There are many new and old ways to enjoy the waters of the Great Artesian Basin in outback Queensland.

Story Kirsty McKenzie  Photos Ken Brass

As the sun rises on the lap swimmers in the 50m pool at the St George Aquatic Centre, the crisp autumn air hits the 34°C water in the adjacent thermal pool, sending steam swirling gently. It’s the beginning of the tourist season in southern and western Queensland, and increasing numbers of travellers are plotting trips around enjoying the mineral-rich waters of the Great Artesian Basin.

The trend has inspired Outback Queensland Tourism to create the Wellness Way, a 2,000km route from St George in the south to Mt Isa in the north. Those with leisurely itineraries could complete all 24 opportunities for getting into hot water. However, a week-long meander through the southern and central-west of the state will provide a good sampler. The route also provides an opportunity to see some of the remaining free-flowing bores. In 1989, the Federal Government established a program to cap artesian bores and replace open bore drains with piping in a bid to restore water pressure to the basin and reduce water wastage.

This story excerpt is from Issue #155

Outback Magazine: June/July 2024