Explore Chinchilla: More Than Watermelons
According to Joe, one of the locals we met at the pub, the word Chinchilla comes from the local Aboriginal word for cypress pine, Jinchilla.
But Chinchilla is just not well known by the beautiful and rare Chinchilla wattle trees found in the Barakula forest. It’s rustic experiences and breath-taking beauty of the area draw visitors from across Australia.
Every two years, there is a Watermelon Festival where unique melon gymnastics are the order of the day – melon skiing, melon bungee, melon dash, pip spitting and…. you get the picture!
But Chinchilla has things to see and do all year around. You can stay at Kings Park Accommodation which will be worthy to experience some of the great attractions that the town has to offer to its visitors. Start at the visitors centre which is the ideal place to start for information, maps and even some local jam samples.
Here is a small list which will help you explore the town better and make your experience fun and exciting.
A visit to the markets (once a month, every 3rd sunday), where you can pick up some locally-made treats for the trip home, or find some second hand goods. Also, there is plenty of food and drink stalls, Toys, Jewellery, Gem-stones, Clocks, Fresh fruit and vegetables, Buskers and much more!
The town’s other major attraction is the presence of petrified wood in the area. There are some good examples at the Museum but the best example is in the main street of town next to the Library in Fuller Park.
There have also been finds of fossilised Pentoxlin trees, a rare tree where each branch grew separately from the tree roots to the branch extremities. The only other finds of these fossilised trees has been in Peru. It is possible to go fossicking for petrified wood, agate, quartz, and jasper in the area. You do need a fossicking license (obtainable from the visitors centre). Heritage listed Chinchilla Sands,is one of the significant fossil sites in Australia.
Molluscs, frogs, fish, birds, reptiles including fresh water turtles, crocodiles, skinks, geckos, snakes, goannas, extinct Kangaroo’s, Lions, Tigers and many more members of the mammal families have all been found here.
Chinchilla Folk Museum
A highlight of any visit to Chinchilla must be a visit to the Chinchilla Folk Museum in Villiers Street (it is to the south of the town) which specialises in transportation and has one of the country’s true rarities – a copy of the first ticket ever issued by Qantas to a Mr A. Kennedy for the first flight from Longreach to Cloncurry.
The museum has a huge display of working steamengines, a rare three cylinder engine which can move effortlessly into a reverse cycle, and extensive displays of dairy equipment, clothing and the usual materials of a folk museum. It is also home to the old Wongongera Slab Cottage, which dates from the 1880s.
Chinchilla Weir situated on the Condamine River is considered to be a great venue for water sports. The grass is cut, there are plenty of Gum trees that provide shade in summer and Picnic shelters with tables & chairs, wood bbq’s,Toilets, Boat ramp and plenty of car
Many people enjoy fishing around the shores of the river, but remember, if you catch Carp or Talapia, then these must be destroyed, not thrown back into the lake, or used for bait, as these are “Pest Fish.”
There can be quite a few Boats out on the water, towing skiers, tubing, wake-boarding, kayaks and Jet-skies, all looking to be having a great time. NO Boat, no problemparking. Expect to see Kangaroo’s in the paddocks next door at dusk and dawn, and plenty of Parrots and birdlife, swing on a rope and land in the water, or just go for a swim to cool off!
Boonarga Cactoblastis Hall
It is one of the unusual forms of a memorial hall ever made in the entire world. The hall is made in honour of an insect. When cactoblastis succeeded against the prickly pear cactus, the Boonarga Cactoblastis Hall was constructed by the farmers as a sign of relief. The hall holds an historical significance to the defeat of the prickly pear league which was a major event in the history of the Australian agricultural history.