The Australian Outback Spectacular...
As Spectacular As The Australian Outback?

The Australian Outback Spectacular:
An evening dinner show that, according to the creators, provides the audience with insights into the culture and spirit of the present day Australian Outback.

Or, as the marketing materials put it, "captures the grandeur" of the Outback.
If you believe some of the reviews the show is a much better way of experiencing the spectacular Australian Outback than to go and see the real thing...

Which makes me wonder if any of the reviewers have actually been here. In the real Outback, I mean.

The Australian Outback Spectacular is the latest addition to the collection of Warner Village theme parks along the Queensland's Gold Coast. Its neighbours include Movie World, Sea World, Wet'n Wild Water World amongst others, and I don't need to tell you how highly commercialised the skyscraper and apartment block jungle of the Gold Coast is in general, do I?

So how on earth can you recreate something resembling the endless expanse of the Australian Outback in this environment? Well, no matter what the creators, the marketers and the reviewers say, you can't. But you can create something spectacular...

You Cannot Be Not Impressed
By The Australian Outback Spectacular.

The show is set in an enclosed 1000 seat, sand-covered, rectangular arena. Now imagine a mob of cattle, horses and sheep thundering into the arena, seemingly out of control.

(Editor's note: "Seemingly out of control" means they are not really out of control, just that the skill of the animal trainers and the stuntmen makes it look as if>It is very impressive for people who never had anything to do with real mustering on real stations. I thought everybody would get that, but it seems the people involved in marketing the show didn't. They suggested I correct it so I thought I'd add the explanation.)

The first act of the Australian Outback Spectacular has a group of 22 men and women on horse back following the "wild mob" into the arena. They introduce themselves to the audience as belonging to one of two stations (stations are what ranches are called in Australia), either Wondoola Station or Austral Downs (which happen to be real stations).

The audience is split in half, and depending on where you are seated you will "barrack" for one of the two stations. You get a free stockman's hat with a coloured hat band to identify your station.

(A stockman by the way is a cowboy, and barrack means to cheer and support. I'm not sure all countries in the world use that term. I actually thought in Britain it's used as a negative term. But the people who market the show prefer that word to be used in conjunction with their show (does it make it seem more authentic?), so I changed it.)

This idea to have the stations compete against each other in the performance is supposed to capture the competitive spirit of the Australian Outback.

Hmmm. Never noticed we are any more competitive than other Aussies...

But hey, it works for the show. It has nothing to do with anything that would go on in real life, but the audience has fun and is certainly a lot more involved.

Next you get to watch some unbelievable horsemanship. The skill of the riders and horses, the way they control the stock and the stunts are breathtaking.

Those riders are some of Australia's leading stunt riders, and some of the horses have never seen any cattle or sheep before they started their training. They are performers, spectacular performers I may say...

Act two of the Australian Outback Spectacular has more working scenes, now including working dogs but also vehicles and motorbikes, and as if that wasn't enough in a closed arena there is also a helicopter swooping down on the audience...

You do get to catch your breath between the two acts when you learn about the history of the Australian Outback through video clips (of course with state of the art lighting, sound effects and orchestral music) while you are served your "traditional Australian barbecue", which is anything but traditional.

It's a gourmet meal with a theme. It certainly is nothing like the diet of stockmen during a muster...

What you see at the Australian Outback Spectacular wouldn't be out of place in the world's best circuses. And that's basically how I see the show: it's a breathtaking circus show with a theme. It's incredibly professional and well done and you have to admire the creators, the animal trainers and the performers. If you're at the Gold Coast and want to have a great night out by all means go.

Find out the details and book directly on their website: Australian Outback Spectacular. Just please don't think that now you've seen the Australian Outback.

The romantic image you are served up has little to do with the reality of hard work and basic lifestyle that is Australian cattle station life. And the true grandeur of the Australian Outback, the spectacular ancient landscapes, the untouched wilderness, the endless horizons and the solitude... you're not gonna move that into an enclosed arena...

I'm not sure if I come across as negative as I write this, I don't mean to. But it's hard to get excited by a show like the Australian Outback Spectacular when you are surrounded by millions of acres of the real thing. A show will never compare...

Return to top

Find out more about the real Australian Outback

Outback Australia Travel Guide home page

Home > About The Australian Outback > The Australian Outback Spectacular - Review