Discover the stories of hardship, triumph, loss, and love with our top picks of history spots of the Sandstone Wonders region.
As the plains of the western landscape open, so does the sense of wonder. The mind finds it easy to trace back and think about life as it was for our ancestors, and for the first descendants of this country that we all now call home. When we immerse ourselves in history, there is usually something tangible that will accompany it to spark the imagination. Want to step back in time and relive the lives of yesteryear? Or perhaps you want to show the kids what life was like way back when. Join us as we take you on a journey of what not to miss when exploring the Queensland outback yard.
1. Taroom Museum & the Star of Taroom
The Taroom Museum houses a collection of artifacts unique to Taroom and its environs. St Mary’s Church, built in 1893, the Boathouse, and Jongh Tai Shue’s Confectionary and Bakery business are among the museum’s buildings.
Visit the Taroom Museum and follow in the footsteps of explorer Ludwig Leichhardt in the rich farming land around the Dawson River in 1844. Objects from early enterprises, a Blacksmith’s forge, and a wonderful piece of jewellery belonging to Sarah, wife of John Becker the Bootmaker, c1870, are among the eclectic collections. Discover a 19th-century round pole and slab house that served as both the Reynolds’ residence and the township’s general store. Feel what it was like to be imprisoned at Taroom’s first jail.
Star of Taroom
As a boy, John Danalis had always been intrigued by the ‘star of Taroom,’ a half-buried rock with enigmatic patterns in his garden. His father, a travelling veterinarian, had acquired it as a memento from Taroom, 500 kilometres from his home in Brisbane. John Danalis had persuaded his father to return another ‘curio,’ an Aboriginal skull that had been sitting on their mantelpiece for quite some time. The love that this action evoked was a life-changing event for the older man, but because he did not live long enough to return the other artifact, his son assumed responsibility.
The star of Taroom is an ancient groove stone, a tool sharpener used by the Iman people as a waypoint directing people towards food sources and a boundary marker of traditional country. But over time, the stone has become a lot more than that. It has become a story of healing.
Rather than driving the 160kg ancient stone back to its home, John decided to walk it. What followed was a journey of healing and reconciliation. The stone is now located at the Wardingarri Keeping Place, located at the Taroom Museum and is available to view by appointment by calling 0409 663 701.
2. beautiful Betsy at Kroombit tops National Park
Beautiful Betsy is a story about an ex-military craft that completely disappeared on a voyage from Darwin to Brisbane in 1945. The aircraft left Darwin late in the evening but never arrived at its destination and it wasn’t until 50 years later, in 1994 that the crash site was discovered by a Park Ranger in Kroombit Tops National Park along with the remains of the 8 men who were on board.
Beautiful Betsy was believed to have crashed in the mountainous country during bad weather. The impact was so forceful the men died instantly and the plane’s belly broke into pieces that spread wide over the National Park.
Today, the site remains much the same (minus the skeletons and personal belongings) as it did all those years ago when it tragically crashed. With the nose, wings, and tail of the plane still relatively intact, the site is fascinating to walk through and piece together what actually happened.
Located in Kroombit Tops National Park, Beautiful Betsy is a must see when visiting the park. For directions on how to get to Kroombit Tops and the location of Beautiful Betsy see here.
3. Queensland Heritage Park in Biloela
You won’t need Google Maps when navigating to this local attraction. Just look for the brightly coloured silo in Exhibition Ave, Biloela.
Queensland Heritage Park is an invitation to immerse yourself in a complete snapshot of the region’s history. Built in 1988 to showcase Australia’s primary industries for World Expo 88 (remember that?!), the brightly coloured silo houses immersive snapshots of the pioneering past right through to modern times.
Get lost in the showcase of snapshots from the past, the scene set of times past such as a blacksmith shop, the dairy industry, canvas tents being makeshift homes, the farming life, and the life the men and women typically lived back then. All of this is set with giant murals as the backdrop creating a unique and transporting experience.
But that’s not all, the grounds showcase vintage machinery alongside an old Railway Station from the 1920’s and a 1930’s Presbyterian Church.
Queensland Heritage Park also offers low cost pet friendly camping suitable for motorhomes and caravans with a 48 hour limit. You can book at the Visitor Information Centre located onsite or phone ahead with the details listed here.
4. Moura Miners Memorial
A visit to the Moura Miners Memorial is a must do for all ages. Located in Gillespie St, Moura, the memorial structure has been built to honour the lives of 50 men that have died in mining accidents since 1961.
The Moura Community Progress Association spent a solid 5 years of planning to bring the carefully thought out design to life.
Visitors enter the memorial via a ‘mine shaft’. The shaft’s walls are lined with the names of those who died along with further stories of the disasters that claimed the lives of these men. The shaft leads to a spectacular domed roof that represents terrace mining. The domed canopy allows 50 light shafts to shine on a central circle flanked by seating on the ‘coal wall.’
Visitors with no prior knowledge of mining are encouraged to learn about the tragic loss and suffering that the Moura community, family, and friends have through as a result of each tragedy in the Moura Kianga Coal Fields.
5. Dawson Folk Museum in Theodore
Beyond the Great Divide, Theodore must be one of the most visually looking lush villages. It has the look of a coastal resort, being 140 metres above sea level and 559 kilometres from Brisbane via the Warrego and Leichhardt Highways.
This isn’t your typical country town in Queensland. The palm trees and tropical bushes that grow in the broad median strip that runs down The Boulevarde and culminates in a large and gracious roundabout surrounded by a series of attractive, wooden buildings, including the local police station, are the first thing a visitor notices upon entering the town
On the corner of Second Avenue and Western Lane, Theodore, is the Dawson Folk Museum. Housed in an old power house, the museum is a must do for history buffs.
Step back in time with a huge collection of regional relics, including an ancient telephone exchange and photographs depicting the town’s early past. The history of early station families, Aboriginal items, and farm machinery are among the exhibits.
If you visit between April and September, the Museum is likely to be open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Museum is only open by appointment outside of these hours. Phone Loraine on 0429 931 264.
Explore more of the sandstone wonders
Beat the crowds and step outside the norm for your next holiday – come and visit some of the unique favourite experiences of the Banana Shire. There are more than a dozen self-drive tour itineraries on the Sandstone Wonders website that helps you to plan your next adventure in the region.
For more details download the Sandstone Wonders regional brochure or pop into one of the local Sandstone Wonders Visitor Information Centres to get up-to-date visitor tips, brochures and maps.
Or check out some of the suggested self-drive tours.
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.