Town known as the Peanut Capital of Australia
Kingaroy is known as the 'Peanut Capital of Australia'. During the 1980s it was one of Australia's best known country towns because it was the home of the late Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen, long time Premier of Queensland, would-be aspirant Prime Minister in the 'Joh for PM' campaign, and one of the most controversial, frustrating and entertaining politicians of recent times. Today the town is dominated by peanuts. There are big peanut signs in the street; a peanut selling point known as 'The Peanut Van' sells the local product around South East Queensland and as far south as Casino; the huge peanut silos dominate the town; and even the Visitors Centre has peanuts for sale. The district is now one of Australia's major peanut producers with part of the crop being exported to New Zealand, Britain and Japan.
Kingaroy is located 212 km north-west of Brisbane via Caboolture and Nanago. It is 431 m above sea level.^ TOP
Origin of Name
Kingaroy was probably named after a local Aboriginal word for a small red ant. A book of local Aboriginal words explains that it is: "Derived from 'king', a small black ant, and 'dhu'roi', meaning hungry. The name was suggested by a local Aboriginal helper of the surveyor, Hector Munro, who surveyed the original grazing holding. The ants were a pest at the survey camp."^ TOP
Things to See and Do
Kingaroy Information, Art and Heritage Precinct
The ideal starting point for any visit to Kingaroy is the Kingaroy Information, Art and Heritage Precinct which includes a number of historic buildings including Carroll's Cottage (see below for details), the Carrollee Hotel and the Shire's earliest Council Chambers. The complex includes the Kingaroy Regional Art Gallery, Visitor Information Centre, Heritage Museum, and an interpretative area.
Kingaroy Heritage Museum
Located as part of the Information, Art and Heritage Precinct at 128 Haly Street, the town's Heritage Museum is housed in the old Power House which dates from 1925. The website (http://www.discoversouthburnett.com.au/attractions/argi-mining-and-industry/kingaroy-heritage-museum) explains: "The history of the local peanut industry is a main focus of the collection, with exhibits of agricultural machinery showing the ingenuity and inventiveness of the local farmers and tradespeople. Machinery for farming peanuts was not available in the early 1920s, so farmers invented their own. The first being a bicycle powered thresher built in 1909, then an American-made wheat thresher was converted by a local farmer to thresh peanuts. In the late 1920s Mr Harry Young designed and built his very own dinosaur – a stationary peanut thresher." It is open from 9.00 am - 4.30 pm Monday to Friday and 10.00 am - 2.00 pm on weekends, tel: (07) 4189 9172 or (07) 4189 9151.
There are a number of significant historic buildings in the town which have been listed in the Queensland Heritage Register. Check out:
St Michael and All Angels Church
Located at 2-6 Alford Street, "an elegant timber building designed by architect Colin Deighton and erected between December 1910 and 1911. Its intact timber interior exhibits superior craftsmanship ... The church building is laid out in a typical cruciform plan with a central nave formed by a long, steeply gabled roof. This main roof is dissected by another gabled roof slightly lower in height which forms the north and south transepts. The northern transept contains a side-chapel and southern transept contains a vestry. Aisles are formed to the north and south of the nave by lower lean-to roofs running along its length. A gabled entry porch with hipped returns provides a protective covered entrance to the church from the west ... The building's exposed timber framing dominates the interior of the building. Scissor-braces fixed to pairs of rafters supporting the roof cross the width of the nave and the north and south transepts. Metal tie-rods are located at regular intervals in the ceiling space which is lined with unpainted v-jointed boards. The aisles are divided from the nave by a colonnade of timber arches supporting the main roof formed from timber posts and decorative timber brackets. The chancel is separated from the nave and crossing by a timber framed chancel arch with a variation of a rood screen formed in timber supporting a wooden crucifix. All timberwork is unpainted. The chancel is slightly raised and contains the altar which is formed from carved English oak. Early inset panels of paintings of angels have been relocated behind the altar to the eastern wall where dark timber panelled wall linings with lightly coloured cover strips are located. Intricately detailed candlesticks and an altar cross rest on the altar and timber communion or altar rails are located in front of it." The Queensland Heritage Register notes that it is "an excellent example of a timber-framed church, which at the time of construction was considered one of the best timber buildings in the Brisbane Diocese. Highly intact, it demonstrates the principal characteristics of an early 20th century Anglican church utilising a Latin cross plan with the northern transept accommodating a chapel, the southern transept a vestry and the western end an entry porch." For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=602763.
Located at 6 Edward Street, and now part of the town's Heritage Precinct, Carroll Cottage is a small timber building which was constructed by Daniel Carroll in 1900. Queensland Heritage notes that its: "Key features include the simple rectilinear form of the building, steep, hipped roof, basic four-roomed plan and detached kitchen. The house provides a good illustration of the way in which houses have traditionally been extended in Queensland." It is on its original location and is recognised as the first house built in Kingaroy. For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=601901.
Kingaroy Shire Council Chambers
Located at 126 Haly Street, "the Kingaroy Council Chambers is a single storey masonry building with Art Deco decorative features ... it is linked to the former power house (now the Kingaroy Heritage Museum) via a connecting building to the east. Its decorative Art Deco styling with vertical banding, geometric motifs and stepped parapet gives the building a strong streetscape presence ... it is also significant for the outstanding craftsmanship of the meeting room. The chambers contains many finely crafted elements and timber joinery including walls panelled in silky oak and floors finished with tulip and rose gum parquetry, dais, meeting table, swivel oak meeting chairs and public seating and map cabinet." For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=602810.
Kingaroy Peanut Silos
Located at 117-131 Haly Street, the huge Peanut Silos are listed on the Queensland Heritage Register because "These silos were built in 1938, 1948 and 1951 and reflect the constant growth of the peanut industry in that period. The Kingaroy Peanut Silos are a striking physical manifestation of the Peanut Company of Australia and its precursor organisations, with the headquarters of the company located in Kingaroy, since 1927. These organisations have controlled and developed the peanut industry in Queensland and Australia since its inception." The huge peanut silos are 42 m high and capable of holding 16,000 tonnes. For more information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=602764.
The Peanut Van
Located at 77 Kingaroy Street, and it has been there since 1969, the Peanut Van is a symbol of the town. It operates from 8.30 am - 5.00 pm, claims to have the freshest peanuts in Australia - and takes phone orders on 1300 818 283. Kingaroy is known as one of Australia's major peanut producers with part of the crop being exported to New Zealand, Britain and Japan. The Peanut Van is the logical place to consume the local product. Check out their website: https://www.peanutvan.com.au.
The Kingaroy Observatory is located at Geoff Raph Drive near Kingaroy Airport and is open from 7.00 pm in the winter months and from 7.30 from October to February. The Kingaroy Observatory has large powerful telescopes which are ideal for seeing the moon, planets and the stars, all of which are not affected by light pollution. For more details check out http://www.kingaroyobservatory.com or tel: (07) 4164 6194.
There are two lookouts around the town. (i) Mt Wooroolin Lookout can be accessed by driving west on Haly Street and turning right into Mount Wooroolin Road. It is 7 km from the centre of town (ii) Apex Park in Fisher Street (turn north of Haly Street) offers impressive panoramic views over the town.
Other Attractions in the Area
Located at 7 Old Taabinga Road, Haly Creek is the historic Taabinga Homestead. The old homestead is described as: "A slab building erected in 1846 by the Haly brothers. The west elevation is sandstone blocks, 60 centimetres thick, quarried on the site. The shingled roof is now covered with corrugated iron and the wide verandahs with trellises and weatherboards. Stables and yards are in excellent condition. This is a fine example of the early homesteads of the Kingaroy district." It is located 5 km south of Kingaroy and is closed to the public however it can be opened for groups. The Queensland Heritage Register notes that "The principal built elements of Taabinga include the main residence built between the 1840s and 1850s, as well as the kitchen; dairy; single men's quarters; meat house; carpenter/blacksmith's workshop; garage and chauffeur's residence; storehouse; grain shed; and cemetery. Most of these structures were built during the 1890s and early 1900s. There is a very detailed description of the house and its importance at https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=600647.
Kingaroy to Kilkivan Rail Trail
This 88 km rail trail was opened in 2017 and "traverses undulating farmland and some bushland, with several towns along the route and points of interest. The Kilkivan to Murgon section is built to basic standard while the Murgon to Kingaroy "South Burnett Rail Trail" section is built to a higher standard having a sealed surface. For detailed information about the trail check out https://www.railtrails.org.au/trail?view=trail&id=149.
Bunya Mountains National Park
Located 57 km south-west of Kingaroy via the Bunya Highway 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."
* Prior to European settlement the area was occupied by the Waka Waka Aboriginal people.
* The Kingaroy area was opened up in the 1840s when Henry Stuart Russell and the Haly brothers moved into the area in 1843.
* Taabinga Station homestead was built in 1846.
* In 1878 the area where the town now stands was settled by the Markwell Brothers.
* Areas of Taabinga Station were set aside for a town as early as the 1880s and the town was established at one corner of the property.
* In 1902 serious development of the town centre began. In the next five years the town grew rapidly.
* In 1904 the railway reached the town and Kingaroy became the terminus. That year the Post Office and Police Station were built and the first hotel was constructed.
* In 1907 Taabinga Station was opened up for closer settlement and a butter factory was built.
* Between 1908-1910 Methodist, Anglican, Catholic and Presbyterian churches were built in the town.
* In 1910 a School of Arts was built.
* By 1911 the railway line had been extended to Nanango.
* Kingaroy Shire was proclaimed in 1912.
* The local High School was opened in 1918.
* The Kingaroy Hospital was opened in 1919.
* By 1924 a local power station was providing the town with electricity.
* In the 1920s the first significant crops of peanuts was harvested.
* The first peanut silo was built in 1928.
* By 1929 the local butter factory was producing 100 tons of butter a week.
* The Kingaroy Lutheran Church was opened in 1936.
* In 1942 the RAAF used the town as a training area for eight squadrons.
* A swimming pool was built in the town in 1953.
* The Kingaroy High School opened in 1958.
* In 1959 snow fell in the town.
* By the 1960s Kingaroy had the largest pork abattoir in Queensland.
* The local butter factory was closed in 1977.
* A Lutheran Primary School opened in 1989.
* The Booie Range Distillery opened in 2001.
* The centenary of Kingaroy was celebrated in 2004.
* The Kingaroy Council Offices, headquarters of the South Burnett Regional Council, were opened in 2008.
* In 2013 Cyclone Oswald dropped 230 mm of rain on the town one night resulting in severe flooding.
* The Kingaroy Observatory opened in 2015.
* A new Court House opened in 2018.^ TOP
South Burnett Visitor Information Centre, 128 Haly Street, tel: (07) 4189 9172, Open Monday - Friday 9.00 am - 4.30 pm, Saturday and Sunday 10.00 am - 2.00 pm.^ TOP
The Discover South Burnett website is useful. Check out https://www.discoversouthburnett.com.au/towns/kingaroy.^ TOP