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Some of the best Queensland country towns can be found along the Warrego Highway running between Charleville and Toowoomba. After we had spent three days exploring the wondrous Carnarvon Gorge we drove along the Great Inland Way to Roma.
The drive took us through the rugged sandstone ranges with turnoffs to the Nuga Nuga National Park and Lake Nuga Nuga. If you have time you can take the ring road through the Arcadia Valley to Lonesome, that is rated as a very scenic drive. This road rejoins the highway eventually.
Once we departed Carnarvon Gorge the first town we stopped at was Injune. We were pleasantly surprised by this town located on the western foothills of the Carnarvon Ranges.
We stopped to refuel and visit the Visitor Information Centre that had an adjoining cafe where we enjoyed a coffee and bacon and egg brioche. The interesting thing about the premises is that it’s constructed out of logs which gives it a real country feel.
Amongst the interesting things to check out in Injune is the old Steam Train at the Injune Station; the historical Courthouse (now a Museum); local art at Injune Creek Gallery; take a walk around the Injune Lagoon; and see the many coloured sandstones of the Carnarvon Ranges at Henricks Park.
Country towns don’t come much more “country” than the Queensland town of Roma. Located at the junction of the Great Inland Way and the Warrego Highway, Roma is 477 kilometres north-west of Brisbane.
We arrived here in the afternoon and decided that we’d like to experience a farm stay, rather than the run of the mill caravan parks. Ups N Downs Caravan Park & Farmstay is a 200 acre working farm, located on the outskirts of Roma.
The farm stay had everything that you would expect! Cute farm animals, including a friendly Alpaca named Miss Josie and her mate Bentley the pig, curious goats, shy miniature horses, cows, kangaroos, chickens, guinea fowls and peacocks. It also boasted heaps of farming memorabilia, including old tractors, rusty trucks, horse saddles, farming implements and tools.
The amenities were located in the old shearer’s quarters, there was a camp kitchen/bar, outdoor seating and tables on a lawn area and a huge fire pit surrounded by seats where happy hour took place every afternoon at 5pm.
The town of Roma is famous for two things: 1. It’s the cradle of Australia’s oil and gas industry. 2. It hosts Australia’s largest cattle yards at the Roma Saleyards.
Amongst the many things to do an see in Roma are: visit The Big Rig Oil & Gas Museum tourist attraction; stroll along The Avenues of Heroes lined with Bottle Trees; amble through Roma Bush Gardens; see Roma’s biggest Bottle Tree; walk Adungadoo Pathway along Bungil Creek: and see classic cars at Up The Creek Garage.
After spending a very pleasant night at the Farm Stay in Roma we set off on the Warrego Highway travelling through small country towns along the route. We stopped briefly at Wallumbilla when I caught sight of this massive open-sided tin shed.
The shed houses Calico Cottage where you can gorge yourself on home baked country treats and purchase some locally made arts and crafts. The Heritage Complex is located adjacent displaying artefacts and photographs of the history of the region.
My husband was looking forward to seeing Miles as he has childhood memories of visiting this Western Downs town. Interestingly it was once called Dogwood Crossing, named after the shrub. It sits at the crossroads of the Warrego and Leichhardt Highways.
We stopped here for coffee and cake at the The Creek Cafe, located at the back of an old bank building in the main street. The cafe doubles as a gift shop and florist and has a very charming outdoor area where you can sit and enjoy your coffee.
Miles has a particularly good Historical Village Museum that you can stroll around to explore the pioneering buildings. It also has a renowned art gallery or you can take a walk along the Dogwood Walking Track to Chinaman’s Lagoon.
After a quick stroll around Miles we continued east for a distance of 46 kilometres to the vibrant town of Chinchilla. This Mexican sounding name, is actually the Aboriginal word “jinchilla” for the cypress pine that grows in the area.
We stopped very briefly to capture a photo in front of the big watermelon at the entrance into town. Visitors from all over Australia come to Chinchilla every second February to join in the celebrations of the Melon Festival.
Just outside Chinchilla we came to a small settlement called Brigalow that boasts the Boonarga Cactoblastis Memorial Hall. This is the only hall in the southern hemisphere that honours an insect. The Cactoblastis Moth was introduced to kill the Prickly Pear plants that were rife in the area.
The heritage railway town of Warra was a hop, skip and a jump away, and our next stop. The grand old Warra Hotel caught my eye, with its typical “Queenslander” architecture. Also the restored historical railway station is worth a look.
Next up was the thriving regional hub town of Dalby where we stopped to enjoy a sandwich in the beautiful gardens of Thomas Jack Park. After lunch we took a drive around the pretty town and were impressed with the bell tower and manicured gardens at the entry to the main street.
Dalby’s Pioneer Park Museum has the largest collection of working early model trucks, tractors and agricultural equipment and is worth a visit. Grab a map and follow the Dalby Heritage Trail and visit some of Dalby’s stunning historical buildings, homes and churches.
The Myall Creek Parklands Walkway is popular with bird watchers and has plaques detailing places of historical significance. Or get amongst the excitement and noise at the Dalby Saleyards every Wednesday. It’s among the largest one-day cattle sales centres in Queensland.
Our last overnight stop prior to heading back home was at the rural town of Oakey in the Darling Downs region. The rural service town is located only 155 kilometres west of Brisbane.
Oakey is renowned for two things: It was the home of “Bernborough”, one of Australia’s most famous racehorses and, just outside town, is the best aviation museum in Australia, the Australian Army Flying Museum.
After checking out the “Bernborough” statue, we took a drive through the town stopping to photograph the Old Butter Factory, with murals depicting the history of the region, the railway station and the Western Line Hotel.
Our choice of accommodation for the night was at the Oakridge Motel Tourist Park on the outskirts of town.
Our journey home was upon the newly constructed Toowoomba Bypass, know as the Second Range Crossing. This engineering feat is 41 kilometres long with a road that passes over an 800-metre viaduct and then through a 30-metre cutting through the ranges. The views from the range crossing are spectacular and unfortunately for me there was no place to pull over to take a quick photo.
The bypass cuts down the travel time considerably between the Western Downs and Brisbane. However, if time had permitted I would have loved to re-visit the city of Toowoomba.
After we descended down the ranges we hit the rich fertile farmlands of the Lockyer Valley. This region is extremely popular with day trippers seeking farm fresh produce from roadside stalls or at weekend markets in the small country towns.
Our trip through country Queensland was an eye-opener for me. I never realised how ever-changing and dramatic the countryside would be. Nor did I realise how interesting all the small country towns would be. They all offered something unique. But most of all I loved spending some time and money in each and every town to do my small part in getting regional tourism back on its feet.
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.