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Queensland Crossroads
After a brutal seven-year drought and now floods, the locals are rolling out the welcome mat to bring tourists back to this beautiful riverside region
Words and Images by: TYLER JEFFERSON

The river at dusk

St George is a town at a crossroads in more ways than one. This resilient riverside town in southcentral Queensland sits at the point where the country meets the Outback, green plains give way to red soil, and where two of Australia’s great roads, the Adventure Way and the Great Inland Way, cross.

It’s a philosophical crossroad too, as St George and the surrounding towns of Dirranbandi, Bollon, Hebel, Thallon, Nindigully and Mungindi look to transform themselves from a crossroad to pass through into destinations to stay at. This couldn’t come at a more important time, as brutal weather has left the Balonne River region in need of our support, like so many of the communities we’ve looked at in The Wanderer this month. The Balonne area have suffered first from seven years of drought, and more recently from floods that are only beginning to recede as we write.

However, Queenslanders are tough, and wild weather hasn’t been enough to prevent St George from remaking itself as one of Queensland’s friendliest destinations for RV travellers.

With its crossroad position, the area already sees plenty of wanderers passing through. In 2020, the people of St George and the Balonne region hope to entice more of those travellers to stop for days or weeks. With upgrades to RV-friendly facilities in town and a smorgasbord of activities and attractions to suit every kind of traveller, there are plenty of reasons to do so. Take in the natural beauty of the region with a cruise along the Balonne River. You can sample Queensland’s westernmost vineyard, Riversand Wines, at their cellar door along the Balonne River, open seven days a week. This family venture will host you for a free wine tasting in their garden cafe and offer delicious locally sourced food and country hospitality to go along with their boutique range of whites, reds, moscatos, ports and liqueurs.

If you’re looking to get in touch with a bit of Aussie history, the Bollon Heritage Centre nearby traces the region’s fascinating Aboriginal and rural history. 

If you’ve been enjoying the silo art phenomenon sweeping Australia, then you should know that Thallon’s ‘The Watering Hole’ recently won the top award at the inaugural Australian Street Art Awards. Thallon’s silos mural took out ‘Best of the Best’, along with the award for ‘Best Rural Art’, announced in November on the Sunshine Coast.

Expect a warm country welcome at some of Queensland’s most iconic country pubs, too. Be sure to grab one of the famous Road Train burgers at Queensland’s oldest hotel, Nindigully Pub, if you think you can manage it — most can’t handle this monster!

Be sure to stay in town for the Yellowbelly Country Music Festival and Thallon’s Grazing at The Watering Hole long table dinner, held at the painted silos.

Whatever your reasons for coming to town, St George is pulling out all the stops to get you to stay. This year has seen the launch of a new Grey Nomad Visitor Services Ambassador Program to encourage visitors. It’s perfect for anyone looking to stay and live like a local for a while. Ambassadors can get free camping for up to two months by volunteering at the St George Visitor Information Centre, and to help with local events.

There will also be opportunities to help out with community projects. If you’d like to really embed yourself into this picturesque community on the edge of the outback, get to know the locals and enjoy some country hospitality, this could be the perfect way to do it.

There are free campsites with some minimal amenities at Wallam Creek (Bollon), Nindigully Tourist & Visitor Area in Nindigully, Thallon Recreational Grounds in Thallon, Barwon River Crossing Park in Mungindi, Balonne Minor 3km west of Dirranbandi and Warroo Bridge 50km north of St George, if you’re looking for a minimalist outback experience. If you’re looking for a little more in the way of facilities, caravan parks throughout the region offer powered sites from $15 to $38 a night, and unpowered sites from $10 to $28. Contact the Balonne Shire Visitor Information Centre on 07 4620 8877 for more information.

Whether you’re headed from Brisbane to the centre of the continent along the Adventure Way or north from Sydney to Cairns, Port Douglas or Cooktown along the Great Inland Way, St George is a beautiful place to take a riverside break halfway.

Sunset by the Balonne River

Tags: Queensland QLD Floods Disaster Drought River St George Sunshine Coast Adventure Way
Category: Features
Written: Wed 01 Apr 2020
Printed: April, 2020
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