The Natural Sciences Loop in south-west outback Queensland covers it all: astronomy, geology, hydrology, meteorology, biology, paleontology and history – number 55 on Australian Traveller’s ‘100 amazing places you haven’t been to yet‘. Nominated by: Jenn J McLeod, novelist.

Fiction author Jenn J McLeod is living the dream, the one that has no fixed address and no plans to stop travelling around Australia.

She’s only just started her journey, but she has one place that is firmly on the top of her list: a little-known, self-drive trail that loops through south-west Queensland taking in such iconic outback towns as Cunnamulla, Noccundra, Quilpie and Charleville.

“While selling everything I owned has been, in a way, quite liberating [McLeod has downsized from a five-bedroom home on a country property to a caravan], I feel a bit insignificant,” she explains. “A small speck in a big country.”

McLeod reckons the best way to come to grips with the country she is now “free to roam” is the Natural Sciences Loop, which promises to deliver a mix of “astronomy, geology, hydrology, meteorology, biology, paleontology and history” through its many attractions along the way. “I think it will help me better understand this land,” says McLeod.

But it’s the tiny town at the heart of the loop, Toompine, that she’s most keen on. “I’m drawn to places of extremes. I love being able to say we’ve seen the biggest this, the smallest that. So why not add visiting the smallest town?”

That’d be Toompine, alright – “they call it ‘the pub without a town’. With a population of only two I’m guessing the Toompine Hotel (circa 1893) would make Friday night drinks a lot less crowded than what I’ve been used to,” she laughs.

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Even less overwhelming is Cheepie – population, one.

“At its peak, as a Cobb & Co. change station, Cheepie had a police station, blacksmith, railway station, tent boarding houses, butcher shop, bakery and two vegetable gardens. All that remains is a private residence and one long-time resident.”

One to remember, we’d imagine. for more information.


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