Southern Outback Queensland & Lightning Ridge


Balonne River, St George Qld

April 1864 saw the Balonne River crossing area, named at St George, by Sir Thomas Mitchell, the NSW Surveyor-General. The date was close to the date of England’s patron Saint George feast day, hence the towns name. Since those times, St George has grown to a population of around three thousand, with a successful farming community in place, established from drawing on the Balonne River, as opposed to artesian water.

Flood marker

Check the flood markers down by the river.  Its very interesting to see the different river flood heights over the years.  Interesting to note to that, only a year or two after the 2011 flooding, the river was so dry you could walk across.   This was an interesting fact learnt from the local baker, Trent, during a run in his model T Ford.

Our first port of call after check-in at Kamarooka Tourist Park, was to visit Queensland most Western Winery, Riversands.

Riversands Winery

Helpful staff will run you through a tasting if you wish, or, there is a menu should you like to spend some time chilling over a meal and wine. And of course you most likely will want to try the F****ing Good Port, we did and there were a few bottles purchased.

Tasting the port

An early morning run around the township with Trent in his Model T Ford, was a little chilly on the hands, but a great way to get a look around the town, with Trent providing a very informative narrative on the town, amenities and history. Trent certainly is a great ambassador for St George! Add to that, your $5 for the ride is fully donated to the Flying Doctors and I am sure you will be wanting to take the spin around town with Trent.

Highly recommend a trip round town with Trent and his Model T Ford
Sandytown Sunset river cruise

Brett is your host for the informative sunset river cruise. For $35 per head, BYO your own drinks and nibbles whilst relaxing on the 2 hour cruise. As the sun disappears for the day, you are cruising along the river, chosen beverage in hand, listening to Brett as he tells of the areas history.

A couple of the riverside homes visible from the boat cruise

From his position at the front, Brett can pick out the locals who are fishing from their private jetty’s or relaxing on their private properties. Locals returned the happy smiles, cheers and waves they receive from the boat guests, as you cruise past.

Everywhere reflections

The timing of our arrival into St George plus departure, meant we were limited in what we could do. However, there are Cotton farm tours, as well as the Unique Egg store, and a number of other attractions.

Nindigully Pub

A short 30 minutes from St George is the infamous Nindigully pub. Touted as Queensland’s oldest pub, licensed in 1864, plus also being one of the locations for the 1999 Hugh Jackman movie, Paperback Hero.

Nindigully boasts a population of 9, however, this complex is intriguing, with something to see everywhere. No accommodation, you need to bring your own, but the parties this place would have seen over the past 150 odd years, would have been incredible.

Hats of yesteryear line the walls, with notes dotted all over the very high ceiling
And another sign says free beer yesterday- just need to find the right day 😆

Certainly be sure to visit Nindigully. This place is seeped in history, with entertaining staff and generally a great atmosphere. We didn’t have a meal here, but there’s some very famous huge meals to be enjoyed, just make sure you are hungry. There’s even chandeliers!

Nindigully beer garden

Take some time to visit St George, it really is worth the drive to indulge a few days at this beautifully tidy outback town, full of friendly locals willing to share their stories.

First Leg – Brisbane to St George Southern Outback Queensland & Lightning Ridge 12 night trip

Brisbane to St George, via Dalby is an approximately 5.5 hour drive. A good first driving break is at Jondaryan, an easy two hours from Brisbane, with the service station here providing clean bathrooms, food and drinks. There is also the tourist attraction, Jondaryan Woolshed here, but this, unfortunately, is closed for the foreseeable future.

The hustle and bustle of suburban life, swiftly disappears in the rearview mirror, the further you drive along the Warrego Highway. Scenery changes to wide open spaces, with small tufts of snow-white cotton beginning to appear on the roadside, as you approach Dalby. Dalby being a mere 30 minutes from Jondaryan along the wide, easy to drive highway.

Plenty of places to stop in Dalby too, if you would like a break or a look around the quaint township. We chose to stay on night on our return trip, so more about Dalby yet to come.

Turn off to the left to follow the 290km Moonie Highway, with a short 1 hour 15 minutes to the Moonie Crossroads. You’re driving in areas frequented by road trains now, so be sure to give them room whenever the road narrows.

Tufts of white cotton, turn into a splattered sea of white, lining the highway. You could be forgiven for thinking of this as white sand or snow.

Remember too, you are entering the home of many wildlife, who may choose to shoot across the road at any time. The worst times for the Roo’s and foxes is the twilight and sunrise. Emus can appear at any time, and when you see one, there’s a pretty good chance there’s a mob close by. The amount of road kill at the side of the road, is a good indication as to the risks of driving out here. We made a point of limiting our highway driving times to between 8:30/9am to 3pm, during the month of June.

Cotton fields

Moonie is a must stop. With a thriving pub, café, shop, caravan park, accommodation and friendly service, Moonie, hosting a permanent population of less than 200, is a refreshing break on the highway run.

The toilet door makes for entertaining reading.
A realistic looking figure, overlooks the garden bar
Vast plains appear as you drive by

A further two hours to St George from here, the final part of the first leg. Now you really do enter the vast outback areas. Before too long, the scenery changes to become filled with red dirt, long straight roads and scrub. If you’re wondering why there are wide strips graded along the sides of the highway, this is to help give you more wandering of wildlife or cattle who choose to cross the road ahead.

Our chosen place to stay on this occasion, was Kamarooka Tourist Park, hosted by Wade and Brenda. Cabins here were clean and quite adequate for a couple of nights. Every night your hosts, hold a happy hour from 5-7pm around the open fire, with complimentary garlic pizza bread. A good initiative to bring visitors together.

Next story will be about St George itself. A thriving, clean, tidy town, St George was a pleasure to visit.

Views and reflections from the river cruise

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