Rockhampton to Brisbane
From the Capricorn Coast you’ll be driven through some of Australia’s powerhouse agricultural lands, and Australia’s real powerhouses: coal mines. You’ll cross the beautiful Dividing Range and travel through cattle and sheep country, cotton and sunflower fields, and if you decide to go out to St George, there are options to take you into the Outback.
Rockhampton to Mt Morgan
Along the broad Fitzroy River in Rockhampton is the longest stretch of heritage-listed buildings in Australia. One of Queensland’s finest heritage precincts, it reflects the wealth attained from gold mines and on the pastoral empires of Australia’s Beef Capital. Aim to visit the free Rockhampton Zoo in the afternoon for feeding of the native Australian and exotic animals. The zoo is sandwiched between the Botanic Gardens and Murray Lagoon. A rail museum, a military museum and an art gallery round out some of the attractions of Rockie. Driving south from Rockhampton, you’ll see Brahman cattle in the fields.
A half-hour down the road is Mt Morgan, set in the pretty Dee Ranges. It’s home to a now heritage-listed mine that was once one of the richest gold mines in Australia, and for a period of time, the world. Guided tours into the mine will also take you to early-Jurassic dinosaur footprint tracks, and museums help you discover Mt Morgan’s rich mining history. You can cross a replica of one of six famous suspension Swinging Bridges that once forded the Dee River. The Big Dam for a swim and a picnic is just two k’s from town.
Mt Morgan to Biloela
In Biloela you can browse through Queensland Heritage Park’s historic pioneer buildings and vintage agricultural machinery collection. Twelve kilometres south of Biloela is the geologically rare Mount Scoria which is made up of numerous finger-like basalt columns which emit musical tones when struck.
Biloela to Theodore
On the way to Banana, the Leichhardt Highway is flanked with cotton fields and brilliant yellow sunflowers. Around Banana you’ll see coal mines and grazing cattle. Theodore, on the flood plains of the Dawson River, is a luxuriant-looking town that looks like a seaside resort with palms and tropical plants along the gracious Boulevarde. Theodore is a designed town, part of an irrigation plan which was intended to create a dream model garden city surrounded by highly productive farms to feed the world. Cotton fields around Theodore take advantage of the irrigation.
Theodore to Miles
After Theodore you’ll come up the Great Dividing Range onto the Darling Downs. The Miles Historical Village and Museum is one of Australia's leading regional museums and one of the region's premier tourism attractions. History is presented in a 'streetscape' style as it was back in the day. More than 30 buildings housing amazing collections bring a bygone era to life, including the blacksmiths, general store, post office, bakery, barbers, chemist, bank, hospital and a butcher shop. There are also significant collection displays including The Artesian Basin Centre and the War Museum. Miles also has the world’s first combined-cycle power station fired by untreated coal seam gas with Australia's first steam turbine condenser cooled by coal seam methane waste water.
Options from Dalby
From Dalby you can choose a direct route back to Brisbane through Toowoomba, or extend your trip on to Moonie, St George and Goondiwindi before turning to Toowoomba and Brisbane. Dalby itself is a good place to stop, hire a car and take advantage of many interesting day trips from the town.
Dalby to Moonie
Along the way is Tara, home to vast wheat fields and the heart of some of Australia’s finest Merino country. Moonie, a tiny settlement on the intersection of the Leichhardt and Moonie Highways, is the oil capital of Queensland with Australia’s first commercial oil field. It’s also the home of the Yabbie Races, billed as the race that stops the outback, a quirky country event run each November. You’ll love the fashions on the field, race action, food and live entertainment! You can browse local arts and crafts and experience the Moonie Heritage Trail where you’ll see brilliant murals depicting the history of the town.
Moonie to St George
Heading out from Moonie to St George, the landscape is timbered. Outback folk have the courage of St George, slayer of dragons, as they battle the monsters of droughts, floods and isolation. It's the St George in these men and women that make the Australian Outback such an incredible place. First stop in St George will have to be The Unique Egg where you can watch Stavros Margaritis carve emu eggs as he has for more than 60 years. His illuminated eggs are truly amazing to see. Amble the Ballonne River Walk or take a river cruise. Take a tour in St George: a wildflower tour between August and October, a cotton farm and winery tour, an air or 4WD tour, or take in one of the biggest populations of birds in Australia, and beautiful Aboriginal rock pools. Fish from the river bank: the Murray cod are huge!
Options from St George
From St George you can add on trips out to Cunnamulla and/or Lightening Ridge. In Cunnamulla you can hear the story of the Great Artesian Basin which flows beneath 1/5 of Australia and is the lifeblood of the Outback, take a journey through 6ha of different ecosystems, visit a birdwatcher’s paradise 16km from town which boasts more than 200 species of birds, or “live the life” of the people that helped shape this country on a station stay. Like many places in the Outback, Cunnamulla has a beautiful river where you can take a sunset river cruise, fish, or stroll the river walk along the banks, overlooking the floodplains.
Lightening Ridge is the Black Opal Capital of the World. You can experience underground sculptures, a bottle-house, a castle, the largest display of old and rare cactus in the southern hemisphere, hills named 'Lunatic', and 'Pig', a pub crawl to 'The Pub in the Scrub' and 'Sheepyard Flat', and tour an underground mines, or even have a go at fossicking yourself. At the end of the day, slip into the free naturally-heated spa Artesian Bore baths covered in a fabric of stars.
St George to Goondiwindi
Around St George there’s cotton as far as you can see, and along the way you’ll see a few thousand sheep. Goondiwindi is the junction of six highways and therefore 'on the road to everywhere'. It sits just on the Queensland side of the state border with New South Wales Gundy—you can cross the little bridge which used to be the border crossing. Stretch your legs on the lovely river walk along the banks of the Macintyre River. Outside of town is a native flora botanical garden, and a water course for swimming and watersports, both great picnic spots. Take a bushtucker or a cotton farm tour while you’re visiting.
Goondiwindi to Toowoomba
Home to the Carnival of Flowers in September, Toowoomba is a gracious town with big parks downtown such as Queens Park and the elegant Laurel Bank Park. Catch a bus from town out to the university to see the Japanese garden. A regional hub, Toowoomba has a huge new shopping centre downtown. Discover the back lanes and many cafes of Toowoomba by following the amazing First Coat street graffiti and mural art trail. Take a bus up to Picnic Point for beautiful views from the top of the Great Dividing Range eastwards across the valley towards Brisbane.
Toowoomba to Brisbane
You’ll drive down the steep descent from the top of the Great Dividing Range and into the world’s seventh richest farmland as you drive to Brisbane through the Lockyer Valley where Australia’s veggies are grown.