Planning a caravan or camping trip of a lifetime? Whether you choose to travel by car, camper trailer, motorbike, caravan or four-wheel drive, the Sandstone Wonders should be on your 2020 must-do list when exploring the sunny Queensland State. Rich in history, uncrowded National Parks, budget accommodation, top-notch camping spots, incredible fishing and friendly locals, the Banana Shire region is calling your name. The iconic towns of Theodore, Taroom, Biloela and Moura are enough to persuade anyone to travel the Central Queensland region in 2020, let alone being right at the Queensland Outbacks doorstep! Planning a trip to this underrated region will not fall short of your expectations and should be on the itinerary of every traveller. But it helps to know what exactly is on offer. We’re going to let you in on why the Sandstone Wonders should be on your 2020 bucket list, and how you can have that big adventure with a unique twist!
1. 2020 Outback Masters in June
Mingle with the locals, get a fair dinkum taste of the outback, be entertained with live music, play (or watch) a bit of golf, and possibly win a million dollars! Talk about a unique experience! Kicking off (or shall we say teeing off) in June, the 2020 Outback Masters kicks off from Biloela and promises to be the best year yet. The event takes in six of the most unique courses in the world and travels through Charleville, Quilpie, Blackall, Hughenden and finishes in the iconic town of Longreach. This unique event is aimed to gather the interest of golfers, non-golfers, travellers and adventure fun seekers with the aim of the game being a ‘hole in one’. The prize? A million bucks! The Outback Queensland Masters runs for just over a month-long, so you can join in on one or all of the legs and guarantees to be an incredibly unique experience of the outback that you’ll never forget.
2. explore the world class national parks
Update September 2021:
NB: access to the Bomber crash site, The Wall camping area & the Loop 4wd track in Kroombit Tops National Park is currently closed until 31/10/21, due to maintenance work and upgrades being undertaken in these locations
The Sandstone Wonders boasts several world-class national parks with flora and fauna you cannot find anywhere else in the world. Along with some pretty unique World War Two history that was only discovered in the last 25 years by a National Parks ranger, solving a 50-year-old mystery.
So, what’s our pick? Kroombit Tops. Standing on the 100-metre high Sandstone Cliffs it’s hard to believe that the ground beneath our feet is made up of collapsed volcanoes and the remnants of a time once covered by the ocean. Fast forward 215 million years from when Kroombit Tops first began to form and what we have today is a rich ecosystem supporting a wild variety of plants (850 species to be exact). Diverse vegetation is attributed to the rich volcanic soils and change in atmosphere as you move from the high sandstone cliffs to the rainforest and then to the lower-lying country. Many species are listed as rare or threatened, and many are only found on the plateau.
The fact that Kroombit has remained unspoiled for hundreds of years may contribute to the existence of the park’s endemic frog the ‘Kroombit Tinkerfrog’. Nowhere else in the world will you hear the distinct sound of metallic sharp ‘tinks’. Exploring the rich rainforest on one of the designated walks, see if you can stop and listen for the male ‘Tinkerfrogs’ calling to the females.
Perhaps the most unique part of the Kroombit Tops National Park is the story of ‘Betsy’. This heritage-listed site has remained relatively untouched since the day the WW2 Bomber crashed almost 75 years ago. We don’t want to spoil it too much for you, but discovering the history, fauna, flora and landscapes of Kroombit is like no other.
Other notable National and Conservation Parks in the Southern Queensland region worth a visit are Isla Gorge, Expedition National Park, Nathan Gorge, Lake Murphy & Mount Scoria. Just the names of these parks are enough to give you an idea of what lies in the Sandstone Wonders landscapes waiting to be discovered. Plus, you’ll be pretty much guaranteed to have the place to yourselves!
3. EXPERIENCE THE Country hospitality
Australia is well known for its country hospitality. In a matter of minutes, a conversation can transform two strangers into good old mates. Once the comforts of the more populated places are left for dust in the rearview mirror, Australia opens up its heart as you travel further away from the hustle and bustle. As the road opens up and the tall buildings subside, you can really begin to see time slow, and in some places, almost standstill.
The Sandstone Wonders is the gateway to Outback Queensland. This region provides a wonderful opportunity for the traveller to get a taste of true community spirit. The landscape will draw you in just as much as the night time skies. The locals are friendly and have the gift of time, contributing to the well-known reputation of the good old country hospitality.
Experiencing the numerous regional events, classic county pubs and historic towns are a great way to get a taste for the Central Queensland region. Experience the stories of the local pioneers, their tales told through the surviving families of today. As you take in the landscape between towns, the scenery changes are nothing short of spectacular. Stop in at some of the local cafes or pubs. We recommend a visit to Theodore where the community has a great story about the history of the local pub.
4. Chock full of events
The Sandstone Wonders calendar is packed with a wide range of events guaranteeing something for everyone. Experiencing the events in the Sandstone region is a great way to meet the locals and experience first hand that genuine country hospitality. Whether you are a spectator or an entrant, loads of fun and laughs are waiting to happen at your next chosen event.
Now, what type of events are we talking about? Take your pick! You may wish to try your luck at the handful of fishing competitions that take place each year. Or how about a bit of nostalgia with a good old Town Show? Each year Baralaba, Taroom, Biloela, Wowan and Moura host their own unique Shows that bring together the community to celebrate. Another showstopper is the horse racing events at Thangool. Offering locals and visitors a chance to dress up, the Thangool Races are a popular (almost) monthly event that leads up the annual Cup Day. For a top-shelf country experience, take note of the Rodeos held in the region! These Rodeos are locally known as Campdrafts and offer the spectators an incredible glimpse into the skill and dedication of a drover. With a handful of Campdrafts to choose from, we highly recommend adding the experience of a Campdraft to your bucket list.
To plan your Central Queensland adventure, check out the local Events Calendar to see what’s on. The calendar is chock a block with a wide variety of experiences, from weekend markets to arts festivals, from classic car shows to the thrill of horse racing. The Sandstone Wonders guarantees an experience of a lifetime at more and more of the region’s events.
5. The Best Freshwater fishing in queensland
The great thing about fishing is if it isn’t your thing, then all you need is a good book, a nice comfy chair and you can settle in beside your mad keen fisher friends, kick back, relax and watch the action. But if fishing IS your thing, then take note because the Sandstone Wonders has arguably some of the best freshwater fishing in Queensland.
If you fancy trying your luck at catching a fat freshwater barra, saratoga, yellowbelly, cod or perch, the well-stocked creeks rivers and lakes will excite the average fisherman and even possibly get you hooked! Fishing the freshwater systems is a great way to discover some of the true hidden beauties of the region. Chatting to the locals for some extra tips and possibly a few hidden gems is the way to go. Great fishing spots are often coupled with the beauty of a campsite off the beaten track. Serious fishing adventures await you.
With the rivers, creeks and lakes chock a block with freshwater fish it’s not hard to see why it is the perfect place to host a fishing comp or two! Every year the region welcomes locals and visitors to five annual events, the Great Baralaba Saratoga Classic, the Lake Callide Family Fishing Classic, Taroom Fishing Competition, Moura Muddy Water Family Fishing Classic and the Hooked on Theodore Fishing Competition. The local fishing competitions are a great way to bring families, friends and professionals together for a great weekend.
6. YOU CAN SLEEP FOR NEXT TO NOTHING
If you are travelling by caravan, tent, swag or prefer motels, the region of the Sandstone Wonders offers easy and affordable options for all types of travellers. Planning your tour of the Banana Shire guarantees an amazing experience of the great outdoors with a variety of activities that are suitable for all walks of life. Rich in natural assets, we recommend adding extra time on to your trip to really explore what the region has to offer.
There are many drive trails to incorporate into your trip of a lifetime. These itineraries, prepared by knowledgeable and passionate locals, vary in duration and are designed to take in the best of the best. The drive trails are the perfect add on to your budget holiday.
Popular with families, couples and singles are the low-cost camping options. For next to nothing, you can have a front-row seat for the spectacular show of nature. A campfire is an absolute must, along with the marshmallows for the kids. Depending on the location, the activities available from your campsite of choice can include walks, fishing, boating, history and four-wheel driving.
7. photo opportunities Galore
The appetite for a stunning photo seems to have increased alongside the popularity of social media. Within the art of capturing a stunning image, success seems to lie within the ability to capture the emotion behind the image. Moody skies, thirsty landscapes, ancient rock, romantic sunsets are given when exploring the incredible surrounds of the Sandstone Wonders.
The visual appeal of the countryside evokes even the novice photographer, providing multiple opportunities to capture the feeling of the experience. The open road and expansive ever-changing landscape, the sunsets, sunrises, old lonesome trees in grass strewn paddocks, soaring birds of prey, abandoned rustic pioneer homes, campfires and starry lit up skies all provide the perfect opportunity to capture your once in a lifetime holiday.
8. Experience the outback Queensland country pubs
When it comes down to a cold beer or a traditional counter meal – who could say no? Let alone the local characters you will have the opportunity to meet and the stories you are guaranteed to hear (whether you like it or not!). An old country pub is almost an institution, providing the pillar of a community and seeing it through thick and thin. There is always a good old cold beer to be had somewhere. The Sandstone Wonders in Central Queensland has no shortage of history-laden pubs, ready and waiting for you to pull up a bar stool, order a ‘cold one’ along with a ‘counterie’.
Perhaps one of the most iconic pubs in the region is ‘Hotel Theodore’. Originally built as a boarding house, Hotel Theodore’s claim to fame is that is community-owned, meaning, you support the pub – you support the community. Another iconic pub well worth a visit in the region is the Cracow Hotel. Word of warning – do not be deceived by the hotels common exterior. Step inside and you will be transported into another world. The walls are rich with memorabilia, bric-a-brac and tell hundreds of stories without uttering a word. A visit to the pub and you may meet more locals than you bargained for – a woman clad in her nightgown wandering the stairs and corridors, a woman who died long ago! If you are a keen historian, photographer, or just like an experience a little out of the ordinary we highly recommend a visit to this little beauty of a town.
“Cracow is a land of its own, an oasis in a sea of open country. To travellers it’s a jewel that if examined closely will reveal a life of freedom. A place for memories and new experiences”.
– Nathan Kucks, October 2019
Plan your Sandstone Wonders Journey today
The Sandstone Wonders region offers unique and memorable experiences that are suitable for all walks of life. Whether you prefer to travel with the family, on your own or with your loved one, the region has something for everyone. There is just so much to see and do.
Begin planning your trip by downloading the brochure. Next, you might be interested in working out the best ways to get here. Start planning your stops by checking out the full map of the Banana Shire and the other self-drive itineraries available. There are plenty of Visitor Information Centres along the way to stop in for a chat, or you are welcome to phone us on (07) 4992 9500 for any questions you may have on planning your next adventure in the region.
Book your camping spot
If you are planning to camp in a designated campground or National Park ensure you book and obtain the necessary permit.
Book online at www.qld.gov.au/camping or phone 13QGOV (13 74 68). Charges may apply.
For more on camping in the Sandstone Wonders read here.
And please help to care for our precious places and leave them clean as you go. Remember: take only photographs, leave only footprints.