Big Red Bash

In Travel
5 August 2016
5 min read

My friend Ben decided to take a 4 tone converted ambulance into one of the world’s biggest sand dunes…driving all the way from Brisbane to Birdsville for this year’s iconic event, the Big Red Bash – a music festival in the middle of the Australian outback that attracts thousands of people from all over the country.

Birdsville is one of Queensland’s most renowned and remote towns, famous for a tradition of outback adventure and old pioneering spirit. It is literally in the middle of nowhere.

With a resident population of 115 the small town hosts a pub, bakery, caravan park, two service stations, general store, and not much else.

While it’s possible to catch a small plane to Birdsville, for most the fun part is the adventure getting there – it’s a 3 day drive from Brisbane to the Simpson Desert.

‘Big Red’ is the 40 metre high sand dune on the edge of the Simpson Desert. Festival camping usually takes place on the dry lake bed to the east of Big Red – but recent desert precipitation(!) meant festival goers had to set up in town this year. This meant luxuries like fresh bread and cold beer were easily accessible (happy Ben).

Campers have to bring everything – water, firewood and food – so travelling light isn’t really an option.

7000 people made the journey to the 2016 Big Red Bash, rocking-out to some great Aussie bands including Jimmy Barnes, Paul Kelly, Troy Cassar-Daley and The Angels.

Taking the opportunity to visit the far corners of Queensland – Hadden, Poeppel and Cameron Corners – Ben and his mates Nick, Andrew and Stewart drove 5600kms over 18 days.

The recent rain meant Lake Eyre was high on their list and they took a scenic flight to see it in all its green glory (it floods every 10 years or so, and only fills four times a century).

Ben had read about the very exclusive membership of Lake Eyre Yacht Club which is only awarded to those who have ‘truly faced the challenge of the Lake’ (paddled or sailed a vessel). Needless to say his mission to get an inflatable boat onto the lake was aborted after a long, hot and very muddy trek to try and reach the water.

I thought Ben’s photos were awesome so I asked if I could share them with you…

This adventure has been added to my bucket list – for now let’s enjoy these stunning photos 🙂

Birdsville Big Red Bash takes place 4-6 July in 2017 – do you want to go now? Leave me a comment!

biopicIf you enjoyed this blog post and want to read more, ask the virtual postman to deliver you my ShanzDay journalings. I post heaps of my photos on Instagram, and I’d love you to join me in my Facebook lounge 

Eat Well Travel Often my friend!    Shannon    #travelandnoms


The converted ambulance made it through the desert. All images thanks to Ben Burford.


Desert sunset


My friend Ben on the way to the Big Red Bash


Ben, Stewart, Andrew and Nick had an epic desert adventure

birdsville bakery

Birdsville has a bakery, but not much else. I hear the camel pies are good


7000 people went to the Birdsville Big Red Bash this year


Bogged in the Simpson Desert (which is basically a giant sand dune)


Nothing beats breakfast on the fire


How good are camp fires?


Outback adventures


Lots of top Aussie bands play at the Big Red Bash


The corners of Queensland


Close the door mate!


Makin’ tracks


Amazing desert scenery


Dry as a desert

dessert in the desert

Damper with Nutella



Desert sunsets are pretty special


A little bit dusty


Road trip!


Lake Eyre from the air


The colours of Lake Eyre


A special sight, water in Lake Eyre


Iconic desert shot


Taking in the view


Red earth in the outback


Has anyone seen a lake around here?


Are we there yet?


Paddling on Lake Eyre?


The road of many miles


Burke and Wills county


The colours of Lake Eyre


An epic outback adventure


Ben Burford

Cool thanks for the write up, the lads will be very pleased to see they are famous 🙂


Your photos inspired this blog post, thanks for sharing them. Would love to get to the Big Red Bash next year! I wonder where I can get an old ambulance…

Vaughan Hatcher

awesome trip guys

well done shan!

Ian Clarke

I did see that old ambulance at the Birdsville Hotel at the Bash, simply an awesome trip, we came back across the Simpson after the event to Mt Dare & Alice Springs.


The old ambo did pretty well, though limped back into Brisbane a bit worse for wear! Thanks for leaving your comment Ian, got my fingers crossed I can go next year 🙂
Cheers, Shannon

Bruce Wade

The Big Red Bash was awesome.
Made it there & back to southern NSW in 3 weeks. Vehicle is still covered in red mud . Great adventure.


That red dust gets everywhere! Top effort on your adventure Bruce, sounds like everyone had a great time 🙂


Hey guys, great adventure.
I’m heading to Mt dare via the big bash in 2017.
Anyone keen to do the same.

Trev and Vicki

Nice DMax in the back ground when old ambulance was bogged….it is mine ? was watching ambulance being dug/pulled out …can’t wait till next years Bash


Ha! Well spotted! I think it was inevitable the old ambo ended up in the sand, but I think that’s all part of the fun (with mates on hand to help pull you out). Thanks for saying hi

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