If you’re travelling to Matilda Country from southeast Queensland, come via the Warrego Highway and start your holiday sightseeing on the way. The Maranoa region is filled with places of interest.
Roma, situated 350km northwest of Toowoomba, is renowned for special events as well as its year-round attractions. Some popular events are the annual Picnic Races in March, Easter in the Country Festival and the Roma Cup in November. A much loved biennial event is the Food and Fire Fest in September (everything from international entertainment to a variety of cuisine to pyrotechnics) but you’ll have to come back next year for that.
Start your visit at the Big Rig Oil and Gas Interpretive Display (Oil Patch) … and definitely don’t miss the night show. On Tuesdays, and in the main tourist season on Thursdays, join the unusual and fascinating tour of the saleyards. Seeing Australia’s largest cattle selling centre in action at the Roma Saleyards is something you’ll remember for a long time! For a taste of natural beauty, walk around Roma Bush Gardens. Lovely views of the Railway Dam are a highlight of the park.
Then there’s the Hospital Hill Heritage Walk, a 2km walk that takes in a dozen of the most historically significant sites of the early days of the oil and gas industry, including the site of the nation’s first petroleum well disaster. Also wander along Roma’s Historic Walk.
Roma is synonymous with bottle trees, so don’t miss the largest bottle tree with its gigantic girth of 9.13 metres, height of 6 metres and crown of 20 metres. Then see the Avenue of Heroes, featuring more than 140 bottle trees as a tribute to fallen soldiers from World War 1.
Injune, 90km north of Roma, is the perfect springboard for a national park experience: From Injune, you can experience the stunning natural beauty of Carnarvon Gorge and Mt Moffatt or explore the untouched beauty of Nuga Nuga National Park and the Lonesome and Beilba sections of the Expedition National Park.
Surat, south of Roma, has a number of attractions including a Cobb and Co Changing Station, Surat on Balonne Gallery, the 25,000 litre Balonne Aquarium, Aboriginal Traditional Campsite and Aboriginal Interpretative Shelter and the Balonne River which is perfect for fishing, bushwalks, birdwatching, picnicking and waterskiing. From December to May, you can see the Beranga Creek waterlilies, and if you’re in town in May you might catch some great horsemanship at the Cobb and Co Campdraft. The Surat Diggers’ Races are in September. The quarterly markets in Surat are well worth visiting.
To the east of Roma on the Warrego Highway are Wallumbilla and Yuleba. At Wallumbilla, visit the Wallumbilla Heritage Centre. Close to Yuleba is Judd’s Lagoon, a tranquil spot which is perfect for a little birdwatching or fishing. Another good fishing spot is Old Yuleba, the original town, which is only 13km from the current township. For a taste of travelling history, take the Cobb and Co Way (the Yuleba-Surat Road) which was the last scheduled horse-drawn Cobb and Co mail run in 1924. Along the way you can see the Native Wells and the Maryann, a paradise for rockhunters looking for agates and petrified wood. Plaques explain the importance of relics along the way.
Mitchell, 87km west of Roma on Warrego Highway, is famed for the Great Artesian Spa (open seven days) and is of course named after the explorer Major Mitchell. Don’t miss the gallery, Mitchell on Maranoa, then admire some of the art out in the street. A great event in Mitchell is the Mitchell Camel and Pig Races, held in August every year.
Nearby communities include Amby, Muckadilla and Mungallala.
Roma Visitor Information Centre
Phone (within Australia) 07 4622 8676