With COVID-19 state border closures, travel adventures are focused in our home state.
There would be virtually no one who isn’t aware of the issues facing our entire planet in 2020 as a result the global Coronavirus pandemic. While international and interstate travel is currently not an option in Australia, the situation has provided us with the impetus and opportunity to see more of our own beautiful state of Queensland.
Known globally as the ‘Sunshine State’ because of our excellent weather, Queensland has long been the destination of choice for interstate and international travellers and holiday-makers seeking to avoid the cold weather and enjoy our virtual all-year-round summers. So, with our state borders closed and our pending trip to Bali on hold, we hitched up the caravan for a 3 week tour of Central and Coastal Queensland.
First stop, the Garden City
Travelling south to Brisbane from our home on the Sunshine Coast, we bypassed Queensland’s capital city and headed west through Ipswich to Toowoomba, a distance of around 250 kilometres. A nice, easy first day’s drive towing the caravan as it is dual highway all the way from the Sunshine Coast to Toowoomba. Sitting atop the Great Dividing Range at an altitude of 700 metres (2,300 feet) Toowoomba has a temperate climate and is renowned for its parks and gardens. Each September the city hosts the Carnival of Flowers, a garden spectacular that bring tens of thousands of tourists from Australia and overseas to visit its numerous beautiful spring gardens.
Dinah and I have visited Toowoomba numerous times. Indeed Dinah went to boarding school here. Whilst we have seen much of the city, it was still an experience to view many of Toowoomba’s historic old buildings, marvel at the views from Picnic Point and tour the magnificent Japanese Gardens. There is just something special about the way the Japanese approach gardening; layout, choice of plants and presentation that sets these gardens apart from the rest. We stayed 2 nights at the centrally located and aptly named Garden City Holiday Park. Spacious caravan sites and excellent amenities. Check the holiday park out at: www.big4toowoombagchp.com.au
Next stop, Possum Park
Heading west, we passed through the Darling Downs heading towards Chinchilla. On the way we stopped at the small village of Boonarga, site of the iconic Cactoblastus Hall. The hall commemorates the introduction of the tiny cactoblastis beetle into Australia which single handedly eradicated the cactus-like prickly pear bush from the Queensland outback. My Great Grandfather who was an agricultural scientist, was involved in the beetle’s introduction into Australia in the 1930s.
Through Chinchilla, past the ‘Big Watermelon’ and on to the township of Miles. Caravanning friends of ours had mentioned a rather unusual place to stay 20 kilometres north of Miles on the Leichhardt Highway, the somewhat romantically-named Possum Park. An RAAF ammunition store during World War II, the property has been transformed into an outback caravan park with the underground ammunition bunkers converted into self-contained air conditioned guest accommodation. Over the years, we have stayed at some pretty unusual places, and Possum Park is right up there with the best of them. Being located in the middle of nowhere, it made the ideal location for a secret military establishment.
Possum Park is a fascinating place and the people are super-friendly. We arrived around midday, giving us the afternoon to explore. Everywhere there is memorabilia, from wartime signs and notices to a troop train and a restored Vickers Viscount turbo-prop passenger aircraft in the old TAA livery. You can camp here in safari tents, stay in the restored ammunition bunkers, even lodge in a troop train carriage. For caravanners, the drive-through sites are excellent for an overnight stay as you don’t need to unhitch, while the evening happy hour around a blazing log fire is a great way to end the day chatting with fellow travellers. You know how some places you visit are ones you’ll remember forever? Possum Park is one of those places. A big shout-out to John who is the unofficial Possum Park historian. He guides you to your site while recounting the story of this unique place. Check Possum Park out at: www.possumpark.com.au
Welcome to ‘Bilo’
Around 260 kilometres north of Miles and Possum Park on the Leichhardt Highway through Wandoan, Taroom and Theodore is Biloela, our next stop. Located in the Shire of Banana, Biloela, or ‘Bilo’ to the locals, is a beaut country town with a diverse range of pastoral industries, including cropping and grazing. Coal is mined at the nearby Callide open-cut mine providing fuel for Queensland’s power generation. The third largest abattoir in the state is also located in the town. The population is just under 6,000 making it a significant rural centre. The district features a number of culturally-significant heritage sites, including the historic Greycliffe Homestead on Greycliffe Station. The homestead dates back to the late 1800s. In 1979 it was moved to a central Biloela location along with a number of other pioneer buildings.
Bilo is a great place to visit and the Biloela Caravan Park where we stayed is just on the outskirts of town, within easy walking distance of the town centre. A nice open park, we were able to secure a drive-through site making our travels the following day just that much easier. No hitching up. Check the Biloela Caravan Park out at: www.ozzyparks.com.au
From the outback to the coast
From Biloela we headed north to Westwood and then east on the Capricorn Highway to Rockhampton, the ‘capital’ of Central Queensland and one of the country’s major beef cattle areas. Stopping only in ‘Rocky’ for a flat white at McDonalds, we continued east to Yeppoon, on the coast about 40 kilometres from Rockhampton. This was the start of our journey south through Tannum Sands, Woodgate, Hervey Bay, Rainbow Beach and eventually home to the Sunshine Coast.
There’s something special about the Queensland Outback, as we have discovered on our two caravan journeys so far this year. There is also something special about the Central Queensland Coast, as we were about to discover. There’s so much to talk about and show you, so we’ll share our costal journey with you in our next goctheplanet.com post.
Featured picture: Mapping our way throughout Central and Coastal Queensland
- Smithfield Homestead, circa 1895 in Toowoomba
- Magnificent colonial architecture in Margaret Street, Toowoomba
- The original homestead that is now Fairholme Girls School in Toowoomba
- The splendour of the Japanese Gardens in Toowoomba
- The view from Picnic Point in Toowoomba. Spectacular!
- On the highway in Outback Queensland
- The historic Cactoblastis Hall in Boonarga
- A celebration of the Watermelon Festival in Chinchilla
- Troop train accommodation at Possum Park
- A restored Vickers Viscount aircraft at Possum Park
- A warm and friendly happy hour at Possum Park
- ‘Trusty’ the Australian Kelpie at Possum Park. Watch dog?
- A bomb now a planter at Possum Park
- Inland explorer Ludwig Leichhardt’s tree in Wandoan
- A classic outback sunset in Biloela