Camping in Pumpkin Country, Qld

By: Chris Whitelaw, Photography by: Chris Whitelaw


More than just the home of the Pumpkin Festival, Goomeri has plenty to offer caravanners and campers.

People -at -the -market -in -Dickinson -Park

The little town of Goomeri (pronounced goo-merry) straddles the junction of the Burnett and Wide Bay highways, about 240km north-west of Brisbane, Qld. Its annual Pumpkin Festival is reason enough to visit this charming place but after spending a couple of days exploring the district, we discovered a whole bunch of other things to see and do here in the heart of the South Burnett.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

European settlement in the Goomeri area began around 1843 with the establishment of large pastoral holdings at Boonara Station and Barambah Homestead (now heritage-listed), both of which grew into self-sufficient villages during the late 19th century.

Goomeri itself was originally a railway siding used primarily by timber hauliers and local farmers. A land sale in 1911 opened up 12,000ha of rural allotments and town blocks for settlement, which drew hundreds of new residents to the area and permanently established the township. Goomeri is sometimes known as the Town of 1911 in honour of this famous land sale. Many of its buildings were constructed during the 1920s-40s and retain all the charm of that interwar era, giving the town an art deco atmosphere.

HERITAGE-LISTED MONUMENTS

The -Hall -of -Memory -in -Pumpkin -Country -Qld

Two prominent landmarks are still very much part of the town’s landscape and were added to the Queensland Heritage Register in 1992.

The War Memorial Clock (1940) stands on a traffic island at the highways’ intersection and commemorates the 21 local servicemen who died in the First and Second World Wars. It is one of the few memorials in Queensland in the form of a clock tower and is even more unusual for having the words ‘Lest We Forget’ in place of numerals on the clock face. Goomeri is also sometimes known as the ‘Clock Town’ because of it.

War -Memorial -Clock -in -Goomeri

The impressive Hall of Memory (1926) occupies an elevated site on Boonara Street and also commemorates the town’s fallen servicemen. Inside the main room of the hall is a timber roll of honour inscribed with their names, as well as 21 individual bronze plaques with an inset photograph of those honoured.

CHERBOURG ABORIGINAL COMMUNITY

Cherbourg is an Aboriginal community, 22km south-west of Goomeri, with about 2500 residents. The town (originally called Barambah) was founded in 1904 as a government reserve and populated by Aboriginal people who were forcibly removed under ‘protection’ legislation from as many as 28 different tribal lands across Queensland and northern New South Wales. Today, under the banner ‘Many People, One Mob’, the community is run by the Cherbourg Community Council, which is composed of respected elders and is part of the South Burnett Local Government Association.

The -Ration -Shed -Museum -in -Pumpkin -Country -Qld

The community has much to offer visitors, who are always welcome. Two community ventures worth seeing are: the Cherbourg Emu Farm, the first of its kind in Queensland, which provides breeding stock for other growers, emu meat for the restaurants, emu leather for export and emu eggs for local egg-carvers; and the Cherbourg Tourist Centre, built on a hill overlooking Lake Barambah, which sells a wide range of Aboriginal souvenirs, fine art and craftworks.

BOAT MOUNTAIN REGIONAL PARK

Woman -on -a -walking -trail -in -Pumpkin -Country -Qld

This small park, 20km west of Goomeri, offers amazing views from lookouts on its distinctive flat-topped ridge shaped like an upturned boat. At 589m, Boat Mountain is a local landmark in the area and the headwaters of four creeks. The mountain is covered in a mixture of softwood scrub, vine thicket (dry rainforest) and open eucalypt woodland, in which more than 130 plant species may be found. Wildlife lovers will also enjoy spotting 46 species of birds and some of the many animals that inhabit these forests. The park can be explored by several walking trails, ranging from 370m to 2.2km, that connect the lookouts and loop through the forests. Although camping is not allowed, picnic tables on the edge of the bush provide a delightful day-use area.

KINBOMBI FALLS CAMPGROUND

Woman -sitting -at -Daniels -Lookout -on -the -northern -end -of -Boat -Mountain

About 9km east of Goomeri, accessed by the Wide Bay Highway and Kinbombi Road, lie Kinbombi Falls and a free bush camping and picnic area. The large campground occupies open bushland, which provides shade to the many level grassy sites suitable for rigs of all sizes, and is serviced by flush toilets, tank water and picnic tables. Its quiet location close to town makes it a popular venue for short-term campers.

The falls are a series of rapids created by Kinbombi Creek cascading through a narrow ravine to a spectacular gorge beneath the camping area. A large natural pool at the base of the falls makes a great swimming hole after recent rain. Concrete steps lead from the carpark to a series of viewing platforms on the way to the bottom of the gorge. Another walking track along Razorback Ridge offers breathtaking views before dropping steeply to the valley floor.

BJELKE-PETERSEN DAM (LAKE BARAMBAH)

The -Bjelke -Petersen -Dam

Lake Barambah, just 26km from Goomeri, was created in the early 1980s when the Bjelke-Petersen Dam was built across Barkers Creek to supply water to the upper areas of the South Burnett. The lake takes its name from one of the original sheep stations in the district and, with 1,450,000 megalitres of water covering 2500ha, it is one of south Queensland’s largest inland waterways.

The fishing here is superb. BP Dam (as it’s also known) is routinely stocked with Golden Perch (or Yellowbelly), Australian Bass, Silver Perch and Saratoga (for which a stocked impoundment permit is required) and you can also catch red claw (no permit required). The Bjelke-Petersen Dam Family Fishing Classic is held here every October.

Boats -and -cars -at -Lake -Barambah

Yallakool Tourist Park offers inexpensive, high quality caravan, camping and cabin accommodation on the lake’s foreshores, along with tennis courts, a children’s playground, in-ground swimming pool, amenities blocks, a central kiosk, extensive landscaped picnic and barbecue areas and two boat ramps. A picturesque and well-maintained day-use area at the dam also makes a great location for a picnic beside the lake.

SOUTH BURNETT WINE TRAIL

The -South -Burnett -in -Qld

The South Burnett is Queensland’s largest wine region and Goomeri is the northern gateway to a Wine Trail that extends over 60km to Nanango, connecting more than 20 wineries and cellar doors. Five of the best are located around Moffatdale, within a 15 minute drive from Goomeri’s Memorial Clock tower. The town is also well known for its gourmet food - local cheeses, olives, Bunya nuts, capers, jams, chutneys, smoked smallgoods – all good enough for a picnic hamper, an al fresco happy hour or a fine dining experience.

The full feature appeared in Caravan World #567. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!