2019 - 10 Days: A Special Corner of South East Queensland featuring The Tilt Train from Brisbane to Rockhampton

An iconic rail journey to Rockhampton is the first leg of this 10 day tour of Coastal and Central Queensland. Nearly 700ks north of Brisbane is the city of Rockhampton where, like many parts of Central Queensland, the cattle trade is the dominant industry. Located on the Fitzroy River “Rocky” as it is known locally, is the 4th largest city in the State. Just under 300ks to the west of Rockhampton is Emerald – an administrative centre for a large number of industries including coal, cotton and other agricultural activities including grape, citrus and grain growing. Emerald is also well known for the local gem fields to the west of the town. South of here is Roma – located in an area known as the Maranoa. 

The cattle industry here is a big deal! The largest sale yards in the southern hemisphere are located in Roma - where up to 12,000 head of cattle can be sold in one day.

Roma Sale Yards

Roma Sale Yards

Day 1 (D): Melbourne to Brisbane (Friday)

Welcome to our special 10 day tour to South East Queensland featuring a ride on the recently upgraded Tilt Train from Brisbane to Rockhampton. We will be collected from our club this morning for the transfer to Melbourne Airport to connect with our nonstop flight to Brisbane. Our local touring company will collect us from Brisbane Airport for the transfer to our city based hotel.(Lunch own arrangements & cost/Welcome dinner)


Day 2 (BD): Tilt Train to Rockhampton (Saturday)

One of the best ways to see the stunning scenery between Brisbane and Rockhampton is to take a ride on Queensland Rail’s regular daytime rail service between the two cities. The mid-morning departure from Brisbane’s Roma Street is operated by the recently refurbished Electric Tilt Train - big viewing windows, on board catering and reclining seats makes for a relaxed and enjoyable day. It will be an enjoyable and comfortable way to begin our tour of Central Queensland. Our touring coach will meet us on arrival into Rockhampton for the transfer to our hotel. (Breakfast in the hotel/Lunch own arrangements on the Tilt Train/Welcome dinner in the hotel)



Day 3 (BLD): Exploring Rockhampton (Sunday)

Rockhampton is Queensland’s fourth largest city, located on the Tropic of Capricorn. “Rocky” began as a settlement on the Fitzroy River around 1853. Its now a city of 80,000 plus and home to some grand old architecture. 

 We will be joined today by a local who will show us the local Botanic Gardens considered to be amongst the best regional gardens in Australia and the Archer Park Rail Museum. Next stop is at the Capricorn Caves - the oldest privately owned tourist attraction in Queensland. Olsens Capricorn Caves were first discovered by John Olsen, a Norwegian migrant, in 1882. The 16 caves were formed from an ancient coral reef some 380 million years ago. We enjoy lunch here before we take a guided tour of the chambers, with easy access and flat walking trails. We return to Rockhampton for a second night before heading inland tomorrow to Emerald. (Breakfast & dinner in the motel/Light lunch at Capricorn Caves)


Day 4 (BLD): Heading Inland (Monday)

This morning we have planned a visit to Mount Morgan – about 40ks south west of “Rocky” This was once the site of one of the world’s largest gold mines – and today the heritage listed mine is well worth a look. In addition we will get to see dinosaur footprints that were found in the area at the Michael Durant Fossil Display. Late morning we join the Capricorn Highway and travel west passing through Duaringa, a tiny settlement of less than 500 people, for lunch in the historic Duaringa Hotel. Some sections of this building date back to the 1880’s! 

From here we continue on the Capricorn Highway, through the small towns of Dingo & Bluff, to Blackwater. The town got its name from the colouring of the local water supply by Ti trees which are common in the area. Blackwater is, in many ways, a model of how the community as a whole can be shielded from the grime of coal mining. The coal is shipped to Gladstone by electric trains, consequently there are no coal trucks choking up the roads in the area and the mines are far removed from the town. On our arrival we visit the very interesting Blackwater International Coal Centre. We also stop briefly at Lions Park where they have the flags of 37 nations flying. The idea was to have a flag for every nationality working on the coalfields. It is recognised as one of the largest flag displays in the world. Next is the Coal Face Memorial, which recalls all those miners killed in accidents at the Blackwater Pits. Before departing Blackwater we see the War Memorial. We now check in to our accommodation at the Emerald Meteor our base for the next 2 nights. (Breakfast & dinner in the motel / lunch at Duaringa Pub)

Western Gateway Motel, Emerald - 07 4980 0500  


Day 5 (BLD): The Gemfields (Tuesday)

We have a fascinating day in store starting with the sights of Emerald including an interesting tour of the Agricultural College & cattle property to see the work being done by the students. Oh, and the largest painting in the Southern Hemisphere is here - an imitation of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers!! This is located at the end of the Federation Mosaic. Mid morning and we are off to the Capricorn Hinterland & the largest Sapphire Gem fields in the Southern Hemisphere. First up we visit the Emerald Pioneer Cottage.

Built in 1880 it houses photos, memorabilia and models of the old town centre, and is arguably the finest building in the area. We see the Fossilised Wood, estimated to be 250 million years old. At Kaesbi Gardens we have the opportunity for a morning break (at own expense) in this delightful nursery. Now it’s off to the Gem fields!!! Arriving in Anakie the Gateway to the Gemfields, we visit the Gemfields information Centre which is home to a variety of attractions. First off we will see The Big Sapphire, a replica of a 5,080,000 carat sapphire.  We have some time to explore before heading to Sapphire for lunch and some fossicking at Pat’s Gems Tourist Fossicking Park.  Hopefully with a few Sapphires of our own in tow, we now head off to Rubyvale for a visit to Miners Heritage, Australia’s largest underground sapphire mine. We enjoy a guided walk in mine tour, discover the process of underground sapphire mining & wonder at the amazing array of colours. At Rubyvale Gem Gallery we view the showroom displays then relax with the resident rainbow lorikeets in the award winning garden.  Our dinner tonight will be at the Rubyvale Hotel before returning to our accommodation in Emerald. (Breakfast in the hotel / lunch at Pat’s Gems / dinner at Rubyvale Hotel) 

Western Gateway Motel, Emerald - 07 4980 0500 

Day 6 (BLD): Emerald to Roma (Wednesday)

Our morning stop as we head south towards Roma is at the Old Rainworth Fort just south of Springsure. Built in 1862 following the Wills Massacre in 1861, the Fort is built of local basalt boulders and roofed with galvanised iron. From here we continue to Injune located 90 kilometres north of Roma at the base of the majestic Carnarvon Ranges. Mid afternoon we arrive at Roma – our base for the next 3 nights. (Breakfast & dinner in the motel/Picnic lunch) 

Overlander Homestead Motel, Roma 07 46223555

Day 7 (BLD): Roma/Sale Day (Thursday)

Tuesday and Thursdays are Sale Days in Roma so this morning we are heading off for an overview of the Roma Saleyards (easy walk/no stairs) Roma Saleyards is Australia’s largest cattle selling centre. On any given sale day, the yards can see up to 14,000 cattle sold through the complex. Now, local retired farmers and graziers give their time as volunteers to show visitors through the complex.

After the sale we head out to the first settlement in the area – Mt Abundance Homestead - a heritage listed homestead built in 1860. On the road into the homestead we cross Bungeworgorai Creek on the sandstone wall of the dam built by Chinese labourers in the 1880’s. The Homestead owners will take us on an interesting and informative guided tour, including the first Post Office in the Roma district which operated from within a section of the homestead from 1860 to 1864. We will also see the underground cellar lined with locally hand-made bricks as well as some early grave sites. Mt Abundance was the location where Ludwig Leichhardt wrote his last letters on 5 April 1848 before setting off on his fatal expedition. After morning tea on the verandah of the Homestead, we return to Roma for lunch at the Big Rig Café, followed by a self guided tour of the Roma Big Rig Oil Patch. The outdoor museum tells the story of the formation of gas in coal reserves, its first discovery in Roma (and indeed the first discovery in Australia); the progression of the industry and finally, the indoor theatre for what is happening in the field, today. The rest of the afternoon will be free for personal sightseeing. 

Bottle Tree, Roma

Bottle Tree, Roma

You might be interested in the 3D Heritage Mural, located in the Roma Cultural Centre. This mural was produced by local sculptors and is accompanied by an audio presentation, providing an interesting overview of the history and lifestyle of Roma. There is also Roma’s largest Bottle Tree located in Edwardes Street. Roma’s biggest bottle tree was transplanted by Roma Town Council from a local property, in 1927. At its last measurement, the tree measured 9.1 metres around the trunk. Heroes’ Avenue is a heritage listed avenue of Bottle Trees.

Each tree pays tribute to a local soldier who lost his life in the First World War. There is also Roma on Bungil Community Arts Centre which is open daily. (Breakfast & dinner in the motel/Light lunch at the Big Rig Café)

 Overlander Homestead Motel, Roma 07 46223555

St Paul’s Anglican Church, Roma

St Paul’s Anglican Church, Roma

Day 8 (BLD): Roma/Surat (Friday)

With the help from a locally based guide we enjoy an introductory tour of Roma, with an insight into the early settlement and progression of Roma - and indeed an insight into the history of the Maranoa.

We will take in many historic buildings and sites including St Paul’s Anglican Church which features stunning leadlight windows, each with a story

Mid morning we head south to historic Surat located on the banks of the beautiful Balonne River. We have arranged a fascinating visit to the Cobb & Co Changing Station Museum where we will be welcomed by a local volunteer. The Museum is built on the original site of the Cobb & Co Store – and was once the drop off point for coach passengers and goods. Included in the current display is a 14 seat replica Cobb & Co Coach, a 25,000 litre fresh water aquarium and a display of local artworks at the Surat on Balonne Gallery. Nearby a light lunch will be served at the Community Centre alongside the Surat River Walk on the Balonne River. 

Cobb and Co Changing Station Museum, Surat

Cobb and Co Changing Station Museum, Surat

Early afternoon we head back to Roma prior to tonight’s entertainment – Roma’s Big Rig Night Show. The Night Show is an outdoor cinema with an interactive display depicting a traditional oil rig site. The show itself is thoroughly entertaining, giving an overview of the discovery of Oil and Gas in Roma (for the first time in Australia) and the progression of Australia’s Oil and Gas Industry. (Breakfast & dinner in the motel/Light lunch at Surat)

 Overlander Homestead Motel, Roma 07 46223555

Big Rig.jpg

Day 9 (BLD) Back to Brisbane (Saturday)

After breakfast this morning we farewell our hosts and begin the trip home. Our morning stop is at Miles two hours east of Roma. The Miles Historic Village and Dogwood Centre is a must see in this area. With over 30 buildings and countless displays this has become an important tourist destination, featuring authentic and original buildings from the 19th and 20th Centuries. We will spend some time here including morning tea before pushing through to Dalby for a pub lunch and then back to Brisbane for our final night on tour. (Breakfast in the motel/Pub lunch at Dalby)


Day 10 (B): Brisbane to Melbourne (Sunday)

Breakfast in the hotel this morning before our local transfer to Brisbane Airport for the return flight to Melbourne. Our local touring coach will meet us for the transfer home. (Breakfast in the hotel/Lunch own arrangements and cost)

Tour Price

2019 - Friday departures (subject to availability)

From $2798 per person twin share PLUS Air

Add $580 for a guaranteed single room

Tour Inclusions

Tour Price includes accommodation as per the itinerary, meals as indicated (B= Cooked breakfast, L= Light or packed lunch, D = Buffet or limited choice dinner), deluxe touring coach with seatbelts, attractions/entries as noted & return airport transfers. Return non-stop flights between Melbourne and Brisbane with Virgin Australia to be added. The tour price (from $2798 per person sharing a twin/double room) is dependent on a minimum of 30 paying customers (Departure dates subject to availability) Should the number of bookings not reach the minimum of 30 the following rates apply –

Minimum 25 people - from $2890 per person

Minimum 20 people - from $3075 per person

Virgin Australia flights to/from Brisbane are an additional cost of approximately $295.00 per person depending on the time of travel. Full details, terms and conditions will be advised at time of booking. Not available during school holidays or over Long Weekends.

Personal Travel Insurance is strongly recommended.

Terms and Conditions

To arrange a tour for your club simply call Cesare Cataldo at Australian Road Journeys on 0477 640 527 with your preferred date of travel – he will do the rest! When everything is confirmed he will provide 50 colour “flyers” for distribution to interested club members. Simply collect a $200.00 fully refundable deposit from each person who wishes to travel. The final balance is due six weeks before departure. No cancellation fees apply prior to the final payment date. A cancellation fee of $200.00 per person applies if cancelled after final payment has been made – no refund if cancelled within 7 days. 

All itineraries are subject to change due to occasional restrictions in opening times/days of some attractions, e.g. churches, wineries etc.  We cannot be held responsible for any changes due to closures, inclement weather etc.