Brisbane to Toowoomba (2 hrs Travel)
As you begin your tour, heading to your first major stop at Toowoomba, consider a slight detour to see the town of Ipswich, Queensland's oldest provincial city. As such the City Heritage Trail has over 70 beautiful historical buildings to see. Further history can be enjoyed at the Workshops Railway Museum which is Part of the Queensland Museum. There you will find state-of-the-art and wholly interactive displays covering the history of Queensland Rail. To be enjoyed are restored carriages, train simulators and a behind the scenes tour of a working rail workshop. Continuing the rail theme are the Queensland Pioneer Steam Trains which run steam and diesel trains between Swanbank and Bundamba Race Course.
The Ipswich Art Gallery which doubles as a social history museum includes a Children's gallery and frequently has new displays and exhibitions. If you want a bit more fresh air, then why not check out Queens Park (incorporating the Japanese Nerima Gardens, a Lookout, a Wildlife reserve, a Bush Chapel, a Play area and a Kiosk) or the Woodend Nature Centre where you can see up close a flying fox colony from the viewing deck and read about these fascinating animals via the information boards. Other attractions include nearby wineries and the chance of a round at the Brookwater Golf Club which was designed by legendary golfer Greg Norman.
Next on the tour consider detouring to Woodlands of Marburg which is a Heritage listed property on 250 acres. Also in Marburg there is the National Trust listed Marburg Hotel and more nearby wineries.
Toowoomba (1 Day's Stay)
At Toowoomba you can enjoy a Heritage walk or Drive to see the many historical buildings such as the Empire Theatre (heritage listed art deco venue with state of the art technology and providing historical tours) which is Australia's largest regional performing arts complex holding regular performances. Also you can visit the Spring Bluff Railway Station with its picturesque Gardens and heritage railway station. There is also the Mort Estate Historic Self-guided Walking Tour for which a brochure is also available from the Toowoomba Visitor Information Centre.
With over 150 parks and gardens Toowoomba is known as the garden city of Queensland. Aside from the Toowoomba Botanical Gardens there is the Floral gardens of Queens Park (just next to the Botanic Gardens) with extensive grassed areas for sports, children's play equipment including a swing designed for disabled children and walking tracks. Then there is themed Lake Annand Park (with a the simulated lava flow, appropriate plants and a pulsing fountain emulating a geyser themed like New Zealand) where you can feed the ducks and enjoy a Barbecue/picnic facilities and a playground and there is the Newtown Park State Rose Garden where more than 1500 roses have been planted with a Brass plaque showing history of park (since 1912) as well as the history of roses amongst many lovely public parks and gardens. Vistas of the city can be enjoyed from Picnic Point Lookout and Parkland which provides views of Lockyer Valley and Tabletop Mountain.
At the Toowoomba Bicentennial Water Bird Habitat you can enjoy bird watching, picnicking, a walking trail, or just indulge in photography of the native flora and fauna. Continuing the natural history theme is Crows Nest National Park where you can enjoy bushwalking, the beauty of Crows Nest Falls and the Koonin Lookout which is a platform above the 25m falls that reigns over the "Valley of Diamonds" Gorge possibly so named due to sparkly effect of sunlight on the granite there. The park is a Eucalyptus Forest with diverse bird and wildlife and the possibility of seeing platypus in the creeks (late afternoon or early morning). History of the town and region starts to come alive at the Cobb & Co Museum whose National Carriage Collection is the biggest in Australia. Here you can see the history of horse drawn vehicles, enjoy the traditional and contemporary indigenous displays at the Binangar Aboriginal Language centre, be entertained at the Coach Stop children's activity centre, browse the extensive merchandise and memorabilia in the gift shop or soak in the local and regional history.
For food lovers, a large store filled with gourmet foods, the Toowoomba Gourmet Market with its large selection of local and Darling Downs regional fare is also worth a visit, while there is excellent fishing claimed for Severn dam, Macintyre River and Dumaresq River for keen anglers. Of special note is the Japanese Garden on the grounds of the Toowoomba campus of University of South Queensland, at 4.5 hectares it is Australia's largest and most authentic Japanese Stroll Garden with 230 species of Japanese & Australian plants used.
Toowoomba to Goondiwindi (3 hrs Travel)
As you travel to the next major stop of Goondiwindi, consider going slightly off route to visit Pittsworth. The history of Pittsworth and the region is on show at the Historical Pioneer Village and Museum. Open by appointment only, you will find there, in and amongst the historical buildings, displays of early settler tools and crafts, farm equipment and machinery as well memorabilia concerned with Arthur Postle who in 1906 was the 220 yard dash World Champion. Also worth mentioning are the beautiful stained glass windows of St Andrews Church. Next on the way to Goondiwindi is Millmerran where you can see a series of historical murals painted on the walls of the Old Millmerran Buttery Factory, the Millmeran Swimming Pool, the Millmerran Reservoir and the Cecil Plains Memorial Hall (which has four murals) that depict stages of the regions history. The Millmerran Historical Society Museum (opened by appointment) also has the memorabilia of the towns history which, among other myriad other things, includes a 10 metre long 2 metre high Steam Launch called 'Water Baby'.
Goondiwindi (1 Day's Stay)
Goondiwindi is found at the Junction of the Barwon, Bruxner, Cunningham, Liechhardt and Newell Highways as well as being on Qld & NSW border (on the banks of Macintyre River). As such the town has a noteworthy signpost in the main street giving the basic directions and distances to a number of major towns and cities.
The city's local history is on display at the Customs House Museum where a number of artefacts, books, journals and memorabilia can be perused as well as having some well kept gardens to enjoy. Nearby is the Border Bridge, a local landmark crossing the Macintyre River, where historically the customs collected duties for goods being transported between Queensland and New South Wales. An unusual treat is taking a tour of Macintyre Ginnery, one of world's largest cotton gins (tours only available from April to September) where you can see raw cotton being processed up to the point of being baled.
The Fairway Studio Art Gallery is worth a look with changing exhibitions, the work of local artists and artwork for sale. Of great pride to Goondiwindi is the story of the race horse Gunsynd (known as the "Goondiwindi Grey") with 29 wins over a few short years including 1971 Epsom Handicap, 1972 Cox Plate and a third in the 1972 Melbourne Cup. The Goodiwindi Grey was also celebrated in a 1973 song by Tex Morton. You can view memorabilia concerning Gunsynd at the Victoria Hotel and a statue in memory of the horse was erected in picturesque Apex Park.
Goondiwindi to St George (2.5 hrs Travel)
As you drive onward towards the town of St George you'll pass through Callandoon which was once a town including post office, police barracks and Gaol but now just holds a Pioneer Cemetery with 6 graves (but only 2 headstones standing) dating from 1876.
At Weengallon you can stop to admire the Aboriginal rock wells (visible from highway and believed to have been geologically formed) which historically filled with rain run-off and were used as an important water source.
St George to Cunnamulla (3.25 hrs Travel)
After arriving in St George take the Historical Self-Drive Town Tour (details from the Balonne Shire Visitor Info Centre). Also make sure to visit the St George Heritage Centre for its interesting local history, a blacksmith operation, a functional printing press, local aboriginal artefacts and the Old Gaol and Courthouse buildings (relocated to the site from within the town). There is some great fishing at St George at Waroo Bridge, Beardmore Dam (which also has barbecue/picnic facilities), Jack Taylor Weir. While at the Jack Taylor Weir you will be able to see the Thomas Mitchell Cairn, amongst the landscaped gardens, which shows where he crossed the river on his fourth expedition (which was when he named the Balonne River amongst others). The Weir itself is quite impressive at 6m in height holding around 10,000 megalitres.
You could also enjoy some great bushwalking at Buckinbah Weir and on the Balonne River Walk (keep an eye out for koalas and variety of beautiful native birds). On permanent display at the unusual location of the Balonne Sports store is Steve Margaritis Hand Carved Emu Eggs. A collection of 40 years of work, each one is illuminated from within, and the collection has at various times been displayed internationally.
For wine lovers Riversands Vineyard is a boutique winery offering tastings an outdoor cafe & gift shop and they also have barbecue facilities.
Nindigully is a nearby town with a number of nineteenth Century buildings. Despite only having a handful of residents currently, Nindigully has Queensland's oldest pub (licensed in 1864) still in original condition and location. Nindigully is also another spot recommended for good fishing. On the way to Cunnamulla you'll come across the town of Bollon which has a large koala population for you to enjoy (due to prolific River Red Gums) and the nearby Rosehill Aviaries Wildlife Park with its extensive collection of Australian Parrots as well as other birds (over 600), kangaroos and sugar glider possums. (It is situated on a working sheep and cattle station). Thrushton National Park (4WD accessible only in dry weather, has dense Mulga Scrub, Spinifex sandplains, and Eucalypt Woodlands).
Cunnamulla (1 Day's Stay)
The history of Cunnamulla begins with the Heritage Trail (available from the visitors Information Centre which also has info on other nearby towns) and continues with the range of memorabilia and documents on display at the Cunamulla Historical Museum. There is also the Bi-Centennial Museum (once a Masonic lodge) which has also has memorabilia on display, a photographic display of the town's development and a number of historical records and ledgers that provide an interesting read into what life used to be like. An unusual historical landmark is the Robbers Tree that gained its name when, in 1880, a bank robber named Joseph Wells climbed the tree in an unsuccessful attempt to hide from his pursuers.
One of the towns great landmarks is the Cunamulla Fella Statue (from the song sung by Slim Dusty and written by Stan Coster) which was erected as a tribute to the bush balladeers who have fired our imagination.
Recreational activities at Cunnamulla include boating, fishing and swimming in Warrego River, the Warrego River Walk (a local joggers haven where you can enjoy birdwatching, fishing or enjoy the sunset viewing deck at the halfway mark) and the Allan Tannock Weir (for picnics and barbecues), swimming and fishing, walking trails and more birdwatching). The Nearby town of Eulo (who have adopted Frilled Neck lizard as their symbol) is where you can see the World Lizard Racing Championship track (an Annual event) which is presided over by a 20 foot tall Frill neck sculpture and also contains a plaque in memory to Destructo the racing Cockroach who accidentally died from a terminal case of Race Clerk's foot.
You can also enjoy Heritage & Nature Trails, the delightful Lizard Lounge (a picnic area constructed of galvanised iron walls to represent Frill Neck which was designed and painted by local Artist Peta Warner), enjoy a jar of local Yapunya Honey or walk on the remains of the Eulo Mud Springs (which once were quite active with mud being forced up out of the ground due to underground pressure but now have become a mound of dry mud which sounds hollow if jumped on).
Cunnamulla to Charleville (1 day's Travel)
On the way to Charleville take a pause at Wyandra to follow the heritage trail which takes you to (among other buildings) the Powerhouse Museum Wyandra housing two massive National engines originally used to provide electricity to the town and also has excellent displays concerning local and town history.
On reaching Charleville there is also a lovely Heritage Walk (brochure from Visitor Information Centre). The town's fascinating history can bee seen at the Historic House which was once the National Bank and residence and now contains memorabilia of early outback life, a Replica Cobb & Co Coach, an Oakwood Station Steam Engine and Rail Ambulance and a variety of old machinery. It's worth also driving past at night when the grounds of the Historic House is lit up for spectacular effect.
The highly original design of the Myendetta Homestead makes it worth taking a Tour. Built in 1910 by Architect Robin Dods it is often referred to as the "House of 100 Doors" and visitors are treated to a history of the house and occupants.
The intriguing Cosmos Centre is one of the highlights of Charleville. There you can view distant stars and currently any visible planets of the solar system and enjoy interactive displays and theatre presentations. Night time tours require booking but well rewards visitors with visions of the night sky relatively free detracting of light pollution.
Another town favourite is the Bilby Night Talk as the endangered Bilby is being bred in Charleville. The talk which tells you all about this illusive species also needs to be booked through the visitor centre.
Opportunity to see displays concerning Tregole, Currawinya, Lake Bindegolly and other National parks can be found at the National Parks and Wildlife Centre which is locally conducting the breeding programs for various endangered animals and has a number of them viewable in their enclosures.
Recreation opportunities include Graham Andrews Parklands (with the Native Timber Walk, the opportunity to feed water birds around the lake and containing the Charleville Visitor Information Centre within its grounds) and the Bicentennial Park (with the unusual attractions of a pair of Rain-making Guns left over from the unsuccessful 1902 experiment to break drought). An idea of what bush life was like in the last century can be experienced by visiting the School of Distance (formally School of the Air) and the Royal Flying Doctor Base (which has old and new equipment and memorabilia on display as well as a documentary to watch) and finding out what a difference these to great organisations have made to the outback.
The Arts & Crafts Centre at the nearby town of Augathella (North of Charleville) has a display of memorabilia and local arts and crafts and gifts (much of which is for purchase) and also the interesting "Outback to Augathella" documentary for you to view.
Charleville to Roma (3.25 hrs Travel)
On the way to Roma a pause at Morven rewards with the Morven Museum which has 20 miniature buildings including a model of the first hotel in Morven as well as a range of historic memorabilia. There is also the unusual attraction of the Bonsella Tannery tour (open since 1993 and specialising in Kangaroo Skins). Nearby to Morven is the Tregole National Park (great for bushwalking in the "Dry" rainforest full of the floral species Ooline dating back to ice ages. This is a vulnerable, fragile ecosystem but the park also includes extensive mulga and grassland areas).
Next is Mitchell with a private museum on a working farm that has a range of transport equipment (includes Cobb & Co coaches) and a display of blacksmith tools. The Kenniff Courthouse is a significant historical site within the town with grounds including statues of the bushrangers known as the Kenniff Brothers depicting their capture and trial for murder. The Great Artesian Spa (where you can swim and relax in the therapeutic mineral waters) will please many after so many days of travelling while the opportunity for some fresh air at the Neil Turner Weir (great for Bird Watching and picnics) will be enough for others. Mitchell residents recommend the fishing at Fisherman's Rest (upstream from the weir) and if you decide to enjoy the Maranoa River Walk take a moment to appreciate the Graffiti Arts Project at the Maranoa River Bridge (15 murals depicting past present and future of town) and don't forget to consider the Mitchell Golf Course if you brought your clubs with you. Next is the town of Amby with the unusual "No Horse" Golf Course set to challenge you.
There is also the Amby Quarry to see which has Pure Basalt from an ancient Lava flow that formed a layer ten metres deep, five kilometres wide and over 60 kilometres long which is used in construction, roads and bridges. If you like historic buildings check out the Old Stage Changeover Shanty (circa 1875).
Muckadilla has the Whistlestop Railway Siding which is the original railway station relocated to some parklands, surrounded by native gardens with walking paths, new play equipment and offering local arts and crafts and tourist information. Mucakdilla also features a War Memorial.
Roma (1 Day's Stay)
Roma is known as the cradle of Australia's Oil and Gas industry as it was here that, while actually drilling for water, a pocket of oil and natural gas was found. To celebrate this there is the Big Rig Oil & Gas Museum to visit which showcases the history of Australian oil and Gas industry with stories, memorabilia and multi media exhibits.
The Meadowbank Museum offers visitors other information about the Roma through a range of memorabilia, horse drawn vehicles and motorcars and which also has on its grounds bird aviaries, animal enclosures and a picnic and play area.
Roma is also host to the oldest vineyard in Queensland, the Romaville Winery (1863) where you can enjoy tastings and go to the adjacent cottage gallery which sells souvenirs and crafts. Also in Roma is Heroes Avenue, lined with 100 Bottle Trees (one for each local soldier whose life was lost during WWI).