Roma is one of those fascinating and surprising inland Queensland towns that helps to make the grey nomad adventure such a rewarding one.
While the town – located near the junction of the Warrego Highway and the Carnarvon Highway – is now very well known for the gas and oil that were discovered nearby, it has retained its historic country charm.
There is no greater way for grey nomads to experience this rural authenticity for themselves than to visit the Roma Saleyards on a Tuesday or Thursday to witness the spectacle of Australia’s biggest cattle sales, where up to 13,000 head can be yarded.
Cattle was at the centre of one of Roma’s most famous dramas when notorious cattle rustler, Captain Starlight, was sensationally acquitted of the offence by a sympathetic jury back in 1872. “Thank God, gentlemen, that verdict is yours and not mine!” the startled judge told the jury members.
The heritage-listed masonry court house where that historic legal scandal played out is still in use today, although not all subsequent visitors to the dock have been quite as lucky as Captain Starlight! Other interesting buildings in town include St Pauls Anglican Church complete with stain-glassed windows shipped from England, and a clutch of historic pubs including the famed White Bull Tavern.
Equally memorable is Heroes Avenue, a street lined by more than 100 bottle trees … a lasting tribute to the soldiers from Roma who fell during the First World War.
Despite its rich history, Roma is very much a town that is living in the present and the surge in population caused by recent mining activity has led to more cafes, restaurants, shops and services.
Once they have stocked up and settled in, most grey nomads head to the Big Rig, a multi-million dollar tourism complex which traces the story of the oil and gas industry since gas was first found here a century ago. There are a raft of displays, films, photos, exhibits and presentations. Brilliant stuff.
Roma also has a packed calendar of events, including the highlights-laden ‘Easter in the Country’ festival at Easter, and the Roma Cup horse racing meeting in November.
If grey nomads find all of Roma’s caravan parks booked out, there is camping at the Roma Showground and Racetrack Complex, and another alternative is camping at Meadowbank Station along the banks of the Bungeworogai Creek about 12 kilometres to the town’s west. There is a little museum here as well, where – by arrangement – visitors can see everything from horse-drawn vehicles and cross cut saws to vintage cars and old tractors.
In an ironic twist, it is Roma’s very uniqueness and individuality which make it so typical of Australia’s great Outback towns. It’s another one that most definitely shouldn’t be missed.