Farmer's Country Drive

This pleasant country drives starts and finishes at Toowoomba in the Darling Downs.

Start the day by heading for Oakey (27 km west). Like so much of the Darling Downs, Oakey was first settled in the early 1840s when pastoralists moved into the area and claimed large areas of land for grazing. At Oakey you can visit the Museum of Australian Army Flying.

Situated approximately 3 km from the town centre, the Museum's memorabilia includes aircraft, engines, uniforms, history of the Oakey Airfield and the RAAF's activities there, photographs and memoirs of Australian Army Aviation servicemen. A visit to the Museum of Australian Army Flying will take you back in time to see how “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines” progressed from the Boxkite to present day.

It's then continue to Jondaryan, visiting the historic woolshed. The Woolshed itself is an original sheep-shearing shed with a rich history. Jondaryan Woolshed cost 3,300 pounds and when it was completed in 1861, it was the finest in the colony. At the heart of the Jondaryan Woolshed is the museum village. Everything that is standing on this site is authentic from the original Jondaryan station. Open 7 days 9am - 4.30pm. (Only Closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day).

Drive north to Maclagan. Close by you can visit the Rimfire Winery and the Rangemore Estate Cellar Door, or drive east to walk through the disused Muntapa railway tunnel. The tunnel is signposted off the road between Cooyar to Kulpi and Acland (which is off the New England Highway). 15km south of Cooyar, it is Queensland’s longest straight railway tunnel (287m). It is also quite high being 640m above sea level. Now that trains don't roar through it the tunnel is a seasonal home to a colony of bent winged bats and the main feature on a walking trail. You can walk through the tunnel- a torch is a neccessity. This tunnel was on the branch line that was opened from Oakey to Cooyar in 1913 and was closed in 1964.

On to Cooyar and there's a circuit walk at the Palms National Park not far north of town. The main feature of the park is spring-fed gully filled with piccabeen palms. Strangler figs, bunya pines and hoop pines also predominate. The birdlife in the park is prolific. No camping is allowed in the park but picnics and bushwalks are catered for.

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The return trip through the eastern Darling Downs and the towns of Haden, Goombungee and Kingsthorpe. Returning this way allows wine buffs to do more tasting at Gowrie Mountain Estate and Wedgetail Ridge Estate. Haden, 50 km north of Toowoomba, is set high on the Great Dividing Range, resulting in a high number of windy days.

There is a picturesque lookout on the Haden-Maclagan Road to the west of the town. Goombungee hosts an annual Iron man and Iron women competition on Australia Day. There is also an historic museum and an art gallery. The name was derived from the Goonbungee pastoral run, taken up by Charles Pitts in 1847, east of Rosalie Plains.

Duration: half to full day.

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