You may have seen the news stories doing the rounds in the last few weeks, but in case you missed it, Queensland’s South West is preparing for a bumper tourist season in 2021.
The official ‘tourist season’ for this area generally runs from March to October but in an unpredicted turn of fate the Coronavirus pandemic seems to have bolstered out of season travel with out area experiencing higher numbers of travellers over the summer months that are usually, for want of a better word, dead.
Now you are probably wondering where and who is considered ‘Queensland’s South West’ and I’m glad you asked. We are made up of 6 Shire Councils; starting here with us at Quilpie Shire and our friendly neighbours of Balonne, Paroo, Bulloo, Murweh and Maranoa…..however you probably know us more by our major towns of Quilpie, St. George, Cunnamulla, Thargomindah, Charleville and Roma.
With international travel still on hold for the foreseeable future the towns in this area are eagerly awaiting the influx of visitors that have already planned their journey this year and for those of you that are still deciding where to travel to, we’ve come up with 10 reasons why Queensland’s South West is the place to explore in 2021.
- Art & Culture is thriving
The art scene in Queensland’s South West is thriving and on display in many different ways. Start by checking out local galleries such as the ones in Surat, Hungerford (dare we say the most remote gallery in QLD?) and the gallery of resident Quilpie artist Lyn Barnes.
Don’t just stick to the galleries though as local art is even scattered throughout the towns and none on more of a grand scale than that of the Silo’s at Thallon. Don’t miss the murals or giant meat ant in Augathella and even try your hand at adding your own ‘stone art’ to the landscape at Yowah.
- Delectable food and wine:
I mean really, who doesn’t look to wine and dine on their holidays? And just because we aren’t by the seaside doesn’t mean we don’t have our fair share of trendy restaurants and unique dining experiences.
If you’re a wine connoisseur then stop and sample some wines on a tour of Queensland’s most western vineyard, Riversands, in St. George.
I don’t know about you but the first place I look for when I enter a town is the Bakery and Charleville has a great one in Heinemann’s. If you like pastries then Bonjour and have a seat at the Elegant Emu at Adavale for possibly the most remote (and divine) high tea experience you will ever have! You can even keep with the French theme of the trip and dine in at Roma’s French Bistro, Bistro 75, Oui Oui!
For a more ‘Outback’ experience who could possibly go past an authentic camp oven dinner, such as the one held at the Bulloo River Hotel in Thargomindah. If you like dinner and a show then Thursday’s Dinner and Duck race at Yowah’s Artesian Waters Caravan Park will be right up your ally.
- Home to Queensland’s best National Parks:
If there is one thing that SW QLD does better than any other region its National Parks. To be honest we are downright hogging the best parks in Queensland!
The Gorges and waterholes of Carnarvon Gorge and Hell Hole Gorge National Parks are truly something else and are the types of places you have to see to believe it’s not some green screen in a Hollywood production.
Prepare to be pleasantly surprised at Currawinya National Park, Lake Numalla and Lake Wyara are only separated by a few kilometres of sand dunes yet one is fresh water and one Saline, with the most incredible white sand edges. You’ll have to blink to make sure you are still in Outback Queensland!
In a good season when the rain gods have been kind to us the National Parks of Lake Bindegolly and Thrushton come alive with the most incredible Wildflowers and Tregole National Park is no slouch either as it is home to the rare Ooline tree.
- A rich & diverse History to explore
Queensland’s South West has an incredible and diverse history and some great places to learn all about it. Visit the ‘Dig Tree’ and learn of explorers Burke and Wills or Quilpie to hear tales of the pastoral pioneers whose stories are documented in the book ‘Kings in Grass Castles’. Cobb & Co. has a long history right through this, preserved and proudly on display in Surat’s Cobb & Co. Changing Station.
A massive secret was once held in the town of Charleville, that being it was home to a secret United States Air Force Base during WWII. Their new state of the art WWII Base has interactive and self-guided displays for you to learn about this fascinating part of Charleville and Australia’s history.
The South West has their fair share of interesting characters and stories about said characters. You’ll know you are in Cunnamulla when you hear the stories of the ‘Cunnamulla Fella’ but did you know that the little town of Hebel has a fascinating connection to Ned Kelly?
- Unique Outback events to rival any other:
In 2021 the events in South West Queensland are HUGE! Think Music festivals, large sporting events with even larger prize money and events that offer fair dinkum family fun for ALL ages! Here is just a sample of what you can attend this year in Queensland’s South West!
1st – 5th April Easter in the Country, Roma
13th – 16th May Music in the Mulga, Eulo
20th – 22nd May Shearer’s Shindig, Thargomindah
26th & 27th June Outback Queensland Golf Masters, Charleville
11th July Paul Kelly and Friends, Dirranbandi
11th September Quilpie Show & Rodeo, Quilpie
- One of a kind stays you’ll only find here:
If there’s one thing you can guarantee out here its accommodation immersed amongst the most amazing landscapes and sceneries. Get your fix at some of our station stays; enjoy an outdoor soak in the artesian baths at Charlotte Plains, Cunnamulla, find the perfect camp spot along the lagoon at Thargomindah’s Kilcowera Station or stay a few nights in the refurbished shearer’s quarters at ‘The Lake’, Quilpie
For a bit of luxury amongst 100 year old Eucalypts you can’t pass up a stay in one of Wallaroo Outback Retreats glamping tents, north of Roma.
For those looking for a tourist park/camp with the creature comforts of being close to town and with the amenities that come with it, stay at Gidgee’s Bush Camp, Morven and enjoy feeding the goats or unload the Canoe at St. George’s River front Tourist Park and explore the tranquil setting.
- The intrigue of our Natural Sciences
Queensland’s South West is all about the Natural Sciences, in fact you can take a trip along the aptly named ‘Natural Sciences Loop’ exploring Charleville’s Cosmos Centre, Eulo’s Mud Springs and Thargomindah’s Hydro Power Plant.
At the western end of the loop you’ll even find Australia’s largest Dinosaur at the Eromanga Natural History Museum as you step back 95-98 million years ago to the mid-Cretaceous Period. In fact in 2021 phase 2.a of the museum will be opening to the public.
- Breathtaking landscapes:
Now we know we sound biased, and hey why wouldn’t we be, but Queensland’s South West has the BEST landscapes you’ll find. Not only do we have the most incredible scenery but it is so diverse, changing the more you travel through our area.
Don’t believe us? Well how about taking in the Wildflowers around St George before taking the Red Dirt Rollercoaster down to Cameron’s Corner or a stroll along the sandy ‘Beach’ at Wyandra.
Still not convinced we have the best of ALL worlds? Then take in a sunset at the undisputed king of sunset sites, Baldy Top Lookout at Quilpie or get back to nature at Charleville’s Botanical Reserve and Judd’s Lagoon at Wallumbilla.
- Nothing quite like a country pub:
Another thing we have in droves out this way is character and charm filled watering holes.
You’ve heard of a one-pub town but have you heard of the ‘Pub with no town’? Well we’ve got a few!! Visit Nindigully and take the ‘road train’ burger challenge, break up your trip between Charleville to Quilpie with a stop at Cooladdi or pull up a seat at the Noccundra Hotel. The sign as you approach Toompine even lays it all out there ‘The Pub with no Town’.
Some of the Hotel’s out this way have a fascinating history and have been in operation since the 1800’s. Strike up a yarn with a local at the Eulo Queen Hotel and learn of the Eulo Queen herself. At the furthest town from the sea in Australia, Eromanga, pull in at the Royal Hotel and learn the Cobb. & Co. connection of this mud brick building.
For a more modern pub experience amongst these golden oldies the Royal on Ninety-Nine in Roma can’t be missed.
- Things to make you go WOW:
Now we’ve already given you so many reasons to come and visit us but we’ve got a few more up our sleeve!
We are willing to bet the last place you expected to find a Russian Bakery would be SW QLD, but guess what, you will find an incredible one in Dirranbandi!
For some fast talking wheeling and dealing take in a sale at the Roma Cattle yards or slow down time with a soak in the Yowah Artesian Spa.
Cuddle up with a Bilby in Charleville or how about playing a round of golf in 3 states at the same time?? Bet you never thought you could do that on your holidays?…well you can at Cameron’s Corner.
Quilpie is home to the exquisite Boulder Opal and one of the more unique places to see it on your travel is at St.Finbarr’s Church in Quilpie. The Altar, Font and Lectern are all adorned with this precious gem and a must see on your trip.
So now that we’ve given you a quick rundown of a few of the amazing and unique things to do in Queensland’s South West why not come on out in 2021 and be our guest! We can’t wait to meet you.
Please see www.visitquilpieshire.com for more information about what to see, do and where to stay in the Quilpie Shire.