Gail Liston has hit the road and distilled her extensive travel knowledge to bring us the 20 Top Tours from all around Australia.

For eight days you can crisscross the heartland of Queensland’s rural community from urban Brisbane to way-out-there Cunnamulla, connecting with the true blue Aussie Outback of 2009. You can be a jackaroo, or jillaroo if you wish, on a sheep station, join a ghoulish tour of a country graveyard, kayak down the Warrego River, soak in an ancient artesian spa, fossick for opals, peer through a telescope at the Southern Cross or meet up with local larrikins on a pub crawl through Cunnamulla.

The Essence of the Outback is a no holds barred invasion of some of the last bastions of frontier Australia, where sheep are still rounded up by alert, keen-eyed kelpies and the promise of a jam-packed slice of the Aussie countryside is filled with enriching and often confronting situations.

Intrepid Travel cites this tour as more Aussie than a red back on a toilet seat, and you need to be prepared to get your hands dirty, whether its shearing sheep or connecting with larger-than-life characters to enjoy a game of barefoot bowls while sipping on a stubbie and downing some dinkum Aussie tucker.

Brag Factor // Share a beer and yarn with the locals at the Eulo Queen Hotel and learn about the history of Isabel, the Eulo Queen.

Details // Tour by Intrepid Travel, $2215 per person. 1300 364 512,

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