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Surat

Fresh air and great fishing are two good reasons to spend some time in the picturesque little town of Surat, midway between St George and Roma on the Great Inland Way.

But they're not the only things you'll find in this relaxed river town. Take your time to soak up the history of Cobb & Co, unwind on a river walk or picnic in the tranquil surrounds of the Balonne's riverside parklands.

Early mornings are gold for birdwatchers. Active types can get out on the river water skiing or jetskiing and then there's the fishing. The Balonne is an angler's paradise and locals are only too happy to swap fishing tips and recommend favourite spots to wet a line.

Steeped in history with links to Cobb & Co and the 'boom time' of the wool-growing industry, Surat is a 'must-see' for any history buff. Here you'll get a taste of life as it used to be. The Cobb & Co Changing Station, the original site of the Cobb & Co Store and a 'drop-off' point for coach travellers and goods, houses a museum of regularly changing displays depicting the lifestyles of yesteryear including a 14-seater Cobb & Co coach.

The complex houses the Surat on Balonne Gallery, featuring local and travelling exhibitions, and the Window to the Balonne Aquarium - a 25,000 litre fresh water aquarium displaying a range of native fish species.

Make a visit to the Aboriginal Interpretative Shelter, which displays family histories of Aboriginal families who lived on the site in the mid 1900s.

Nature lovers and photographers visiting from January to May will love Beranga Creek with its blanket of colourful water lillies.

Surat, Maranoa Area
Queensland
Australia

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Hebel Historical Circle

Hebel, Balonne Area
Free Entry
In the little town of Hebel it feels like time has stood still, leaving behind tales of the Ned Kelly gang, Cobb & Co, and dance halls. Hebel's interesting history has been narrated through the public art piece, the Hebel Historical Circle. Out of the red earth, tall timber posts hover over ten illustrated signs; each telling their own story of Hebel's history. Complete with play equipment, there is something to keep everyone occupied.

Daymar

Daymar, Goondiwindi Area
Daymar is a small rural community in South West Queensland, approximately 600 kilometres from Brisbane. Located south east of St George, Daymar is a lovely little spot to stop and stretch your legs. The community maintains a tennis court which is frequently used. Camping is the only option for accommodation in Thallon itself.

Dirranbandi

Dirranbandi, Balonne Area
Dirranbandi is located in the Balonne Shire and is a one and a half hour drive from the nearest major town of St George. The district around the town of Dirranbandi has been described as some of the finest wool growing country in Australia. As you enter the town, you'll pass by a levee bank which is famous for having saved the town from flooding on more than one occasion. Be sure pull in and stretch your legs along the walkway at picturesque Jack Dwyer Memorial Park upon the riverbank. On a visit to Railway Park, you'll find the 1913 Station Master's residence, which is now home to the Rural Transaction Centre, the old waiting room and parcels office, and the statue of Aboriginal Stockman and boundary rider, Tom Dancey, who won Australia's most famous footrace, the Stawell Gift in 1910. In 1885, the town site was surveyed and named Dirranbandi which means 'swamp abounding in frogs and waterfowl' or 'frogs around the waterhole.' Dirranbandi is the gateway to the Culgoa Flood Plains National Park. The park is situated on the Queensland/New South Wales border and is ideal for birdwatching. Visitors wanting to camp at the National Park should contact the Ranger in Charge or talk to the Balonne Shire Information Centre in St George. At the centre of a cotton-growing area, Dirranbandi's population almost doubles at harvest time when backpackers flock into town to pick the crop. Dirranbandi is also home to 'Cubbie Station'' which is believed to be the largest privately owned cotton property in the Southern Hemisphere.

Yuleba

Yuleba, Maranoa Area
To look at it on a map, Yuleba looks like a little town on the Warrego Highway about mid-way between Roma and Miles. Sure, it is a well-equipped little town offering many services for travellers, but it's also a place with a rich and important history and more than a thing or two to entice you to stay awhile. Yuleba features in the story of the Cobb & Co era, as it was between Surat and Yuleba that Cobb & Co scheduled its very last horse-drawn coach mail run on 16 August 1924. You can retrace that last run and visit sites of local significance such as the Cobb & Co Mural, Aboriginal native wells (also a pleasant picnic spot) and Cobb & Co Corduroys - where cypress pines were laid to make roads passable in the horse-drawn era. Keen fossickers can hunt for opalised and petrified wood and agates at The Maryanne, and there's plenty of room for bush camping beside the dam. Yuleba's scenic Judd's Lagoon and Wetlands is abundant in flora and fauna, providing a tranquil natural backdrop for bush camping and the perfect spot to relax and connect with nature.

Hebel

Hebel, Balonne Area
In the little town of Hebel it feel like time has stood still, leaving behind tales of the Ned Kelly gang, Cobb & Co and dance halls. Be sure to stretch your legs whilst walking around the Hebel Historical Circle, a public art piece which illustrates the stories in Hebel's history. Hebel Hotel is a gem of a country pub. Colourful artwork by John Murray adorns the front of the pub, with the interior decked out in recycled furniture made from reclaimed bush finds. It's the kind of quirky place you'll want to linger to get to know the locals over a cold beer. Built as a dance hall in 1897, Hebel General Store retains its original dance floor but now offers amazing home cooked cakes, desserts and meals. By night it's a restaurant under the stars complete with white tablecloths and flowers on the tables. Spend the afternoon fishing or setting the yabby pots in the Bokhara River, just a stone's throw from the main street. You can bush camp at the river or for a bit more comfort there are caravan and camping sites as well as air-conditioned accommodation on offer in town.

Talwood

Talwood, Goondiwindi Area
Talwood with its lawn and tree lined main street, belies its situation as a western town and brings to the fore the pride of the people in the area. A small town with a whole lot of community spirit that has grown to service the surrounding rural industry. The main annual event in Talwood is the Picnic Races which is held on the June long weekend each year and attracts people from all around Queensland and New South Wales.

Westmar

Westmar,
Westmar is a small town on the Moonie Highway. The Andersen brothers, owners of Western and Maranoa Transport companies, opened a fuel depot and rest stop at this location. The name Westmar was derived from the first part of the words WESTern and MARanoa. The community's roadhouse offers everything from fuel and groceries to an evening meal and a cool beer. The community holds gymkhanas, sports days and movie nights. Southwood National Park lies further east along the Moonie Highway.

Muckadilla

Muckadilla, Maranoa Area
Travel some 40 kilometres west of Roma, along the Warrego Highway and discover the whistlestop town of Muckadilla, or 'Mucka' as the locals call it. Once home to the famous Muckadilla Baths, this town may lack the bustle of bigger towns, but not the hospitality. While in Muckadilla you can stop and see the Whistlestop Railway Siding, take a walk through the native gardens alongside the highway and let the children play in the new playground equipment situated in the native gardens. Once you have finished exploring, pop into the local hotel and have a cool drink and a meal. This is the perfect place to meet some of the locals and have a chat about the town today and its history of years gone by.

Meandarra

Meandarra,
Meandarra is the hub of a prime production area of grain, cattle, and sheep and is the location of a popular fishing and camping spot. Meandarra is considered the cultural centre of the Tara area, with the historic School of Arts Hall, local artists and hand-crafts. This community has the largest store facilities for Queensland grown wheat, with harvesting from mid-October to mid-November. Brigalow Creek is well known for its water-lilies and fishing for golden perch and jewfish. Camping is permitted on the creek. Meandarra is home to an extensive display of military equipment. The fascinating display is on a modern broad acre, dry land farming and grazing property with cereal crop production and beef cattle. Also on-site, a native wildlife preservation programme offers excellent opportunities to observe and photograph a diverse range of flora and fauna. Stop off at the Leo Gardon Apex Park where free electric barbecues and picnic facilities offer pleasant surrounds.

Roma

Roma, Maranoa Area
A 350 kilometre drive north-west of Toowoomba, Roma is the quintessential country town, rich in pioneering history. As a visitor you can be assured of a warm welcome, plenty to explore and all the services a traveller could want. There's a varied calendar of events from Picnic Races, the Roma Cup and Easter in the Country, to the multicultural Santos Food and Fire Festival and all the fun of the Roma Show, so plan your trip to mix it with the locals. To get a real feel for the town, take a walk along the heritage-listed Heroes' Avenue planted with more than 100 bottle trees - each a memorial to a local soldier who lost their life in World War I. It is also worth a visit to the Mt Abundance Homestead - built in 1860, the site of the region's first settlement, which had important links to early explorers Sir Thomas Mitchell and Ludwig Leichhardt. Don't miss the Big Rig Oil and Gas Interpretative Centre and Night Show for an interactive insight into the hardships and heroic stories of oil drilling and exploration. Visit the 'Oil Patch' to get up close to impressive rigs and one of the first diesel powered rigs ever used in Australia. And remember, if you're keen to perch on a fence and watch the action at Roma Saleyards - the largest in the Southern Hemisphere - be sure to time your visit for a Tuesday or Thursday and you can witness the sale of up to 12,000 head of cattle in a single day.
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