Brisbane-Barcaldine via the Warrego
(Hwy 54) and Landsborough Highways (Hwy 71)
Total distance 1,075km.
All distances measured from Brisbane
You will need to navigate on to the Ipswich Motorway (Hwy 2) and this becomes the Warrago Highway (Hwy 54) when you reach the junction with the Cunningham Highway (Hwy 15) from the south. The highway by-passes the large and busy city of Ipswich and heads westwards towards Toowoomba. After the turnoff to the Brisbane Valley Highway (Hwy 17) we travel through the fertile Lockyer Valley and fruit and vegetable barns offer great value in fresh produce.
Just off the highway, Gatton and Laidley are important commercial and agricultural centres and serve a large surrounding areea where many and varied crops are grown thanks to the irrigation systems in use throughout the valley.
From here the road starts a long and twisty climb up to the top of the Dividing Range and the large and prosperous city of Toowoomba (128km) - Queensland largest inland city and the main centre of the extensive Darling Downs. With wide tree-lined streets, large department stores, fine parks and gardens, huge choice of restaurants and hotels, Toowoomba has much to offer the traveller and a few days here would be good preparation for the long stretches on the road west from here.
The ëDownsí can be very cold at nights in the winter so make sure you have something warm to slip on after dinner if you are staying in the area for a while.
From Toowoomba we turn north-west as we travel to the agriculteral centre of Oakey (158km) which is also well known as the base where Army helicoptor pilots train for operations. A bit further along the track and we come to the thriving city of Dalby (211km) which is a hub for a number of roads that intersect here including the Moonie (Hwy 49) and Bunya Highways (also Hwy 49). The Bunya Highway leads to the Bunya Mountains National Park with nuts from its Bunya Pines a seasonal treat in past years for the indigenous people of the district.
On the northern end of the Darling Downs we come to another thriving agricultural centre at Chinchilla (295km) which owes its prosperity to the Condamine River with water for irrigation making possible bountiful crops of grain, fruit and vegetables besides the production of beef cattle.
Still on the Downs another 45km sees us at Miles (340km) - another thriving agricultutal and commercial centre serving the grain and beef producing properties of the surrounding district.
An historic village here is well worth a look and the intersecting Leichardt Highway (Hwy 39) bears the name of Ludwig Leichardt, the explorer whose marches did much to open up this country before he tragically disappeared and was never seen again.
At Roma (480km) a centre serving the vast beef producing Maranoa district, you can visit Queenslandís most northerly winery. A road to the north would take you through Injune to the Carnarvon Gorge and the National Park surrounding it.
After Mitchell (567km) we carry on westwards to Morven (654km) before turning northwards to Augathella (737km) and the Landsborough Highway (Hwy 71). A detour of around 160km would take you to Augathella via Charleville - the centre of a huge cattle raising district on the Warrago River,
From here the highway passes through the little township of Tambo before reaching Blackall (957km) on the Barcoo River. A statue in the Main Street pays tribute to the legendary shearer, Jackie Howe, whose record of 321 sheep in just 7 hours still stands for hand shearing.
The town has been the site of serious flooding and some of the buildings in the shopping centre have marks on their inside walls showing how high the water reached during record floods.
We reach our destination at Barcaldine (844km) where the Capricorn Highway (Hwy 66) joins the Landsborough Highway (now becoming Hwy 71) to continue to Longreach and the Stockmanís Hall of Fame. The route from here on is covered in the section Rockhampton - Cloncurry via Capricorn and Landsborough Highways .