The banks of the Condamine River might well be the last place you’d expect to find some of Queensland’s most prestigious sandstone buildings, but the little town of Warwick proves it’s more than just roses and rodeos with every visit.
The main street’s sandstone architecture, which now services a town of just 15,130 people, points to a vibrant past that’s 150 years young.
Turn back the pages of history and learn more about this darling town on the Downs, with this guide to the things to see and do in Warwick.
1. Explore Warwick’s historic houses on the five walks of Warwick
You can leave your car in the garage once you’ve checked into your accommodation in Warwick – the best way to get around is foot-power, taking one (or all) of the five walks of Warwick.
The five different walks are suitable for all levels of fitness and flexibility – the CBD Walk, Dairy Walk, Railway Walk, ‘Weewondilla’ Hill Walk and River Walk.
Each route on the self-guided touring map is graded, so you know what you’re getting yourself into – whether that be steps, paved footpaths or seating along the way.
If you have brought your birdwatching book with you, set your sights on the 2.5km River Walk to see hunting grounds for fish-eating birds – herons, cormorants, darters, kingfishers, and pelicans.
Once you’ve ticked off these five walks and graduated to longer trails, you might like take your walking shoes off-road near Warwick with a bush walk through Queen Mary Falls, Main Range National Park, Cunningham’s Gap and Goomburra State Forest, all nearby.
Pssst – if you’d like to sleep in one of Warwick’s historic buildings you can too, simply check into Abbey Boutique Hotel, whose walls date back to 1891.
2. Smell the roses and torque the talk
The town of Warwick didn’t earn its title as the rose and rodeo capital without having something to prove it.
As you approach the city, you’ll see Warwick’s rose plots, which get consistently thicker the closer you move towards the CBD.
To stop and smell the roses, pay a visit to the Visitor Information Centre, Warwick Art Gallery and the Warwick and District Historical Society Museum, whose garden beds burst into bloom in the warmer months.
While Warwick’s roses might be soft, fragrant and delicate, the town has another side worthy of mention.
Warwick promises a bloomin’ good time for horsepower enthusiasts, with both the Warwick Rodeo and the Morgan Park Raceway, one of Queensland’s premier motor sport events, held each year on its events calendar.
3. Camp at Goomburra Valley Campground
Some destinations have the effect of being able to make your shoulders just drop the minute you arrive, and Goomburra Valley Campground is one of them.
Perhaps it’s the fact there’s no phone reception the minute you pass the Goomburra Hall, but a better explanation is its location, just five kilometres from the World Heritage-listed Main Range National Park.
If they were measuring serenity on a Richter scale, Goomburra Valley Campground would be off the chart.
Whether you’re staying in a tent, caravan or have opted for bunkhouse style accommodation, you’ll wake up and fall asleep to the sounds of the birdlife of the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforest.
For those that choose their campsite for the ability to light a fire, you’ll be happy to know this is a campsite that’s firepit friendly – perfect for those winter camping nights.
4. Take in the views from Mount Castle Lookout
They teach you at school not to judge a book by its cover, but what they should also teach you is not to judge a hiking trail by its length.
The Mount Castle lookout track, which is only 960m return might be small in size, but it’s big in views, looking over the Laidley Valley, Little Liverpool Range, Mount Castle and Brisbane and beyond.
While you need just shy of three hours to drive to Mount Castle Lookout, you only need 30 minutes of walking time to access some of the best views from the Southern Downs.
Feast your eyes on the rainforest whose hoop pines, red cedar and New England Blackbutt are all distinctive of the area.
5. Chase a waterfall at Queen Mary Falls
Not all waterfalls are as accessible as Queen Mary Falls, but a short walk from the car park to the lookout will have you gazing out at the 40m drop.
If you’re up for a short walk, take the track to the valley floor to see Spring Creek drop 40m from the floor below.
The landscape changes across the 2km circuit trail, from dry eucalypt to lush rainforest at the bottom of the gorge – this is part of the World Heritage-listed Main Range National Park after all.
If Queen Mary Falls has wet your whistle for waterfall chasing through Southern Queensland Country, keep your walking shoes handy for these must do waterfalls and waterholes.
6. Enjoy a pub lunch at a country pub in Leyburn, Allora or Killarney
Museums are only one place to learn about the history of a town, the other is the local pub where you bet the walls can talk.
If you fancy yourself a country pub connoisseur there’s plenty to find in Warwick’s surrounds if you want to make your tour progressive.
Find yourself a designated driver and kick off at the Royal Hotel in Leyburn, which has been serving patrons since 1863. Learn about the history of the pub, which is said to be the oldest continually licensed establishment in Queensland while you tuck into a steak sandwich, chicken schnitzel or rib fillet.
To round out your country pub crawl, stop into Killarney’s Hotel-Motel, which stands like a grand old lady on Willow Street with its double wrap around verandas, perfect for watching the world go by.
With accommodation onsite, there’s not far to travel if you get chatting with one of the locals.
7. Go boating, camping or fishing on Leslie Dam
If your idea of a good time involves a tent, tackle and a tinny, may we introduce you to Leslie Dam.
There are two camping areas to choose from to base your adventure – Washpool Camping Reserve and Lake Leslie Tourist Park – both of which require you to book ahead.
If you’ve BYOB(oat) you’re free to hit the water with a maximum speed of 40-knots, following the boating rules that apply to the current water conditions.
From the water, cast off for the chance of reeling in golden perch, silver perch and Murray cod, best served fresh on one of the BBQs at the nearby picnic areas.
Looking for more action after Warwick:
- Continue further on the Cunningham Highway west towards Goondiwindi, ticking off these 10 things to do
- Take the New England Highway south towards Stanthorpe, where you’ll find these 8 Stanthorpe wineries to sip, savour and swill your way around
** Please check the availability of all operators prior to travel as opening hours and experiences may vary with COVID-19**