Australia’s most iconic outback bakery, The Birdsville Bakery, has sold for $1.2 million, marking a new era of investment and development for Queensland’s most remote town.
After the 2:30pm settlement on Wednesday, Dusty Miller handed over the keys and recipes for the bakery’s famous curried camel pies to Martin Josselyn.
This brings an end to 12 years of handling the heat in Outback Queensland’s most famous kitchen.
The settlement of this iconic property is not just a boon for the Birdsville economy, but the population.
The Josselyns move their 4WD tour business and staff, who’ll now make up six per cent of the population of Birdsville, 1400km south-west from Townsville to their new base.
The purchase of the Birdsville Bakery is the single biggest private tourism investment in Birdsville for over a decade.
The sale also coincides with a number of other public upgrades to the area, including the airport, to support Birdsville’s burgeoning event calendar.
Tourism is a major industry for this tiny town on the edge of the Simpson Desert, which attracts between 40,000 to 60,000 visitors annually.
Most of these visitors, approximately 30,000, coincide their visit with the Birdsville Races and the Big Red Bash, which sees population swell from 120 to 10,000 over a weekend.
Events like the Birdsville Races and Big Red Bash will become key for the new Birdsville baker, who will spend most of the eight months the bakery is open each year, stockpiling the 15,000 pies that sell over race weekend each September.
Replacing Dusty in the kitchen are Johnny Bonde, who has been Dusty’s apprentice for the past 12 months, and French-born chef, Sebastian Badey, who’ll ensure the bakery’s pies remain in pole position in Trip Advisor's ‘Best Pies in Queensland’ list.
While the bakery menu will remain largely unchanged, the Josselyns plan to open the bakery’s Hard Road Cafe at night for bistro dinners and offer camp-oven dinner packages during peak tourist season.
According to Mr Josselyn, who earns his crust running 4WD tour company, Adventure Australia Treks and Tours (AATT), “buying a bakery wasn’t always my dream, but when Dusty put the property on the market last year, I knew it was the perfect investment.”
“Birdsville is a fantastic place with some really great events, assets and operators,” Mr Josselyn said.
“It has the potential to become a tourist destination in the same way the Red Centre has in the Northern Territory, it just needed the right investment. So, we invested.”
Tourism and Events Queensland’s latest (Sep 2016) overnight visitor data for Outback Queensland paints good fortune for Josselyn, who intends to capitalise on the tourist market which travels to the Simpson Desert and needs sustenance.
Over the past three years, Outback Queensland has seen a growth of 13.4 per cent in domestic visitors, compared to 5.3pc experienced by Queensland’s capital Brisbane.
Aside from running the bakery, the Josselyns will also expand AATT’s tag-a-long and guided 4WD routes from their Birdsville base and offer new day tours for visitors.
As the desert roads open from March 15 and Birdsville prepares itself for the tourist season, AATT will offer two-day tours around Birdsville’s sites, an ‘Under the Stars’ camp oven dinner package, and long-haul tours from Birdsville.
All tours can be booked online or through the staff at the Wirrarri Visitors Centre.
The bakery’s first “official” day of service is 1 April 2017, marked with a housewarming pie-party from 11am.