Travelling in outback Queensland is an amazing experience. There is so much to see and do. The distances between towns can get pretty big the further west you go. So it’s always good to break up your trip by exploring the towns of Roma, Charleville and Blackall as you go.
Roma is a little over 475 kilometres west of Brisbane. Smaller towns on the way to Roma, include Dalby, Chinchilla and Miles. Chinchilla is a lovely little town and famous for it’s annual Melon Festival.
Most of these towns are typical of Australian rural towns. They offer basic shops and often places of interest for tourists to visit such as rural museums that celebrate our Australian Outback Heritage.
THE BIG RIG
A great spot to check out in Roma is The Big Rig. This is an informational museum which describes the history of the discovery of Oil and Natural Gas in the Roma Region.
Visitors can take a self-guided tour through The Oil Patch outdoor museum, which we did. If you have younger kids, they will enjoy The Kid’s Oil Patch Challenge which is a fun way to test their skills and knowledge in the search for oil and gas. We also went back for the ‘Night Show’ which was a half hour video presentation on the Gas and Oil history which we found very informative.
AVENUE OF HEROES
When you visit Roma, make sure you take a drive down the Avenue of Heroes. Over 140 bottle trees were planted to commemorate the soldiers of the Roma district who lost their lives during the First World War. Each tree has a concrete memorial at it’s base with the name of the soldier that tree commemorates.
Charleville is 266 kilometres west of Roma. The road is basically dead straight but certainly not flat. It was quite rough in places and definitely not a road you would like to be on at night as there was a lot of ‘road-kill’.
Charleville itself is a small quiet town which was settled in 1842. It lies on the Warrego River and is prone to flooding.
When in Charleville a visit to the Cosmos Centre is a must. The Cosmos Centre is a world class, open air observatory that allows visitors to view the sun and night sky through a powerful telescope.
The guides are extremely knowledgeable and share their knowledge in plain English. We visited the Centre twice whilst in Charleville. Once for the daytime sun viewing session and once in the evening for the Night Sky viewing. The night viewing was probably one of the most interesting things I have ever done. A great educational experience for both children and adults alike.
Other things to do in Charleville include a visit to the Royal Flying Doctor Service Visitors Centre to learn about this vital outback service and also the Charleville Bilby Experience where you can learn about this endangered Australian mammal.
WHERE TO STAY
We chose to stay at the Evening Star Tourist Park. It is located about eight kilometres from the centre of Charleville on a working cattle station. I was most impressed with my choice. It was quiet and out of the way with lovely clean en-suite style amenity blocks at the rear near the camping area. It is listing no. 136 in the Caravan Parks Australia Wide book.
The rest of the park has powered sites. They have a fantastic camp kitchen and communal area. This area includes a huge camp fire pit which the owners light every evening. It was a great way to meet and talk with other campers. The kids were also delighted with the resident pet roo. She was very friendly.
One of the best bits about meeting and chatting with other travellers, is they often recommend other places to visit. We had not thought of stopping in Blackall until some fellow campers at Charleville suggested it. We just loved Blackall. It is a really lovely country town with a rich history.
JACKIE HOWE MEMORIAL
Jackie Howe was a famous Blade Shearer of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. He set the blade shearing record of 321 sheep in 7 hours and 40 minutes in 1892. The Jacky Howe Memorial located in the main street, celebrates that feat. You can also learn more about the area’s history by taking a tour of the historic Blackall Woolscour.
THE BLACK STUMP
The Black Stump was originally used for surveying purposes in the late 1800’s. It marks the site of the original Astro Station which was used to fix the position of principal towns from Brisbane to Boulia, via Roma, Charleville and Blackall. It’s also where we got expressions like ‘Beyond the Black Stump’ and ‘The Other Side of the Black Stump’ from.
BLACKALL AQUATIC CENTRE
The highlight of our stay in Blackall was a trip to the local Aquatic Centre. Here you will find an Artesian Spa which is heated to about 35`. It is located at one end of the swimming pool so if you get a bit to warm you can hop in the pool to cool off. It was a great way to relax after a days drive.
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at an awesome pub camp behind the Barcoo Hotel in Blackall. For $20 (in 2011) we got a powered site and had access to the pub bathrooms. The Barcoo Hotel was built in about 1927 it still has all of it’s original country charm. We enjoyed a great pub meal and a couple of beers there. The Barcoo Hotel is listing no. 824 in the Camps Australia Wide book.
You can now also camp alongside the Barcoo River for $10.00 a night. Fee is payable at the Visitor Information Centre. Just a two many walk from the campground are toilets and very clean showers with good, hot water.
Exploring the towns of Roma, Charleville and Blackall is a wonderful introduction to outback Queensland. They are such wonderful towns with so much to see and do.