As we headed outback this winter, instead of forging due west from St George, we took a detour – full of gems!
We followed the Balonne River into town, stopping at the Beardmore Dam picnic area for lunch.
There are four caravan parks in town – we chose the Pelican’s Rest Caravan Park just east of town on the Cararnvon Highway.
St George Caravan Park is opposite the bridge and Major Mitchell Monument. You’ll also find Murray the Cod here. The Riverway really makes the most of the Balonne with walkways and picnic areas.
I didn’t think a cellar door would be on the cards for south west Queensland – so we happily perched at the bar. Whilst our teen devoured a hot chocolate, we sampled their wares.
St George also has a river cruise, artesian hot baths, a guided heritage tour as well as The Unique Egg. The St George Bakery Pizza also delivers pizzas to the caravan park, and we are told they are delicious!
Only 45 km away, you’ll find the famous Nindigully Pub, and their mammoth Road Train Burger. $80 worth of a 1.2 kg meat patty, 1 kg bun served with a 1 kg of potato wedges. We settled for a drink, but the pub was preparing for another huge night. I wonder how many they cranked out?
The campgrounds are extensive, following the Moonie River – wander through them on the historical Gully Walk. You can access amenities at the hotel, all for a donation.
Visit the boomerangs from Paperback Hero, Hugh Jackman’s first movie (and a great one, with Claudia Karvan). The signage along the river is interesting, as are the hats and memorabilia inside the pub.
Just 33 km on, are some of the most striking silos I have seen – and you can camp beside the artwork. The recreation grounds are pet friendly, and have plenty of amenities all for a few dollars a night.
We also said hello to William Yaminon, the wombat and the ANZAC Digger at the playground. You’ll see the pub opposite – which is also a freedom camp, and there is another river camp called outside town.
There are also self guided history trails – to walk or drive, and more murals in town.
Travel south from here to explore the border town of Mungindi, only 40 km away. There’s a pub stay and another freedom river camp on the Barwon River.
On a straight west road, 64 km from Thallon we arrived in Dirranbandi, famished. Knowing there was a Russian bakery, their pies (and a sausage roll for me) hit the spot. We also picked up a few sweet treats – vanilla slice and Turkish delight.
Dirranbandi have a caravan park, but as we drove towards Bollon, we popped into the Balonne Minor Bridge and decided it was our campsite for the night!
For me it was the beautiful river and riverbank, there was only a scattering of vans parked up, and it was well off the road. The boys however, loved that the mobile reception was excellent. It was State of Origin night, and it is the only time we get the TV out.
Whilst they set up, I read my book down on the bank. We had a cracking night under the stars, despite a NSW win and a few rodents skirting through the grass!
In the morning we heard Archie’s stories of tapping his swag roof to hear mice ‘plop’ onto the ground. Glad I was in the van.
We continued 104 km northwest back onto the Balonne Highway, or you could return to St George 69 km away – or south to Hebel on the border, and onto NSW’s Lightning Ridge, with more hot baths in Goodooga and Grawin.
Bollon was another interesting stop. There were toilets and hot showers for travellers in the town’s Walter Austin park. Creekside, it would be a lovely spot for a picnic under the beautiful palms and arches.
Instead we tried out Deb’s Cafe across the road – and boy were those burgers impressive and delicious. Heatley tried the Bollon Burger – at $15-90 it had steak, a meat patty, bacon and egg! Plus really, really more-ish chips. Mine was a regular burger and just as tasty, our ravenous son was flat out finishing his chicken and chip roll.
I brought home art from the gallery, chatted at the Heritage Centre and we checked out the spacious Wallam Creek Camping Area – a donation site. The Bollon hotel is also a freedom camp. What a great town!
You can comfortably drive from St George to Dirranbandi or even Bollon in one day. Given a choice I would meander more slowly and spend at least a night at each one to really experience the wonderful towns, pubs, caravan parks and riverside camps.
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