Unlike the saying “All roads lead to Rome”, when travelling in Roma, Queensland, it’s not just about the roads that lead you there, but those that take you beyond.
Located 490 kilometres west of Brisbane Airport or just over one hour in a plane, Roma serves travellers a taste of country hospitality with a side of city-like amenities (read: Campos, All Press and Merlo barista-made coffees).
Once you’ve finished exploring the Big Rig, snapped a photo in front of the 9.51-metre-wide bottle tree and caught the cattle action at the Saleyards (Australia’s largest cattle selling facility) – you’ll find there’s plenty still to discover beyond the town’s borders.
Swap Roma’s history of oil and gas for ancient ecological sites of Carnarvon Gorge or cattle for cotton.
Get ready to hit the tarmac and red dirt and explore the roads north, south, east and west with this guide to Roma’s best day trips.
1. Roma to Carnarvon Gorge, Distance: 250km (one way)
Set your alarm early, lace up your hiking boots and set your GPS to Carnarvon Gorge.
Take the Carnarvon Highway north to explore this oasis in the middle of semi-arid Central Queensland.
Expect lush forest, flowing creeks and giant sandstone arches as you explore the 288-hectare Carnarvon National Park.
Although you could spend a week exploring Carnarvon (as known by locals), it’s still accessible as a day trip, with several short walks ranging from five to ten kilometres return.
Step it out along one of the family-friendly walks, like the Nature Trail (1.5km return), Micky Creek Gorge (3km return), or Rock Pool Walk (600m return) or flex your hiking muscle along one of the more energetic hikes Boolimba Bluff (6.4km return) or Moss Garden (7km return).
Keep your eyes and ears alert, this park is home to 173 species of birds, 60 different mammals, 22 kinds of frogs and 90 types of reptiles.
Prefer to be guided by your own ecological expert? Jump onboard an air-conditioned bus with Boobook Ecotours for their full day Discover Carnarvon Ranges tour, where you’ll have access to privately owned gorges and Aboriginal art sites.
2. Roma to Surat and Yuleba, Distance: 220km (round trip)
For a road trip steeped in history, follow the Cobb and Co Way – following the hoof-steps of Australia’s last horse-drawn stagecoach service between Surat and Yuleba.
From Roma, travel south to the town of Surat and visit the Cobb and Co Changing Museum to see a replica 14-seat stagecoach from the 1920s. Turn back the pages of history as you learn about families and workers of the stagecoach era through old artefacts and photographs.
Take a walk along the Balonne River, admire the art deco architecture of the Astor Theatre and learn about indigenous culture at the Aboriginal Traditional Campsite and
Interpretive Shelter before buckling in for your Cobb and Co journey.
Follow the signs for Tourist Drive 7 and keep your eyes peeled for the point of interest signs along the way – from the Corduroys to the Native Wells.
Once you arrive in Yuleba, stretch the legs along Bendemere Walk before driving to Judd’s Lagoon for a picnic lunch as you soak up the sounds of the bush at this popular camping and fishing spot.
Make sure you stop at Calico Cottage in Wallumbilla on your way back to Roma to pick up home-baked cookies and treats for afternoon tea.
Hint: Pick up a Cobb and Co drive map from the Big Rig in Roma or Visitor Information Centre in Surat, so you know what to look out for along the way.
3. Roma to St George, Distance: 196km (one way)
Take your tastebuds on tour with a road trip to St George, a town of 3,000 people sitting along the Balonne River.
Home to Queensland’s most western winery, stop by Riversands Wines to sample their range of red and white table wines, fortified and sparkling.
Stretch the legs and walk off the wine with a tour of the region’s most delicate artworks at The Unique Egg.
View the impressive collection of hand-carved, illuminated emu eggs by Greek emigrant and local artist Stavros (Steve) Margaritis.
While the eggs have toured the world, St George remains the only permanent location to see the collection which has been drawing visitors to the region for over forty years.
If you’ve timed your visit between May and September, make sure you detour onto the St George Cotton Self Drive Trail to see the local cotton industry in action and fill your Instagram feed with white fields.
4. Roma to Mitchell, Distance: 89km (one way)
Looking for a day trip low in mileage but high in relaxation factor? Set your GPS to Mitchell.
Day-trippers have been making the one-hour journey from Roma to Mitchell for its bushranger history and promise of rejuvenation.
Pin drop your first location to the Kenniff Courthouse to learn about Patrick and James Kenniff – two lawless brothers and Australia’s last known bushrangers – who were committed to stand trial in 1902 for stealing cattle, holding up the Yuleba general store and shooting a local police officer.
Once you’ve finished turning the pages of history, prepare to relax and unwind, as you soak in the naturally heated mineralised waters at the Great Artesian Spa.
Drawing from the Great Artesian Basin, the thermal minerals are known to relax tired muscles, ease tension and revitalise the body and mind.
Before returning to Roma, head seven kilometres south along the Mitchell-St George Road to the Arrest Creek Monuments.
The red sculpture located on the left-hand side of the road, designed by Artist Peter Baulch, depicts two police officers standing over the oldest of the brothers, while an Aboriginal tracker turns his back.