We have been home now for 4 and a bit months. After some unexpected health issues for Kerry our plans have been thrown into disarray. But come March we are committed to attend the District 9630 Rotary conference in Roma.
For those of my readers who do not know, Roma is the main town in the Maranoa Region of South West Queensland some 515 klms (320 miles) west north west of Brisbane. It is a rich agricultural and grazing area and enjoying the economic benefits of coal seam gas mining presently. Famous for its Bottle trees and Romavilla winery, it was founded in 1867 and named after Lady Diamantina Bowen (née Roma) wife of the Governor of Queensland at the time. the rotary district 9630 incorporates the south east and south west portions of the state of Queensland. So this year we are going to the country. It is not part of the “Outback” per se but west of Roma is accepted to be where the Outback commences.
Romavilla Winery looks very derelict and closed. So I searched on the internet and it has closed but not forever. See http://www.westernstarnews.com.au/news/romas-historical-romavilla-winery-gets-makeover/1841054/
Our journey starts at 7.00 am Friday morning. It will take at least 6 hours driving to reach Roma and we plan 1 or two stops on the way. The first stop is at the top of the Great Dividing Range and the capital of the Darling Downs – Toowoomba. Located 125 klm (78 miles) from Brisbane Toowoomba is the largest inland city after our capital Canberra. Known as the Garden City because of its beautiful public gardens and parks. It is perched on top of the range 700 metres (2,700 ft) above sea level and enjoys milder weather than Brisbane. Our stop involves meeting Kerry’s relation Liz at the Parkhouse Cafe in Margaret St across the road from one of the city’s famous parks for breakfast. I can recommend the cafe for its tasty breakfasts and beautiful surrounds.
Liz can talk so we don’t get away until 10.00 am. Fortunately we had allowed for the delay but soon found ourselves out on the highway travelling through grassy plains and chasing trucks. Even though this area is at a higher altitude it can still get quite warm and today it has claimed to 34 degrees C and the heat haze hangs over the plains. The barley is ripe and ready to harvest. The next main town is Dalby.
Dalby is 208 klms (128 miles) west of Brisbane and the administrative centre of the Western Downs with approx. 13,000 inhabitants. The main Highway – the Warrego Hwy – skirts past the main town and we moved quickly onto Macalister which is mainly made up of silos over the rail line. This is grain country and broad acres and large silos are with us for the next couple of hours. then follows Warra, Brigalow, Boongarra and then Chinchilla 300 klms west of Brisbane. Chinchilla is the melon capital of Queensland and road side melon stall shot the road side. Although its residents only number in the order of 5,500 people it is a powerhouse of agriculture, beef and pork production. Kogan Creek Coal Mine has brought a diversity of wealth to the area. Just outside of Chinchilla we spot the SW Qld version of the Tour Eiffel in the form of a modern micro wave tower.
After a milkshake and a break we resume driving west through Goombi, Columboola, and onto Miles 340 klm west of Brisbane. Formerly known as Dogwood Crossing it was renamed in honour of the Queensland Colonial Secretary William Miles and is home to just under 2,000 people. It has a great example of a historic village well worth a visit. Our journey continued through Drillham, Dulacca, Jackson, Yuleba, and Wallumbilla. Jackson is the remains of what was thought to be Queensland big oil industry but now it is 7 houses and “Roo” box (where Kangaroo shooters hang the Roo carcasses awaiting collection) and it is somewhat of a ghost town. We are getting close now to our final destination – Roma. we pass through Blythedale and shortly enter Roma at 2.30 pm just 7 and a half hours driving.