Quilpie is the business centre for the Quilpie Shire and is located on the Natural Sciences Loop Road approximately 950km west of Brisbane. Don’t let the remoteness of this shire put you off - the little town of Quilpie is alive and well, with a very visitor-friendly community!
When visiting the Quilpie Shire make your first stop the Quilpie Visitor Information Centre, Museum and Gallery. The friendly local staff are extremely knowledgeable about the area and can help you make the most of your visit. Ask them about the exciting day trips from Quilpie to surrounding towns or jump aboard their guided town bus tour on Mondays or Wednesdays and learn about the history from a local perspective.
The Quilpie Visitor Information Centre is in itself one of the town’s attractions. While you’re there, have a look through the Regional Art Gallery featuring exhibitions from both local and travelling artists. A museum features an interactive display of the Quilpie Shire’s remarkable pioneering history. How it all began is a real eye opener! Then head next door to the Military History Museum.
The Quilpie Shire shares more of its history through other museums. Visit the Powerhouse Museum which still has one of the original diesel engines and the Airport Mini Museum where you can learn about the old Woolscour that once stood on the site or about famous aviatrix Amy Johnson who landed in Quilpie on her solo trip from England to Australia.
Quilpie Shire is famous for boulder opal and it is celebrated in the most magical of ways with the opal altar, lectern and font at St. Finbarr’s Church. The church is always open and is a must to see while in Quilpie.
Just 6km from Quilpie is the beautiful natural Lake Houdraman, a real oasis for locals and visitors alike. Have a picnic under the shady river red gums lining the bank or take a walk and spot some of the unique birdlife that calls this lake home.
Travel 7.5km from town and you will find Baldy Top and Table Top Lookouts. Just a short stroll to the top will give you an amazing panoramic view of the area, giving you an insight into the remoteness of the region. If you’re a budding photographer, be sure to be at the top at sunset and capture a spectacular outback sunset!
Quilpie is the world’s largest producer of boulder opal. Try your luck at the free fossicking area on the outskirts of town. No permit is required here, and you could find a piece of beautiful opal to take home with you. Fossicking for opals at designated fossicking fields, however, does require a current fossicker’s permit. These can be obtained from the Quilpie Mining Registrar or online. The Duck Creek and Sheep Station Creek designated fossicking areas are located 40km from Toompine.
Adavale is the oldest town in the Quilpie Shire and is located 96km north of Quilpie. It was once the central town of this area and plays an important part in the history of the Quilpie Shire. See the Outdoor Museum and the Police Hut Museum to learn about some of their intriguing history. Community spirit and town pride are strong in this tiny outback town so call into the Adavale Pub and have a chat to the locals about the history and stories of the Adavale area.
Eromanga is 108km west of Quilpie and is famous not only for being the furthest town from the sea in Australia but also for its mass production of oil each year. This region is part of the Cooper Basin, which is home to Australia’s largest onshore oil and gas development. This part of the world has also become known for a significant discovery of dinosaur bones and a museum celebrating the prehistory of the area is in the early stages of construction.
While you’re in town, visit the Object Theatre to hear stories told by locals and get a feeling for the rich history of this outback town. There’s a film to watch as well as photographs and historic items on display. A self-guided walk with interpretive signage of the historic sites is a good follow-up to your visit to the theatre.
The Royal Hotel is the keeper of the key for entry into the Object Theatre and also has some tourist information available. The mud-and-brick structure was one of the original buildings of the Cobb and Co route and opened its doors in 1885.
The Eromanga Natural History Museum, just 3km from Eromanga, is now open.
The complex currently consists of a gigantic climate-controlled workshop and a vision, but there is no doubt that one day the vision will become a reality including a gallery so expansive that a reproduction dinosaur 6.5m high and 30m long can fit comfortably inside. In the meantime, the 30m by 15m workshop is the museum as well as the site of tonnes of paster-jacketed dinosaur bones waiting for the work that will set them free from surrounding.
With many successful dinosaur digs already having been undertaken and more fossils being added every year, the museum is already so much more than its original find, known as Cooper. Cooper provided a phenomenal starting point as it was the largest dinosaur found in Australia to date and the first titanosaur of its kind ever discovered. Added to the original find are exciting megafauna and flora, so there’s more than enough to keep you enthralled during the hour-long tour which is offered at the centre and which brings an amazing timeline to life right before your eyes - 95 million years in 60 minutes.
All visits to the museum involve guided tours. In the season there will be guided tours every weekday starting at 10.00am, 12noon and 1.30pm (the last tour finishes at 2.30pm). As demand increases, the centre will be open on weekends and more tours will be added. Phone ahead to check on (07) 4656 3084. If you’re a grey nomad, a good time to visit is Seniors Week as entry is free to those with a government-issued seniors or aged pension card - but you must prebook.
Situated along the route known as the Dowling Track, 80km south of Quilpie is Toompine, known locally as ‘the pub with no town’. Once a bustling town serviced by Cobb and Co coach services, the settlement dwindled until now all that remains is the Toompine Hotel. Don’t worry though, Toompine is full of character. Check out the blue tractor up a high pole and discover why the local Cemetery is called the ‘Cemery’.
Cheepie is the smallest of the Quilpie Shire towns with a population of just one. For a short time from 1914, Cheepie was the railhead from Charleville and at its peak had a police station, blacksmiths, butchers, bakery and organic vegetable gardens. Take a detour between Charleville and Quilpie to view the old Cheepie Railway Station.
Quilpie Visitor Information Centre
Phone (within Australia) 07 4656 0540