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If mother nature had children, Western Downs would be the spoilt one.

From dense rainforest in the mountains and lush lagoons, to fields as far as the eye can see, you can indulge in it all west of the Great Dividing Range.

With so much at your fingertips, you can choose how to acquaint yourself with your new surroundings; whether it be a relaxing introduction or a busy catch up.

Here’s the how and the where to get up close and personal with nature in the Western Downs.

Where to immerse yourself in natural beauty:

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While beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, there’s no mistaking the landscapes of Western Downs as anything other than downright stunning.

Be transported to another world with a drive deep into the Bunya Mountains, as the townships of Dalby, Bell and Jimbour are replaced with misty visions of dense rainforest.

Park up the car and lace up the boots to switch modes of transport for a walk along one of the national parks’ many trails.

For an experience straight from a meditation app, opt for the path towards Tim Shea Falls and be lulled by the trickling water.

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If you’re an avid gardener, swap the untamed wilderness of the mountains for the perfectly manicured gardens of Jimbour House - the Western Downs’ version of Downton Abbey.

Take a stroll around the outdoors of this heritage-listed residence and learn about its history from the plaques placed around the gardens.

Drive another 20 minutes south and pair your afternoon tea with a splash of tranquility with a picnic and walk along Myall Creek in Dalby. Pick up some cheese and dips from a nearby deli and settle in by the river alongside the ducks and flocks of white cockatoos.

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Where to get amongst nature to experience action:

Whether you like to experience nature actively or passively, you’ll be happy to know the Western Downs delivers on both fronts.

Cast a line at Gil Weir in Miles, Caliguel Lagoon on the outskirts of Condamine, and Tara Lagoon in, you guessed it, Tara. Here you’ll find some of the best fishing in the state with Yellowbelly, Murray Cod, and Golden Perch just a few up for grabs.

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If fishing doesn’t get you hooked on these Western Downs waterways, the endless watersport activities will.

Only a thirty-minute drive from Dalby, Lake Broadwater is a summer vacay dream; think kayaking, canoeing, boating, swimming - and that’s just on the water.

Take your sea (aka lake) legs back to dry land and you’ll discover a campground, picnic areas, and walking tracks that weave around the lake and its bushland surrounds.

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Psst - it’s worth an early wake up to see the sunrise, and yes, you are seeing double. The still lake mirroring the sun makes for a picture-perfect morning.

From Dalby, point your bonnet northwest along the Warrego Way to Chinchilla and an extra 45km north will lead you to Barakula State Forest.

As the largest state forest in the southern hemisphere, you know you’re in for plenty of adventure with a network of bitumen and dirt roads, which are four-wheel-drive ready.

Set up camp (with a permit of course) and spend your days birdwatching amongst the cypress and ironbark trees.

Where to connect with flora and fauna:

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If flowers take your fancy, then you’ll be smitten with the variety on offer across the Western Downs.

Take a stroll along Chinaman’s Lagoon in Miles during the summer and autumn months and you’ll be treated to hundreds of pink, purple, and white water lilies in full bloom. Stay a while and soak up the serenity of these endangered species.

For a walk on the wild side, head deep into Barakula State Forest and spot its renowned wildflowers, which are best seen in the late winter and spring months.

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Not only does the Western Downs boast an array of flora, but the region is also popular with native animals, big and small.

With around 342 species of birds calling this natural paradise home, there’s no shortage of spots to birdwatch.

From woodland, heathland, and forest to wetland, savannah, and rainforest, check out any natural landscape in the Western Downs and use our guide to tick off the list of birds as you spot them.

For a hangout with the locals (aka kangaroos), set up camp at Lake Broadwater or the Bunya Mountains, where these bouncy friends love to get up close with visitors (especially those with snacks).

Where to stay:

Take your nature adventure up a notch and check in at one of these accommodation options to immerse yourself in the 24/7 nature experience on show in the Western Downs:

  • Settle in with a cuppa at a local farm stay, where a typical afternoon consists of horse-riding and afternoon tea in the garden.
  • The Laurels at Chinchilla takes waterfront accommodation to a whole new level with boutique cabins on the banks of Charley’s Creek.
  • Escape civilization with a stay at Possum Park, approximately 20km north of Miles. Choose from camping and caravan sites, cabins and even a train carriage to bunk in across 360 hectares of property.
  • Set up camp across the region and take your pick from riverbank, forest, bushland, or lakeside sites.

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Acknowledgement of Country

Southern Queensland Country Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the lands and waterways that run through these regions. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past, present and emerging.