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Starlight’s Cruise Experience


From $135 per person


4 hours


Monday to Saturday from 4.30pm

About this experience

Outback Pioneers’ sunset cruise was the original Thomson River Cruise and is still the favourite with its historic ‘Thomson Belle’ paddlewheeler or ‘Thomson Princess’ riverboat and its traditional riverbank entertainment, including a stockmen’s dinner around the campfire.

As the sun goes down, the river is a peaceful environment of reflections and colour – perfect for photos. Then step ashore at our riverbank site and gather around the crackling fire for tales and bush poetry. Watch Starlight’s Spectacular Sound & Light Picture Show featuring our exclusive movie about the adventures of Captain Starlight (aka Harry Redford).

The 3pm cruise (available select dates from June) is a leisurely experience with an additional hour to watch the sunset from the riverbank terrace, right next to the Pride of the Murray restoration project.

Experience highlights

  • Leisurely river cruise on a paddlewheeler or riverboat with commentary from your skipper
  • Time for photos as the sun sets
  • 2-course stockman’s dinner by the campfire
  • Traditional bush entertainment
  • Starlight’s Spectacular Sound & Light Picture Show on the riverbank
  • Billy tea and damper with golden syrup
  • Great opportunity to view the star-filled outback sky on a clear night.
Two boats idling on the Thomson River
Pride of the Murray paddlewheeler on a hardstand at sunset
Corellas roosting in tree
The serenity of the Thomson River at sunset
Outback Pioneers guests sitting around a campfire
Illuminated river bank movie screen with guests watching at night
Stoking the camp fire in the black of night

Things you'll love

Our historic paddlewheeler and riverboat celebrating pioneer heritage
Seeing the iconic Pride of the Murray on the bank (and view the sunset from the riverbank terrace).
The peace on the river and birds coming home to roost after a hot day
The sunset sky, colours and reflections - unique every evening!
Generous helpings of traditional stew made to Richard Kinnnon’s grandma’s special recipe.
The inspiring Captain Starlight story - spot the Kinnon family and locals in cameo roles
Seeing the Southern Cross from deep in the Aussie bush.

Things to know

  • This is a 4 hour experience leaving Longreach about 4.30pm.
  • The experience runs Monday-Saturday evening in the April-October season.
  • A 3pm cruise runs on demand from June onwards.
  • Pick-up and drop-off is at your accommodation.
  • BYO alcohol, soft drinks available to buy on board.
  • Vegetarian, gluten-free and other dietary options.
  • The winter evenings can be quite cool – bring a jacket.
  • Which boat you are on depends on availability – please check your booking confirmation.
  • The 3pm cruise includes a sunset viewing from the riverside terrace next to the Pride of the Murray restoration site ($20 supplement).
  • Bookings are essential to save your place.

Get up close to the Pride of the Murray

Progress with the Pride of the Murray paddlewheeler restoration is slower than we’d hoped while we wait for approvals but there is still a special opportunity to see her up close and get a unique view of sunset on the Thomson River.

If you book a 3pm Starlight’s Cruise Experience from 4 June 2024, you can return to the riverside viewing terrace alongside the decommissioned Pride of the Murray to watch nature’s spectacle with your choice of sundowner drink (BYO). It’s a great vantage point for photos of her paddlewheeler sister, the Thomson Belle, against the outback colours. At dusk, you join the evening itinerary of the experience.

A $20 supplement goes to the restoration fund.

From our guests

What a fantastic experience! The river cruise was lovely, we were lucky to see a sunset. The dinner by the campfire is great. They offer alternative meals (order when you book) and I had a vegetable stew. Absolutely delicious. The atmosphere, the entertainment and the food couldn’t be faulted. Would highly recommend this experience.

Gayle M

I’m old, grumpy and hard to impress, but these folks went the extra mile and really impressed me. The river cruise across sunset is amazing and unexpectedly beautiful in that environment. Our skipper really made us feel a part of the land…The dinner, the yarns, songs and poetry were down to earth and really entertaining. This would be one of the few experiences I would be looking to do again.

Keith W

From collection at your accommodation everything is top class. A fantastic hour on the Thompson River, finishing at sunset bend where nature shows her finest. Then a marvellous dinner and show where patrons of all ages enjoyed good food and fabulous entertainment and left on a high.

Viktoria K

Book your experience


What’s the difference with the 3pm cruise?

The 3pm cruise (available from June) includes an hour on the riverbank terrace, next to the Pride of the Murray restoration project, to enjoy the sunset and watch a documentary of the Pride of the Murray's overland journey from Echuca to Longreach (BYO drinks). Afterwards you'll join guests from the later cruise for the stockman’s campfire dinner and entertainment. There is a $20 supplement, which goes to the Pride of the Murray restoration fund. Reasonable mobility is needed for a short walk to the viewing terrace.

What days is the 3pm cruise available?

The 3pm cruise is available from 4 June 2024 onwards – on demand

Why is my 3pm cruise booking $20 more?

You are booking the 3pm cruise which includes sunset viewing from the riverbank terrace, next to the Pride of the Murray's restoration project. The $20 supplement goes to the Pride of the Murray Restoration Fund. The experience is approximately 5.5 hours.

Can I choose which boat I’m on?

The boat you travel on depends on availability. You can tell which boat you are booked on from the time in the booking window. If the time is 3pm, 4.30pm or 4.45pm, you will be boarding the Thomson Belle paddlewheeler. If the time is 3.15pm, 4.31pm or 4.46pm you will be boarding the Thomson Princess Riverboat. This time will also be shown in your booking confirmation. Please call our reservations crew if you are not sure or have a special request (we may have received a cancellation or we can suggest an alternative day). The 3pm cruise includes time to view the sunset from the Pride of the Murray deck on the riverbank, if you are interested in this iconic boat. Note: the Pride of the Murray is no longer available as a passenger vessel for cruises.

How far in advance do I need to book?

This varies depending on the experience and month. We encourage you to book as soon as you know your travel dates to be sure of your place, especially in the peak months of June to August. If you have just arrived in town, we’re happy to accept bookings on the day if we still have places available.

Can I change my booking date?

Yes, you can change your date up to 24 hours before the experience departure, if we run the experience on the day you prefer and if we still have availability on that day. Please call our reservations crew on 07 4658 1776 to arrange this.

Which cards count as concession cards?

We only accept Australian Pensioner Concession Cards.

How do I waitlist for a cancellation?

Please give our reservation crew a call on 07 4658 1776 if there is no availability online and we’ll happily put you on a waitlist.

Do you offer a transfer from my accommodation?

Yes, this tour picks up from the major Longreach town and Ilfracombe Road accommodation and tourist parks. Select your accommodation when booking online or tell our booking crew.

How do we arrange a transfer?

Simply select your accommodation when you book online or tell us where you are staying when you make a reservation by phone. If you haven’t chosen your accommodation yet, you can let us know later by phone or email – at least 12 hours in advance, please.

How do I let you know my dietary requirements?

There are options on the online booking form to request vegetarian, vegan and other special diets. You can also tell us when you make a phone reservation. We need to know at least 24 hours in advance of the experience departure to arrange special dietary meals.

What time does the experience start and finish?

We start our pick ups around Longreach town from 4.30pm and drop you back at the end of the evening (around 9.00pm). The afternoon cruise picks up at 3.00pm and also drops back around 9.00pm.

What to wear for the cruise?

We’re not formal around here and the winter evenings can be cold so definitely bring a jumper and jacket.

How long is the sunset cruise?

The boat cruise is approximately 1-hour and is followed by a stockman's dinner and entertainment at the river camp. The 3pm cruise has an additional hour for sunset viewing from the Pride of the Murray deck and allows plenty of time for the short walk to and from the Pride’s riverbank location.

Can I buy drinks on board?

We have soft drinks to buy on board but you need to BYO alcohol. Support our local bottle shop and enjoy a good range at great prices! We have drink coolers for sale at The Station Store if you do not have your own.

Are the boats accessible for disabled people and wheelchairs?

There is a ramp onto the Thomson Belle and Thomson Princess. At the moment, the Pride of the Murray deck is only accessible by stairs, and reasonable fitness is needed for the 150 metre walk to the Pride of the Murray. We also have accessible toilets on the river bank.

Can I bring my dog?

For safety reasons and as most of our experiences include other animals, we do not allow dogs (except trained and registered assistance dogs). If you need dog minding, Longreach Veterinary Services can help.