13-14), Boulia (July 22-23) and finishing in the Isa on July 26-28. It's a fun, friendly golf tour for people of all abilities played on some of the most interesting courses in the state. The bonus is that it involves two sorts of driving — the golf kind and the car kind — giving participants the opportunity to experience the many great attractions that await travellers west of the Great Divide. And of course there is the lure of jagging $1 million. To be eligible to win that you have to have played at least two of the other rounds of the competition before the last one at Mount Isa. The players enter into one of two categories — Group 1 is for those with an official Golf Australia Handicap; Group 2 is for those who don't have one. There are prizes to be won in each category — in the former by scoring well while in the latter, winners are decided by a random draw. The more courses you play, the more entries you get in the prize draw. You can enter as an individual or a team, and generally players will be playing with others in their category, meaning the "hit and giggle" mob in Group 2 don't have to be put off by the show ponies in Group 1. The beauty of golf is that the landscape is an integral part of the playing experience. Each course is unique and playing 18 holes anywhere in the world will give you a sense of the place and people you are visiting. The courses used in the Outback Queensland Masters will be unlike any many of the participants will have experienced — the rough could be full of termite mounds, the greens made of compacted sand, or the hazards could be some of the local wildlife. Outback Queensland is already a wonderful place to visit, but the Masters will make it even more interesting. Fore! The beauty of golf is that the landscape is an integral part of the playing experience Tee up for the most fun you've ever had on a golf course. And maybe take home a million bucks. Rod Gordon reports Outback golf courses offer their own challenges. master the art of swing F ew places in Queensland can boast a history as colourful as Karumba, the Gulf town that has experienced three "gold" rushes — one mineral, one arriving on hooves and the other aquatic. These days it is experiencing yet another boom as fishing enthusiasts converge on the region chasing Australia's iconic barramundi. This year, on the weekend of May 4-5, travellers to this Gulf port town can add to Karumba's storied history by attending the inaugural Barra & Blues Festival. Apart from a stellar line-up of musicians headlined by Ash Grunwald and Emily Wurramurra, visitors and locals alike will gather for the official opening of the Les Wilson Barramundi Discovery Centre. Named after long-serving civic leader Les Wilson, who died in 2009, the centre has been built around a barramundi hatchery which is already a TripAdvisor favourite. This is typical of its reviews: "Anyone interested in fish and fishing enough to travel to Karumba will enjoy the hour spent on this tour. Don't miss the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hand-feed a giant barra — it's an unforgettable experience!" And that was posted before the new Discovery Centre was finished. It is the venue for the blues concert and other activities including a free yoga session, market, the Big Barra BBQ and an outdoor screening of the The Blues Brothers. Karumba gained its feet as telegraph station during the Gulf gold rush in the late 1800s, before becoming a major beef processing and shipping centre. Along the way it became a base for flying boats and crocodile hunters, then surged again when it became apparent the Gulf of Carpentaria was full of succulent prawns. While soaking up all that history and enjoying the fishing trip of a lifetime is compelling reason enough to visit Karumba today, getting there is half the adventure. Driving yourself is a good option because the only sealed road to the Gulf coast is the Savannah Way, which winds from Cairns through the Atherton Tablelands and Normanton to Karumba. Alternatively, consider incorporating either the Gulflander or Savannahlander trains into a grand tour of some of the best remote scenery Queensland has to offer. blues-festival in praise of the mighty barramundi GULF COUNTRY YEAR OF Outback TOURISM 2019

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