From Toowoomba, 125 kilometres west of Brisbane, the Warrego Highway leads north west into the Queensland outback, in the traditional lands of the Barunggam and Mandandanji peoples, past small towns and villages where the wooden "Queenslander" houses can still be seen, until, 350 kilometres from Toowoomba, Roma is reached. This town serves an agricultural region and gas field. It was named in 1862 by Sir George Brown, the Governor of Queensland after his wife, Countess Diamantina Georgina Roma.
The Carnavon Development Road leads 260 kilometres north from the town of Roma through the real outback of Queensland to the junction with the Dawson and Gregory Highways. About two thirds of the way is Carnarvon Gorge, a deep canyon, the result of erosion in the sandstone plateau on the Great Dividing Range. There are palms and ferns on the canyon floor, a profusion of wildlife and galleries of Aboriginal paintings. Further north is the town of Emerald where the Gregory Highway crosses the Capricorn Highway, leading 410 kilometres west to Longreach. On the way there are small outback towns like Jericho and Barcaldine; the latter is known as "Garden City of the West". because of its citrus fruits orchards, irrigated by water from good artesian bores. The town was established in 1886 and was the centre of a strike by shearers, an event that eventually lead to the formation of the Australian Labor Party.
Longreach is known for its Stockman's Hall of Fame and the birthplace of the Queensland And Northern Territory Air Service, or Qantas, Australia's national airline, in 1921, with a flight to Winton. It is now a town of 3,500 inhabitants, making it, after Mount Isa, the region largest town. The area, traditionally belonging to the Iningai people, was settled in the 1870s and the town, named for the "long reach" of the Thomson River, gazetted in 1887. From Longreach the Landsborough or Matilda Highway leads 175 kilometres north west to Winton, a real outback town of 1200 people, famous as the place where Banjo Paterson's "Waltzing Matilda" was first publicly performed in 1895. The song had been written at Dagwood Station, 140 kilometres north west of Winton, where a shearer had committed suicide. The song has become almost like Australia's unofficial national anthem.
From Winton the Matilda Highway continues 342 kilometres to Cloncurry, but another road, the Kennedy Developmental Road loops to Mount Isa via Boulia. It is almost 380 kilometres to Boulia, and this stretch of road is also named the Min Min Way: it is famous for the "Min Min lights", mysterious glowing lights that many people claim to have seen during the night. It is said to resemble a fluorescent ball, floating through the air. It got its name from the Min Min Hotel near Boulia where it was first seen above the nearby graveyard. The little town of Boulia is on the Burke River, where the explorers Burke and Wills apparently refilled their water bags in 1861 on their ill-fated expedition. Pastoralists later settled on these lands belonging to the Pitta-Pitta Aboriginal people and the town was established in the 1870s.