Cunnamulla – Outback QLD

Well its been a long break between blogs, but recent weather has left time for catching up! After leaving the totally iconic Lightning Ridge, we headed back across the border into Queensland. Our route took us through the quiet Bollon-Dirranbandi Road, to come out on the main Balonne highway, just before Bollon. A nice drive through there too.


Bollon itself is worth a stop. We dropped into Bollon Heritage Centre, which I would highly recommend doing. The volunteers were lovely people, full of local knowledge and very happy to share. It’s always a pleasure to chat to knowledgeable people who are so proud of their local history and willing to pass it on.

After a short stop in Bollon, we reluctantly peeled ourselves away to head west for the final two hour trip on this leg.

Main Balonne Highway heading towards Cunnamulla

Cunnamulla appears out of the red dirt. Population around 1200, established 1868 , around 800 kilometres to the West of Brisbane.

The water tower has been mural painted by Artist Guido Van Helten, in 2019, a fitting tribute to the rivalry between Cunnamulla & Charleville 200kms away. A similar Water tower was painted in Charleville to match.

Be sure to visit the Visitors Centre for friendly service and a look through the time tunnel as well as museum. Interesting place to wile away a couple of hours.

Theres a strong boxing history for the area, represented at the museum
The Cunnamulla Fella sits outside the Visitor Centre

We did not attend the experience at the railway station, but you can still go down and have a look around, as well as learn some of the history.

The disused Cunnamulla Railway station
Snapshot on history

Cunnamulla has a number of licenced venues, as well as cafes, various shops, all within a short few blocks, making up the town centre. A lot of work has gone into different ornamental displays. They pop up here and there as you explore.

Clever Artwork
Cunnamulla has a big Kangaroo population, represented in this artwork

Cunnamulla is a mini gateway to other outback regions. From here you can head out to Eulo or further, and do a round trip out west, back through Quilpie to Charleville. Be sure to spend a day or two checking out Cunnamulla and the Paroo Shire. You will find interesting areas pop up unexpectedly.

Reflections under the bridge

Second Leg – St George to Lightning Ridge

Southern Outback Queensland & Lightning Ridge

There are a couple of choices for travelling over the QLD/NSW border to Lightning Ridge. Our first intention was via Nindigully -Thallon-Murigindi. However, locals advised that after recent rain, there had been some washouts on the road which had unsealed parts. Unfortunately, this meant missing the Thallon murals and other local sights, it is best, though to heed local advice, particularly for unsealed roads.

Castlereagh Highway

After farewelling St George with breakfast at St George Bakery, we headed along the sealed Castlereagh Highway towards Dirranbandi, a short 1 hour drive.


Located on the traditional lands of the Kooma people, the indigenous population here identify as Gamilaroi. And what a lovely spot for the township, with the town reserve surveyed around 1885. This makes Dirranabandi a comparatively young town, with a population of approximately 700, which varies each year as seasonal workers stay whilst working for the cotton farmers.

Town Reserve

Around 9kms from the township, is the largest cotton producing property in the Southern Hemisphere. The 80,000 hectare (over 197,600 acres), Cubbie Station and their cotton ginnery, making them the major employer for this area. This station also is the largest irrigated station in the Southern Hemisphere, being a role model for inland Australia’s sustainable development, both ecologically and economically.

Very clever artwork

Such a beautifully clean township with plenty of interesting structures to see as you wander the reserve stretching the legs.

But, the jewel in the crown was quite possibly, the Dirranbandi Bakery. Decorated with reminders of the owners home Russia, including simply gorgeous tea sets, this spacious bakery was very popular.

Multitudes of sweet delights and pastries, beckoned from their various cabinets.  Stocking up on supplies for ‘later’, it was time to continue a short 45 minutes to Hebel.   

Located close to the border, Hebel’s population is around 70, with the township boasting a pub, General Store and Camping ground. All which have withstood the passing of time, reminiscent of the good ole days.

Hebel Hotel

Being around 4kms from the QLD/NSW border, Hebel was originally established as a border town with a customs post, around 1886.  Once part of the trail for Cobb & Co and a with the pub previously a hideout for the Ned Kelly gang, Hebel has its fair share of history to share.

One of the old cottages in Lightning Ridge

An easy 45 minute drive from Hebel and you arrive in Lightning Ridge, opal country.   Our accommodation here, was the easily located Bluey’s Motel, directly across the road from the Bowls Club.

More about Lightning Ridge, in the next story. Cannot give it all away here!

Tom Dancey Memorial – Dirranbandi