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Dalby, QLD

Major regional commercial centre known as the Hub of the Darling Downs

Dalby is a large and prosperous rural service centre located in an area of fertile volcanic soil. It is surrounded by fields of wheat, cotton, mung beans, sunflowers, sorghum, millet and barley. Although the area is known as Queensland's wheat centre - it has the state's largest grain receival centre - it also produces stud cattle, sheep, pigs and angora goats. The region's thriving cotton industry spreads from Dalby, south to Goondiwindi and west across to St George. Add to this its importance as a centre for natural gas, coal and power generation and it is easy to understand that it is one of the state's most important regional industrial, agricultural and manufacturing centres. Dalby has pleasant picnic spots beside the river, an attractive park in the centre of town, wide country town streets (particularly Cunningham Street, the main thoroughfare) and plenty of attractions for visitors.

Location

Dalby is located on the Myall Creek 208 km west of Brisbane via Toowoomba and it is 342 m above sea-level.

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Origin of Name

Dalby was reputedly named after the tiny village of Dalby on the Isle of Man by the surveyor, Captain Samuel Perry, in 1853. It is also open to witticisms with a disgruntled local councillor, tired of the lack of commitment from the local community, deciding that the name should be an acronym for 'Do a little bit yourself!'

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Things to See and Do

Dalby Heritage Trail
There are twelve places of interest listed on the Dalby Heritage Trail (see http://www.dalby.info/html/heritage_trail.asp and a map of the route can be downloaded at http://www.dalby.info/images/cbd_map.jpg. The most interesting are:

1. St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church
Located on the corner of Cunningham Street and Bunya Street, St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church was consecrated in 1921. It is notable for its interesting use of different coloured bricks which give the building a Romanesque style. The church features columns topped by arches in the dome, doors and windows. The barrel ceiling is made of pressed metal and the Rose window is a memorial to the fallen of World War I. The Stations of the Cross are particularly impressive.

2. St John's Anglican Church
Located 153 Cunningham Street, St John's Anglican Church "is the third church of that name on the site and was designed by Henry James (Harry) Marks and built in the 1920s ... An elegant composition in the Gothic revival idiom, the building is sheltered by a steeply pitched roof clad with fibrous cement shingles and the buttresses and external walls are of brown face brick embellished with white cement copings and mouldings. Cruciform in plan, the transept accommodates a clergy vestry and a choir vestry and the west end a baptistery flanked by entrance porches. The nave is lit by lancet windows five of stained glass and one of coloured glass to the north and two of stained glass and two of coloured glass to the south. Both vestries are lit by lancet windows of coloured glass. Circular lights are over the external entrances to the vestries and oval lights decorate the internal doorways from these spaces. The light over the south entrance is now without its coloured glass. Internally, these windows are embellished with plain hood moulds. The east end accommodates the Mulholland memorial window, a fine stained glass window comprising three vertical arched panels crowned with three diamond-shaped lights depicting the Transfiguration. The Geizel memorial window, depicting St Cecilia, lights the baptistery." For a more detailed description check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=602399. Note particularly that pieces of stone from cathedrals around the world are set in the Sanctuary Wall.

4. Old Police Station
Located at 132 Cunningham Street opposite the Country Club Hotel, this building was constructed in the mid 1860's to house a police office, lock up cells and living quarters.

5. Dalby Town Council Chambers and Offices
Located at 133 Cunningham Street and designed by Hall & Phillips in 1932 for £5,075, the Council Chambers are a fine example of the Art Deco style which was fashionable at the time. The Queensland Heritage Register notes: "The Cunningham Street section has a symmetrical facade with art deco detailing, consisting of a centrally located, projecting portico with a recessed entrance, flanked by three long, narrow casement windows surrounded by moulded architraves. Fluted pilasters are located on each side of the windows. The double, timber-panelled entrance doors have a breezeway with decorative leadlighting" and argues that the significance of the building lies in the way it is "an example of an interwar building with Art Deco elements especially the decorative moulded relief work." For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=601018.

6. CBC Bank Building 
Located at 122 Cunningham Street, this unique, half-timbered building was originally the old CBC Bank, the first bank in Dalby. Note the stained glass in the windows and pressed steel walls and ceiling. The building retains the original bank safe and an unusual "snow porch" over the front door.

9. Cactoblastis Cairn. 
Located in the park between Myall Creek and Marble Street, the Cactoblastis Cairn (a small granite cairn) is a reminder of the prickly pear plague in the district and the unusual solution. The cairn has the following inscription: "In 1925, Prickly Pear, the greatest example known to man of any noxious plant invasion, infested fifty million acres of land in Queensland, of which thirty million represented a complete coverage.  The Dalby District was then heavily infested. The biological control investigation was undertaken by the Commonwealth Prickly Pear Board, the joint project of the Commonwealth, Queensland and New South Wales Governments.
"Early in 1925, a small number of Cactoblastis Cactorum insects was introduced from the Argentine by Alan Parkhurst Dodd, O.B.E., who was officer-in-charge of the scientific undertaking.  They were bred in very large numbers and liberated throughout the prickly pear territory.  Within ten years, the insects had destroyed all the dense masses of prickly pear.
"This plaque, affixed by the Queensland Women`s Historical Association on Thursday, 27th. May, 1965, records the indebtedness of the people of Queensland, and Dalby in particular, to the Cactoblastis Cactorum, and their gratitude for deliverance from that scourge." For more information check out http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/disaster/plagues/display/91268-cactoblastis-memorial.

10. Dalby War Memorial and Gates
Located in Patrick Street, the handsome war memorial and gates are heritage listed. They were designed by local monument mason, Harry Shill, with contributions from British firms who contributed to the design of the stone and bronze soldier statue. It commemorates the 64 local men who were killed and the 360 men who fought in World War I. The Queensland Heritage Register notes: "This particular digger statue is rare as one of only two in Queensland which are cast in bronze and one of only two known works by London sculptors John Whitehead and Sons in Queensland. It is also an uncommon example of a memorial still situated in its intact setting." For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=600441.

Other Places of Interest
The Crossing
'The Crossing' memorial, commemorating the first European settlement of the area, is located between Myall Street and Myall Creek. It is on the corner of Myall Street and Edward Street. It was here that a camp was established on what would eventually become the township of Dalby by Henry Dennis, who was seeking land on behalf of his wealthy employer Charles Coxen. The sign on the plaque reads: "The Crossing - So named by early travellers because near here was the crossing place of the Myall Creek; it then being on the only track available to and from the few pastoral holdings lying to the west. The first known white man to pass this way was Henry Dennis. He camped about this spot in 1841. After that time the crossing became a well known rendezvous for squatters, stockmen, shearers, fencers and teamsters and other grand old pioneers of those days."

St Columba's Convent
Located at 169 Cunningham Street, this huge convent was built in 1913 for the Sisters of Mercy. It was designed by George Bernard Roskell as a student hostel and accommodation for the nuns. It cost £7,267. "The Dalby Herald described the new convent as Gothic in style, standing on a large site, on solid foundations four feet deep, reinforced with rolled joists, bolted together under all the walls of the structure, creating a singular solid frame. Entry to the property was through ornamental iron gates composed of crosses with the name St Columba's Convent emblazoned on them in brass. A gravelled path led to the central main entrance, which had a simple gabled portico again lettered with the name of St Columba's. The front verandah featured sections of cast iron balustrade and all were ten feet wide. Flooring throughout was crows ash." The Queensland Heritage Register notes: "St Columba's Convent is an outstanding and highly intact example of a Sisters of Mercy convent and boarding facility built to serve the prosperous Darling Downs town of Dalby. On Cunningham Street the former convent retains its commanding presence, while its exterior displays further principal characteristics of a building of this type: triple-gabled street facade employing Gothic motifs and a perimeter of timber verandahs. In terms of layout and interior finishes, the former convent is also highly intact and therefore strongly illustrative of this type of cultural place: including ground floor chapel and sacristy, stained glass and leadlight windows, decorative timberwork, refectory and reception rooms and first floor nun's cells and boarders' dormitory with a pressed metal ceiling." For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=602761.

Dalby Olympic Swimming Pool
Located at 58 Patrick Street, was built in 1936 and is recognised as the earliest Olympic pool in Queensland outside Brisbane. The style is the same as the Piscine des Tourelles which was used in the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris. The Queensland Heritage Register notes of its importance: "The Dalby Swimming Pool complex, constructed and opened in 1936, is important in demonstrating the development of competition swimming in Queensland. As an Olympic standard pool built in the 1930s, it illustrates the surge of public interest both in competitive and recreational swimming during the interwar period. As a facility which demonstrated how artesian water might be used to the advantage of a community, the Dalby Swimming Pool also is important in demonstrating the pattern of Queensland's history. It is also important in illustrating the 1930s expansion of civic work in the former prickly pear belt, following the eradication of this pest in the late 1920s and early 1930s. As land cleared of prickly pear cactus was utilised for agriculture, grazing and dairying, towns throughout the prickly pear belt, especially Dalby, Chinchilla and Miles, experienced renewed growth and prosperity." For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=602564.

Pioneer Park Museum
Located at 17 Black Street, the Dalby Pioneer Park Museum has one of the largest collections of tractors and agricultural equipment of any museum in Queensland. As well it has a number of interesting buildings, including an old school, a colonial cottage, a well-preserved blacksmith's shop, rooms with early photos, an historic phone exchange, historic dentist's chair and equipment, hospital equipment, and an original jail building with antique firearm collection. There is also an impressive rock and fossil collection. For more information check out http://www.dalby.info/dalbymuseum or tel: (07) 4662 4760. It is open from 8.00 am - 5.00 pm daily.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Bunya Mountains National Park
Located 62 km north-east of Dalby via the Bunya Mountains Road is the Bunya Mountains National Park which contains the world's largest stand of bunya pines. It is still possible to find scars on the pines where Aborigines cut footholds with their stone axes so they could clamber up the trees to get the sweet bunya pine nuts. Each cone holds around 120 nuts. It is estimated that some of the bunya pines are over 500 years old. They were regarded as sacred by the indigenous locals who came to the area for a bunya feast when the cones were ripe and the nuts were in abundance.
The obvious starting point is the Bunya Mountains Information Centre which is located near the Dandabah Picnic Area. It is usually open during the afternoon but, if not, there are numerous outdoor displays in the Picnic Area.
The National Park covers 11,700 ha and has camping grounds and excellent bushwalking. The official website (https://findapark.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/bunya-mountains) notes of the fauna and flora: "Take your binoculars as you walk to spot some of the park's 120 species of birds. Look for brilliantly-coloured Australian king-parrots and crimson rosellas and the blue-decorated bowers of the satin bowerbird. Spotlight at night to spy common ringtail possums and watch red-necked wallabies lazing around the picnic areas."
There are nine major walking tracks in the park all of which are described in detail at https://findapark.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/bunya-mountains/journeys:

* Barker Creek Circuit - a 10 km circuit (about 3-4 hours) of medium difficulty, from the Dandabah Picnic Area, which passes through rainforest, visits four waterfalls (Paradise, Little, Tim Shea and Big Falls) and journeys past bunya pine and hoop pine forests.
* Barker Creek Lookout Track - 5.4 km one way (2 hours) from the Paradise Car Park which follows Barker Creek and passes Paradise and Little Falls before reaching the Big Falls Lookout.
* Bunya Bunya Track - only 500 m one way from the Dandabah Picnic Area (10 mins walking time) it offers an opportunity to experience the full glory of the bunya pine forest, the Mowbullan whitewoods and red cedars.
* Cherry Plain to Burtons Well Track - 6 km one way (2 hours) from the Burtons Well Picnic Area, moderately challenging walk through fern-carpeted rainforest to lookouts at Bottle Tree Bluff, Ghinghion and Cherry Plain.
* Koondaii Circuit - a challenging 2.5 km circuit (1 hour) down a steep slope from the Westcott Picnic Area to open forest and the Koondaii Lookout which has views over rainforest to the plains of the Darling Downs.
* Mount Kiangarow Track - a 2.3 km return walk from Burtons Well Picnic Area to the highest point on the Bunya Mountains. It passes through impressive stands of grass trees.
* Paradise to Westcott Track - a 3.2 km one way walk (2 hours) from the Paradise Car Park through rainforest to the Westcliff Lookout.
* Scenic Circuit - a 4 km circuit (90 minutes) from Dandabah Picnic Area through the Bunya pine forest, passing Festoon and Tim Shea Falls and offering panoramic views from Pine Gorge Lookout.
* Westcott to Cherry Plain Track - a 4.8 km one way (2 hours) challenging walk which departs from Westcott Picnic Area and is described as a "breathtaking track where rainforest-clad summits give way to dramatic exposed escarpments and views west over distant plains. Meander through eucalypt-clad ridges interspersed with shady gullies."

Four Drives in the Area
There are four interesting drives out from Dalby. Three of them connect, while the journey to Lake Broadwater (to the south) is a separate trip.

Bunya Mountains Drive
The Bunya Mountains Drive is a 192 km circuit from Dalby via Jandowae Road to Jimbour Station, then through Bell to the Bunya Mountains, down to Kaimkillenbun and back to Dalby. It passes through the rich black soil of the Jimbour Plains where crops of wheat, barley, sorghum, cotton, chickpeas and corn are grown. At Jimbour it stops at Jimbour Station where there is a Living History Walk with illustrative plaques. With beautiful formal gardens Jimbour House is a French classic sandstone homestead built in 1875. The gardens can be visited from 10.00 am to 4.30 pm although the house is not open for inspection. On the property there is a station store (c. 1864), a chapel and a water tower from the 1860's and Bull Stalls and Stables with a display of memorabilia dating back to the early 1800's. A timber cottage at Jimbour House was the site where explorer, Ludwig Leichhardt, in 1844, planned his Port Essington (Northern Territory) expedition. A monument to the naturalist is found at Jimbour Station to mark the departure point of this epic journey. 
The next stop is Bell in the foothills of the Bunya Mountains. A tiny town it is known for its country crafts and a fascinating garden which celebrates the stations of the cross and features mosaics and sculptures. There is also the Bell Railway Heritage Park which houses Engine 1172, one of the first Queensland Rail model diesel locomotives, restored section cars and a vintage passenger railer. The Kingaroy Road from Bell heads towards the Bunya Mountains National Park which has pristine rainforest featuring ancient bunya pines. See information above. At the Dandabah picnic area there are King Parrots, Crimson Rosellas and Currawongs, as well as wallabies. On the way back to Dalby is Kaimkillenbun or "The Bun" which has the historic "Bun Pub". For more information check out http://www.dalby.info/html/attractions_bunya.asp.

Dingo Fence Drive
The journey to, and around, the Dingo Barrier Fence Drive is 176 km and leaves Dalby via Jandowae Road. There is a display depicting the Dingo Barrier Fence in Jandowae opposite the Jandowae Community and Cultural Centre. The display depicts three timber dingoes in front of a mural which is protected by sections of fence similar to the actual dingo fence. The fence itself was 5300 kilometres from Jimbour to Fowlers Bay in South Australia and was constructed to stop dingoes and wild dogs attacking sheep and cattle and provide a safer environment for the animals.
To get to the fence drive north from Dalby to Jimbour and then head north towards Jandowae. Drive for 7 km and turn right into Lyndley Connection Road. Drive a further 2.2 kms and turn left into Lyndley Lane and finally drive 1.4 km until you reach the junction of Lyndley Lane and Fletchers Road. Turn right. The fence begins at the corner post of the four fences to your right. When you cross the next grid, the fence is on your left and a little further on, the maintenance begins. The Dingo Fence is the longest man made structure. It is constructed of wooden posts, strainers, star pickets, wire and different types and sizes of netting and is cleared on both sides to a width of 5 metres. For more information check out http://www.dalby.info/html/attractions_dingo.asp.

Warra Drive
This journey of 145 km heads north-west from Dalby via Warrego Highway to Macalister and Warra, then across to Jandowae and back to Dalby. It includes the Pioneer Park Museum in Black Street (see above) before moving on to the former coal loading facility at Macalister which serviced the Wilkie Creek Open Cut Coal Mine. At Warra the Warra Heritage Centre is worth visiting and on Cooranga Creek there is a monument to the explorer Ludwig Leichhardt who camped beside the creek. The next stop is Jandowae, a small timber town where visitors can inspect the Dingo Barrier Fence display. (see Dingo Fence Drive). On the road back to Dalby, Jimbour House is notable for its beautiful gardens and the impressive sandstone home (not open to the public) built in the late 1800's. For more information check out http://www.dalby.info/html/attractions_warra.asp.

Lake Broadwater Drive
The shortest drive in the area is the drive south to Lake Broadwater. It is only 56 km via the Moonie Highway. Lake Broadwater Conservation Park is perfect for bird watching and there are pleasant walks along the south west track. The lake, which covers approximately 350 ha, is the only naturally occurring water body of this type on the Darling Downs.
There is a bush campground, the Wilga Bush Camping Area, which is located 2 km north of the lake, where boating and water skiing are permitted from 6.00 am to sundown and there is a 3 km track with signage on the native trees. Lake Broadwater is an important breeding ground for waterfowl and attracts water birds including ducks, moorhens, grebes, cormorants, darters, herons, swans, stilts, jabirus and brolgas. The fauna around the lake includes the eastern grey kangaroo, red necked wallaby, swamp wallaby, koala, brush-tailed possum and echnida. For more information check out http://www.dalby.info/html/attractions_lake.asp.

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History

* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was home to the Barungam Aboriginal people.

* In 1841 Dalby came into existence as point where the Myall Creek could be crossed. It was called, rather unimaginately, The Crossing.

* In 1844 Ludwig Leichhardt passed through the area on his way to Port Essington.

* The town was surveyed in 1853.

* Dalby was declared a township in 1854. A post office opened in the general store in that year.

* Dalby became a municipality in 1863. 

* In 1865 the Dalby Herald published its first edition.

* The railway from Toowoomba arrived at Dalby in 1868 and the town became an important railhead.

* By 1869 the town had Presbyterian, Anglican and Catholic churches.

* The first Dalby Agricultural Show was held in 1870. 

* In 1878 the railway was extended to Chinchilla.

* In 1900 the Queensland Government built a Jubilee Sanitorium in the town.

* In 1904 thermal baths, using local bore water, were built in the town.

* In 1913 the local school became a Central School.

* A municipal electricity power station was opened in 1915.

* Council Chambers and Offices were built and opened in 1932.

* 1936 saw the opening of both the Star Picture Theatre and the Olympic Swimming Pool.

* It wasn't until after 1945 that closer settlement occurred as a result of soldier resettlement schemes.

* A State High School opened in 1954.

* A Catholic College opened in 1963.

* The Dalby Agricultural College opened in 1979.

* A flood in 1981 saw 700 houses in the town evacuated.

* By the late 1980s the district was known for its cotton production.

* A local community radio station started broadcasting in 1992.

* The Dalby Regional Council was formed in 2008.

* In 2010-2011 the town experienced frequent serious flooding.

* By 2016 the town's population had passed 12,000.

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Visitor Information

Dalby Visitor Information Centre, cnr Drayton and Condamine Streets, tel: (07) 4679 4461.

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Useful Websites

There is a useful local website with information about accommodation and eating. Check out http://www.dalby.info/html/profile.asp.

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