Goondiwindi

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The Victoria Hotel in Goondiwindi, Queensland
The Victoria Hotel is an unusual historic building in town Pic: Tourism Queensland

For grey nomads seeking a friendly country town with an interesting history, a scenic river, and some great camping opportunities … all roads lead to Goondiwindi, almost literally.

Located on the border between New South Wales and Queensland, the attractive Darling Downs community sits on the junction of no less than five major roads … the Cunningham, Newell, Bruxner, Barwon and Leichhardt Highways.

Happily, for a town which pretty much can’t be avoided, it has plenty to offer the adventure-seeking traveller. The mighty Macintyre River marks the border between the states and it also offers a serene and scenic centrepiece to the growing settlement. The iconic Border Bridge, which spans the waterway, was built in 1914 and played a vital role in freight and custom duties between New South Wales and Queensland.

Those lucky enough to visit in late spring will see this attractive town at its most splendid when the jacaranda trees lining the streets burst into vibrant purple bloom. The historic community which grew up in the 1840s as a riverside camp for the teamsters bringing supplies from northern New South Wales is also blessed with some stunning heritage buildings.

One of the most eye-catching is the Victoria Hotel, which was built in 1898. It boasts wide verandahs and an unusual tower which makes the beautifully preserved building highly distinctive. The hotel has recently been fully renovated and is a ‘must-stop’ destination.

The other ‘standout’ building is the Customs House which was built in the mid-19th century, and served as a border customs point before Federation. The authentically restored building now houses a fascinating museum, and both its gardens and Martha’s Cottage next door are well worth a look.

More recently, Goondiwindi – which has a population of about 6,000 – has earned fame through a horse named Gunsynd, which became known as the Goondiwindi Grey. In the 1960s and 1970s, the horse had 29 wins and came third in the 1972 Melbourne Cup. It was then immortalised by Tex Morton’s 1973 hit song, ‘The Goondiwindi Grey’. Today a statue beside the river in Apex Park reminds grey nomads and other visitors of glories of Gunsynd. Alongside it, is the Gunsynd Museum, which is packed with trophies, rugs, memorabilia and photos of the equine legend.

Other interesting points of interest in the area include the Texas Regional Art Gallery, the Australian Tobacco Museum, the Pioneer Cemetery, and the Macintyre Ginnery … where raw cotton is processed. Tours of what is one of world’s largest cotton gins are only available from April to September.

As a town which services a larger rural population, Goondiwindi offers visitors great facilities and shopping. It also has a number of excellent caravan parks, as well as offering half a dozen or so camping reserves along the border rivers to the east.

No wonder they built so many roads to allow grey nomads to get here!

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