Warwick and Stanthorpe

by Roger Crates
(Currumbin Waters Qld)

Condamine River Warwick

Condamine River Warwick

If you get the opportunity for a weekend away from Brisbane, and want to get in some high altitude fun, no I didn't say high octane fun, I said high altitude fun, go for a drive out west.

Have a picnic at Lake Moogerah where there is what I think an unlikely place for a dam. The catchment is from the high ranges of the Great Dividing Range and the river that flows from it. Well, river might be overstating the water course but it does persevere and become, as it grows up, into the same watercourse we know as the Brisbane River.

From Lake Moogerah, head west up the Cunningham Highway and you will crest the gap between Mt. Cordeux and Mt. Mitchell.

Cunninghams Gap

The view is stunning but be a little wary as in most places the locals are only looking at how to get to work or home or wherever and not like you looking to turn around and park in the small lay by on the northern side of the road.

The name Cunningham is well know in explorer terms in Australia and this is simply one of his accomplishments. He specifically looked for a route across the ranges to help open up the Darling Downs region and the burgeoning markets of Brisbane and beyond.

The road is well constructed and, although a little steep at 8 degrees in places, it is safe and has plenty of forward vision even when seeped in fog as happens occasionally. The road then goes through a series of dales through the Glengallon Valley, until it meets with the New England Highway as that mighty road wanders South to the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. About fifteen kilometres further along and there is Warwick.

Warwick is the epitome of a modern rural town. Take a moment to see the wonderfully ornate Town hall. The region is blessed in that it offers the people on the land a variety of crops including cotton, wheat, barley and sorghum. Table vegetables are grown here as well. Livestock is the main source of farming. There are sheep, cattle and pigs which all thrive on the fertile gently rolling hills of the district.

Condamine River Warwick

The area is well served by the Condamine River as it flows its stately way south/east joining up with the Ballone and others to eventually enter the Murray River system making for South Australia and Lake Alexandrina, and eventually the Great Southern Ocean.

Warwick is actually responsible for the formation of the Commonwealth police as it was here in 1917 that the unpopular Prime Minister Billy Hughes, who was unpopular because of his insistence for Conscription, had an egg thrown at him as he addressed a crowd at the railway station. The egg thrower, who was plainly in sight and known, remained at large as the local Queensland police refused to arrest him. Such was the level of his unpopularity. The Prime Minister had his Commonwealth police within a very short time and we have had them ever since.

Leaving Warwick and heading further south about sixty kilometres we come to Stanthorpe, who disprove the theory that cold weather fruits cannot be grown in Queensland, as their wonderful apples and stonefruit thrive on the higher elevations of this lovely Darling Downs town.

Have another picnic at Quart Pot Creek just outside of town. The idea of a quart pot for a cup of tea is quintessentially Australian. I can hear the insects droning as I pull a couple of gum leaves of a eucalyptus tree to add to my billy tea before I swing it about in the way of the Australian bushman, before I cut open my steaming damper to have with my scalding black tea on a sweltering summer afternoon.

Quart Pot Creek Stanthorpe

Stanthorpe was originally a mining town with tin mines scattered around the place. In fact, the name of the town owes its origins to the many and varied groups of people who came here to mine the ore in 1872. "Stannum" is Latin for tin and "Thorpe" is an old English name for town so Stanthorpe literally means "tintown".

Wine is now part of the expanding agriculture base and I am told the Stanthorpians produce a very good drop of wine. Maybe it has something to do with the excess heat and cold that can be experienced in the region, or maybe it has something to do with the Granite in the earth.

The area is the start of the famous granite belt which stretches south and is one of the geographical features for hundreds of miles.

All in all the Stanthorpe and Warwick areas are delightful places to visit and naturally you must take a day or two to see the many and varied aspects to this lovely corner of Australia.

By Roger Crates. Roger has seen and done a lot in his life and he writes with humor and insight mainly about Australian themes. For more travel and humor visit Where's Roger.

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