If you live by the words of Janet Jackson’s 1992 hit ‘The best things in life are free’ then you’ll want to put Southern Queensland Country on your to-travel list.
From exploring local street art to stepping it out through ancient national parks – our region will keep you busy without the need to tap the debit card.
Regardless of which part of our region you choose to explore, we’ve got you covered with these free things in each pocket of Southern Queensland Country.
1. Take a street art tour of Toowoomba
ICYMI: Toowoomba’s street art scene has grown to over 50 murals since the first brushstrokes hit the bricks back in 2013.
Whether you’ve walked the streets before or it’s your first time ticking the giant elephant or three wise monkeys from your mural list – use this guide to kickstart your self-guided tour of Toowoomba’s street art scene.
2. Go bushwalking
Immerse yourself in eucalypt forests along one of the walking trails in Crows Nest National Park, located less than 50 kilometres from Toowoomba CBD.
With three main walks to choose from, ranging from 2.1km (return) to 4.5km (return), you’ll have plenty of time to throw down the picnic blanket and relax before jumping back in the car.
For a fuss-free picnic, stop by one of the local towns along the way to pick up treats to enjoy after your walk.
3. Get active at Cressbrook Dam
Fill the esky, grab the picnic blanket, throw in the volleyball or hook up the boat for a day at Lake Cressbrook.
A local favourite for ball sports, water sports or just kicking back, there’s plenty of activities to keep you busy, both on and off the water.
If you haven’t BYO’d your own boat, pack your joggers and step it out along the 7.5km walking trail from the boat ramp along the water’s edge before tracking back through bushland.
4. Grab your binoculars and go birding
Birding, birdwatching, twitching – whatever you like to call it, the Western Downs region is full of feathered friends waiting to be found.
With over 342 species of birds to discover, you’ll want to stop by one of the local Visitor Information Centres and pick up a free copy of Birds of Western Downs to help guide you to the best spots.
Extend your birdwatching overnight and pitch your tent at one of the Western Downs best campgrounds.
5. Take a selfie at the Big Melon
Tick off one of Queensland’s ‘Big Things’ with a selfie in front of the Big Melon in Chinchilla.
The giant melon has been welcoming visitors since 2018, and is hard to miss standing nine-metres high next to the Visitor Information Centre on the Warrego Highway.
Allow enough time to explore Australia’s watermelon capital following this guide.
6. Step it out in Dalby
Tie up your laces and take a stroll along the Myall Creek Parklands Precinct in Dalby.
Located one street away from Cunningham Street, learn about the region’s history one-step-at-a-time through the interactive plaques dotted along the creek bed.
Keep your eyes and ears alert for the call of local birdlife and don’t forget to take a copy of Birds of Western Downs with you to match the birdcall with its maker.
Get in the know with Dalby’s other attractions here.
7. Go off-road along the Link Trail
Heard of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail aka BVRT?
There’s now two more trails on the map, adding an extra 55 kilometres of dirt and dust adventure to the 161 kilometre BVRT.
Grab your mountain bike and jump on the Link Trail to explore the country backroads from Kingaroy to Nanango (34km one way) and the old stock route from Nanango to Yarraman (21km one way).
Don’t worry about packing lunch, refuel at a local café in Nanango along the way.
8. Take a drive to discover local museums and art galleries
Sunday drives are a goer any day of the week when visiting South Burnett’s local museums and art galleries.
Put Blackbutt into your GPS as the first stop and stretch your legs at the Roy Emmerson Museum before continuing to the Nanango Energy Centre, Kingaroy Museum and Wondai Heritage Museum.
Finish your day with a history lesson on dairying at the Queensland Dairy and Heritage Museum in Murgon.
9. Take a dip at Coomba Falls
Save this activity up for a hot day, and enjoy Mother Nature’s answer to a swimming pool at Coomba Falls.
Located only two kilometres from Maidenwell, a visit to this local watering hole is best enjoyed coupled with a picnic.
Pick up local supplies and spread out the picnic rug before you take a refreshing (read: icy) dip in the water.
Southern Downs and Granite Belt
10. Step it out to Balancing Rock
Not all national parks were created equal and Girraween National Park proves the point.
Known for its granite boulders, follow the signed tracks to its most popular attraction: Balancing Rock – a ten-tonne, seven-and-a-half-metre-high, six-metre-wide boulder ‘balancing’ on a one-metre base.
Before you put on the walking shoes, make sure you read this guide to help plan your day’s adventure.
11. Visit Queen Mary Falls
For an adventure that ignites all five senses, head to Queen Mary Falls in Main Ridge National Park.
Take a stroll along the 400-metre (return) cliff circuit or the two-kilometre (return) Queen Mary Falls circuit and take in the sights and smells of the eucalypt forest, as you listen to Spring Creek cascading.
Find a spot on the lawns or shaded picnic tables to enjoy snacks with the sound of Spring Creek pouring over the rock facade from 40 metres to the valley floor as your backdrop.
12. Take a walk through the sunflowers
Make your Instagram followers double-tap with envy as you surround yourself with giant sunflowers.
You’ll need to time your visit between December and March (summer months), Southern Queensland Country to see these floral giants in bloom across the region.
To help you on your flower-finding way, follow this sunflower trail.
13. Visit the GrainCorp Silos in Yelarbon
If you want to see what can be achieved in two weeks with thousands of litres of paint and eight disused silos then make tracks to the GrainCorp Silos in Yelarbon, 190 kilometres south-west of Toowoomba.
Get a sense of life in the region as depicted by a local boy playing in the lagoon surrounded by local flora and fauna.
If you’ve got more time to explore the region, put these water tanks and other painted silos on your itinerary following this guide.
14. Throw down the picnic blanket at Yelarbon Lagoon
Take a stroll one kilometre from the GrainCrop Silos at Yelarbon to see the location that influenced its design, the Yelarbon Lagoon.
Located on the aptly named Lagoon Street, fire up the barbeque or take the lid off the picnic basket as you relax waterside.
15. Take a street art tour in Goondiwindi
While public art is often credited to professional artists, Goondiwindi showcases the artwork from its local residents – including Goondiwindi State High School students.
Head to Bowen Lane – the main street showcasing its public art scene to see the local brushstrokes along the brick wall and concrete pillars.
If you’ve got time, continue your street art tour to nearby Inglewood and Texas to see the farmer painted on the side of the Commercial Hotel or horse and Carriage outside the Royal Hotel.