The tiny Queensland town of Theodore nestled on the Dawson River is one of those places that help ‘make’ a Big Lap … it’s unmistakably country, it’s quirky, and it’s completely and utterly unique.
Sitting about 220 kilometres west of Bundaberg, visitors here are immediately struck by the sheer luxuriance of the town. Theodore’s wide palm-lined streets are a throwback to its origins and a reminder of the grand plans of its architects to create a model ‘garden city’.
This was to be the urban centre of the Dawson Valley/Nathan Gorge irrigation scheme, which would see the creation of 5,000 irrigated farms generating produce for the world.
At the time, the modern town was promoted as offering ‘a solution to the problem of the cityward drift of the younger rural generation’. While a public hall with cinema and an electricity generation plant were built and the railway arrived in 1926, the proposed Nathan Dam – the centrepiece of the Nathan Gorge scheme – has yet to be built.
Nonetheless, the settlement which began life as Castle Creek and was later renamed after controversial Queensland Premier E. G. ‘Red Ted’ Theodore, has prospered in recent times. This is largely due to the area’s fertile black soils and the irrigation work that was carried out, and its proximity to coal mining in the Bowen Basin.
The community welcomes grey nomads and offers short stay camping at Junction Park by the Dawson River where there are hot showers on offer for a donation. The Theodore Showground also offers reasonably priced powered sites, and there is a dump point in town.
A 50-feet high water tower sits at the centre of this attractive town, and the Neville Hewitt Park and Rotary Park overlooking Castle Creek are great places to relax and soak up the country atmosphere.
There are a number of interesting buildings. One of the few remnants of the town’s original name can be seen on the main street where the Castle Creek Theatre is a dominant feature. Also of interest is the Catholic Church which is a great example of Queensland vernacular wooden architecture. But it is the Theodore Co-operative Hotel Motel which really captures most attention.
The pub is owned by local residents and all profits are used to fund community activities and projects. Also well worth a look are the historical artefacts housed at the Dawson Folk Museum, and the Theodore War Memorial which commemorates Australians who have served in all wars and conflicts.
Just 30 kilometres south of town along the Leichhardt Highway is the stunning Isla Gorge National Park with its dramatic cliffs, sandstone gorges and Aboriginal hand paintings.
It’s the sort of community and area that most grey nomads dream of discovering when they pull out of their driveways for the very first time