Starlight’s Lookout

S 23’05.039, E 144’26.404

Camped on this very rise and surrounded by 1000 head of stolen cattle, a handful of the outback’s most wanted cattle thieves sit huddled around their swags. The infamous Captain Starlight and his men gathered together 1000 stolen cattle on a lonely Jumpup (Mesa), north-east of Longreach.

Today you can experience the legend of Starlight and the wonder of Jumpup Country by climbing Starlight’s Lookout. Be rewarded with fantastic views and sensational sunset photo opportunities.

The legend of Starlight?
While the legend of Captain Starlight is largely contested, it is believed he and his men gathered together 1000 stolen cattle at this Lookout and split them into three groups to avoid a suspicious dust cloud. An epic journey followed through largely unexplored country, along the Barcoo River, Cooper Creek and Strezlecki Track toward South Australia. Around 800 miles into their journey Starlight was forced to sell a white pedigree bull at Hill Hill Station to purchase supplies. Carrying on to Blanchwater station, Starlight was unaware of his dire error. Here he sold the rest of the herd for approximately $10,000; however, he received only a note promising payment in six months. By this time three Bowen Downs stockmen were already well down the Cooper on the trail of the mob. They soon found the white bull. Starlight was arrested in 1872 and tried in Roma a year later. Despite strong evidence, including the distinctive bull which had been shipped back to Queensland, the jury voted “not guilty”, to which a stunned judge said “I thank God that verdict is yours, gentlemen and not mine.”

How are Mesas formed?
Mesas are formed by weathering and erosion. While some rocks can withstand weathering, weaker types of rocks will erode away, leaving the more resistant rocks higher than their surroundings. This process is called ‘differential erosion’. The most resistant rock types include sandstone, conglomerate, quartzite, chert, limestone, lava flows and sills. Lava flows and sills, in particular, are very resistant to weathering and erosion, and often form the flat top, or caprock, of a mesa. The less resistant rock layers consist of softer rocks such as shale, that weathers more easily.

How can I experience Jumpup country?

Climb Starlight’s lookout: Located approximately 40 minutes drive from Longreach, Starlight’s Lookout can be accessed from unsealed Muttaburra-Westside Road. Suitable footwear and reasonable fitness is required.

Cawnpore Lookout: Amidst this stunning landscape of red plains and jumpups, discover the trackways of the world’s only recorded dinosaur stampede. These prints have remained frozen in time for about 95 million years.

For more information
Visit the Longreach Visitor Information Centre website (Phone: 07 4658 4150).


Heading West
Visit Winton’s Waltzing Matilda Centre for a dose of Australian folklore and the rustic mining settlement of Opalton to search for treasure. Stop for a cold one at Middleton’s pub before admiring the mesa at Cawnpore Lookout. Browse the marine reptile fossils at Boulia’s Stonehouse Museum and have yourself a Min Min Encounter. Are these eerie lights a result of geological forces or something more sinister?Your next geo-stop, heading west:
Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackways
Heading East
Heading toward the Main Dividing Range enjoy the therapeutic properties of the Ilfracombe mineral spa, a result of the Great Artesian Basin. Keep your eye out for fossilized wood in Alpha, and pass through Blackall, where the Drummond Basin supports a prosperous coal mining industry. Fossick the Sapphire Gemfields for volcanic treasures, and take a guided mine tour.Your next geo-stop, heading east:
Artesian Spa, Ilfracombe