Mitchell, the eastern gateway to outback Queensland, is loved by visitors for its artesian spa where people can soak away their aches and pains in ancient underground water that comes to the surface piping hot and laden with minerals.
The Great Artesian Spa is one of the town’s treasures. With billabong-inspired shaping and native Australian flora in the landscaped surroundings, it has two pools - one is naturally heated and the other is cool. The water is renewed regularly and comes from the Great Artesian Basin, one of the largest artesian basins in the world and underlying about one-fifth of Australia. It covers a total area of more than 1,711,000 square kilometres. The Mitchell bore brings water to the surface from about 1km under the ground.
See local flora and fauna on the Maranoa River Walk, which is a local initiative to restore the riverbank environment between Fisherman’s Rest and the Neil Turner Weir. Both these areas are tranquil spots to take some time out from your travelling schedule and just relax. Throw in a line or do some birdwatching. Throughout the different seasons, bush tucker can be located along the trail.
For caravanners, there’s the Major Mitchell Caravan Park. Situated on the banks of the Maranoa River, the park has a picturesque fire pit where campers gather at night. The park is named after the explorer Sir Thomas Livingstone Mitchell (as is the town, of course). It features powered sites, en suited sites for vans plus self-contained cabins, on-site caravans and campsites as well as a comprehensive camp kitchen.
While on the subject of all things Major Mitchell, see a campsite that the explorer established in 1846 during a mapping expedition. It was Mitchell’s fourth trip for the huge project of mapping an overland route between Sydney and Darwin. If history is your thing, also visit the local heritage museum.
Visit the Mitchell on Maranoa Gallery and Library. Displays range from local artworks to visiting exhibitions. The gallery was originally a picture theatre and you can browse the Maranoa Theatre Display to see the original projection room. Mitchell also has a range of art out in the open air.
If you’re in town in May, join the locals at their annual show. A bit later in the year is the Mitchell Camel and Pig Races. It’s the weekend before the Birdsville Races, so if you’re travelling to that iconic event, make your travel arrangements accordingly.
To truly feel as though you have been introduced to the country, stay at one of the very special properties in the region. Bonus Downs, built in 1911 by one of the nation’s most famous early landholders Sir Samuel McCaughey, features a historical homestead and a species of rainforest trees, oolines, dating back 1.6 million years. Accommodation includes a rustic jackaroo’s cottage, camping over at the shearers’ quarters or powered and unpowered sites.
Claravale is a natural wilderness experience with spectacular sandstone formations, wildlife and panoramic views. Gill and Eunice Campbell have received several awards in recognition of their dedication to nature conservation. Tour with them and experience nature at its best. The property has powered sites, barbecues, picnic tables, toilets, showers and water.
Learn the story of Australia’s last bushrangers Patrick and James Kenniff at the Kenniff Courthouse (open weekdays). Also see the Arrest Creek Monuments, situated where the brothers were captured 7km south of town.
Roma Visitor Information CentrePhone (within Australia) 07 4622 8676