Home » Towns » Queensland » Southern Downs » Warwick, QLD

Warwick, QLD

Major rural centre on the Darling Downs known as the 'Rose and Rodeo City'

Warwick is an important, thriving and attractive rural city which is known for its large number of elegant buildings - handsome churches and impressive private schools. It can claim to be the first important inland settlement in Queensland. In recent times it has promoted itself as the 'Rose and Rodeo City' because of the fame of the Warwick Rodeo which is held each October. Warwick is the headquarters of the Australian Rough Riders Association and has produced a number of famous rodeo riders. Today it is an impressive inland city which is best experienced by simply taking a number of the walks and enjoying the ambience of this graceful and impressive destination.


Warwick is located 158 km south west of Brisbane via National Highway 15 and 480 m above sea level.


Origin of Name

In 1847 the New South Wales government gave Patrick Leslie permission to select a site for a town on his Canning Downs station. It was to be known as Canningtown, the local Aborigines knew the area as Gooragooby. No one is sure why Canningtown became Warwick but one theory argues that it was named after Warwick the Kingmaker, a character in Edward Bulwer Lytton's The Last of the Barons which had been published in 1843.


Things to See and Do

Walks Around Warwick
There is an excellent map and information which can be downloaded at http://www.sdrc.qld.gov.au/ArticleDocuments/Fitness%20Walks%20of%20Warwick%20brochure.pdf.aspx?Embed=Y. The map lists a total of four walks all of which have specific attractions. The walks are:

(a) CBD Walk
An easy 2.2 km which is basically a circuit along Palmerin Street to Wood Street, around to Guy Street and along to Leslie Park and down Fitzroy Street and back to Palmerin Street. It includes: 
1. Slade Gates, completed 1901
2. Police Station, built 1901
3. St Andrew’s Uniting Church, completed 1870
4. Court House, opened 1886
5. St George’s Lodge, opened 1887
6. Central School, opened 1875
7. St Mary’s Catholic Church, opened 1926
8. St Mary’s Presbytery
9. Condamine Club (formerly known as Langham Hotel), completed 1913
10. Post Office, opened 1898
11. Byrnes Monument, Thomas Joseph Byrnes, 1st Qld-born Premier
12. Warwick Town Hall, opened 1888
13. War Memorial
14. Leslie Park Rotunda

Of these 14 places of interest the following are listed on the Queensland Heritage Register.

2. Police Station
Part of the Police and Court House complex at 88 Fitzroy Street, the Police Station "is a two-storeyed sandstone structure fronting Fitzroy Street to the north. The building has a gable and half-gable sheet metal roof, with dressed sandstone street facade, chimney stacks and quoining to the side and rear with square-snecked rock-faced ashlar. The chimney stacks are capped by a cornice and have circular openings on the vertical face. The symmetrical street facade has an arched sandstone arcade to the ground floor, consisting of four central arched bays supporting a verandah to the first floor, with two smaller arched bays on either side."
The lock-up "is a single-storeyed sandstone structure with a corrugated iron gable roof with central ridge ventilator and a verandah on the western side. The building, consisting of five cells, has dressed sandstone quoining with rock-faced ashlar."
It is recognised as "highly intact working example of a turn of the century police complex with adjoining late nineteenth century court house." For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=600948.

3. St Andrew’s Uniting Church
Located on the corner of Guy Street and Fitzroy Street, St Andrew’s Uniting Church (originally known as St Andrews Presbyterian Church) was built between 1869 and 1922. The Queensland Heritage Register describes it as "a simple sandstone structure, rectilinear in form, with a stone entry porch on the front eastern facade of the building. It is constructed of load-bearing, rock-faced ashlar sandstone and is divided into six bays separated with buttresses. Lancet arched openings, each housing a pair of lancet windows with a circular window above, are situated between each buttress. The majority of these windows are now filled with commemorative stained glass and the remainder with diamond patterned leadlight windows. A larger lancet arched opening at the eastern end contains three rose windows and five lancet windows, now partially obscured on the exterior by the entry porch. The western gable end contains a single rose window.
The entry porch is rock-faced ashlar with a pitched tiled roof and a pair of arched, timber entry doors surmounted by a small rose window. The steeply pitched roof of the church is clad in red terracotta tiles with small decorative stone pinnacles located in each corner and a small metal fleche resembling a miniature church spire at the roof ridge at the western end. The vestry and choir room is a small rendered masonry structure with a pitched roof added to the western end of the building. It is finished in pebbledash stucco and has a wide-pan corrugated iron roof which is painted." and notes that it makes a significant contribution to the streetscape of Warwick. For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=601757.

4. Court House
Located at 88 Fitzroy Street, the Warwick Court House was designed by John James Clark and built between 1885 and 1914. The Court House and Police Complex is a collection of timber and stone buildings. The Queensland Heritage Register notes of the buildings: "The court house is a single-storeyed (with attic) sandstone structure located on the corner of Guy Street fronting Fitzroy Street to the north. The building has a hipped sheet metal roof, with metal ridge ventilators, and a clock tower on the Fitzroy Street frontage.
The symmetrical Fitzroy Street facade, of dressed sandstone, is stepped in plan with the central clock tower and pedimented entrance abutting the footpath. The pediment is supported by four pilasters resting on a deep base framing an entrance. The entrance has double timber panelled doors with fanlight surrounded by a sandstone moulding and keystone. A deep string course crosses above the entrance between the pilasters at eave height, with a metal coat of arms positioned centrally above. The clock tower is square in plan with a clock face, surrounded by sandstone mouldings and framed by pilasters with a deep cornice above, to each side and a convex hipped sheet metal roof. The lower wings either side of the tower have parapet walls and continue the eave height string course and top ledge of the sandstone base. The rear of the structure is of rough faced sandstone. Windows are mainly timber sashes and have sheet metal hoods with cast iron brackets."  For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=600948.

5. St George's Masonic Centre
Located at 50a Guy Street, the impressive double sandstone building that is the St George's Masonic Centre was designed by William Wallace and built from 1886-1887. The Queensland Heritage Register describes it as "a monumental double-storeyed sandstone building with a classical facade, and a corrugated iron hipped roof. The building assumes considerable prominence on the street, where its neighbours are single-storeyed detached buildings. The building has a simple rectangular plan running east-west, with a 1963 rendered blockwork annex to the rear. It contains a hall with an entry vestibule on each level: the upper level hall is richly appointed to cater to masonic ceremonial meetings, while the relatively spartan ground floor hall is used for more casual gatherings.
"Externally, the rough hewn sandstone walls to the side and rear of the building contrast strongly with the finely carved symmetrical parapeted front facade. This facade has paired Doric columns, flanked by one and a half squared pilasters. The columns are spanned by a large pediment inlaid with the compass and square symbol, resting on an entablature inlaid with other masonic and Hebrew symbols. The columns and pilasters rest on a high plinth, and frame an arched doorway surmounted by a pediment and three arched windows." 
It is a rare example of a sandstone masonic temple in Queensland which has been in continuous use since 1887. For a more detailed description check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=600952.

6. Warwick Central School
Located at 55b Guy Street, the Warwick Central School, which was built in 1874-1875 is one of the earliest state schools in Queensland. It is listed on the Queensland Heritage Register because "It is an early example of a masonry school building designed by prominent architect RG Suter who was responsible for the design of many school buildings in Queensland from the late 1860s to the mid 1870s but it is the only stone school designed by him ... it demonstrates the principal characteristics of early schools such as the provision of large classrooms for teaching by the Lancastrian system and in its gender division, separating class and play areas for girls and boys and ... it has aesthetic value as an early example of Gothic revival school architecture." For a more detailed analysis of its importance check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=602497.

7. St Mary's Catholic Church
Located at 163 Palmerin Street, this is the city's second St Mary's Church. It was designed by Dornbusch & Connolly, built between 1920-1926 and is now on the Queensland Heritage Register which describes it as "The church, which remains incomplete, was designed with a traditional cruciform plan, with entrance from Palmerin Street and north and south transepts and a sanctuary west of this. The body and tower of the church and were the only parts completed resulting in a curiously proportioned building.
St Mary's consists of a central nave, flanked by side aisles, a shallow sanctuary and a large tower on the eastern, entrance facade. The nave and aisles are expressed on the exterior of the church with distinct purple Bangor slate gabled roofs; the height of the aisle roofs allowing the loftier nave to be naturally lit by clerestory windows.
"The tower, projecting through 29 metres (95 ft) on the south eastern corner of the building, is surmounted by an octagonal spire protruding above a crenellated parapet through which eight spired pinnacles project. The pinnacles, which extend from the angled buttressing strengthening the tower, are surmounted by sandstone fleur-de-lis, a motif which continues throughout the building. The tower features a number of openings repeated on all sides: a cinquefoil rose at the base; above which is a pair of double lancets with fleur-de-lis opening above; two quatrefoil openings; surmounted by two comparatively small tripartite lancet openings and finally, at the top, two larger lancet openings.
"The building is constructed from coursed rock faced sandstone with smooth faced arch mouldings, string courses, copings, parapet detailing, tracery and carvings. The glazing in the building consists of leadlight panels, with stained and coloured glass sections." It is recognised as a fine example of an early 20th century Gothic Revival church and "The building has many fine elements including the stonework, particularly the tracery and carvings; internal joinery; and a very fine marble High Altar, side altars and pulpit. The building is a landmark in Warwick as the highest and most prominent building in the town." For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=600959.

8. St Mary's Presbytery
Located at 142 Palmerin Street, St Mary's Presbytery (sometimes known as Father JJ Horan's residence) was built in 1885-1887 to a design by Wallace & Gibson. It "is an integral part of the Warwick Catholic parish precinct which is spread across two adjacent town blocks and includes an imposing sandstone church, an earlier sandstone church now used as a parish hall, primary school and playgrounds, tennis and squash courts, a bowls club and residential apartments. The first floor verandah and belvedere of the presbytery afford sweeping views of Warwick and the surrounding district." For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=602585.

9. Langham Hotel
Located at 133 Palmerin Street, the Langham Hotel, a prominent structure on the town's main street, was built between 1912-1913 to a design by Dornbusch & Connolly. It retains a lot of its historic charm with the interior having "substantial amounts of original fabric including pressed metal ceilings, plaster mouldings and joiner." For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=600957.

10. The Post Office
The Post Office (1891) on the corner of Grafton Street and Palmerin Street is a large two storey building with Saracenic arches on the first floor, a large cupola and Tuscan columns on the ground floor. It was built from locally quarried sandstone. Today it is one of the city's many prominent landmarks.

11. T J Byrnes Monument
Standing proudly in the main street, on the corner of Palmerin and Grafton Streets, the monument is to Thomas Joseph Byrnes, the Premier of Queensland (and the first native born Queenslander to hold the office). It was erected in 1902 to celebrate a life cut short. He died when he was only 37 and had been Premier for only five months. He had represented Warwick in the Queensland parliament and the day after he died "all Warwick businesses were shut, and on the day of the state funeral in Brisbane, Warwick schools closed. A week after Byrnes' death the Mayor of Warwick, J Allman, suggested that a fund administered by a citizens committee be established to erect a memorial to Byrnes, in Warwick. A public meeting was called on 20 October 1898, at which time a committee was formed. Over the next 3 years £250 was raised locally from 363 subscribers, and this was matched £ for £ by the Queensland government." The Queensland Heritage Register records that "It remains an excellent example of its type – a lifelike, finely carved statue set high on a decorative pedestal and located at the intersection of two of the principal streets in Warwick – specifically designed and located to impress." For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=602076.

12. Warwick Town Hall
The Town Hall (1888), located at 72 Palmerin Street, was constructed from local sandstone. It is one of the oldest local authority buildings in Queensland and is distinguished by a large and elegant clock tower. When it was completed the local newspaper, the Warwick Argus, wrote "The comely edifice has been completed and a monument to the shrewdness and foresight of those aldermen who saw further that the 'morrow now stands where once a humpy reared its unpretentious head.'"
Over the years it has hosted an unusual range of events and people. In 1900 the Mayor stood on the balcony and called for cheers for Colonel Baden Powell to celebrate the news of the relief of Mafeking. In 1908 a Biograph company showed simple movies in the hall. The Australian singer, Peter Dawson, performed in the hall in 1914 and in 1952 Sister Kenny was the celebrated guest at the Anzac Day celebrations.

13. War Memorial and Gates
Located on Fitzroy Street, the town's war memorial and gates were built in 1923-1924. The gates honour the 122 local men who died during World War I. The Queensland Heritage Register describes the gates as "a substantial Helidon sandstone and granite structure facing the south eastern corner of Leslie Park, Warwick, where the Memorial Gates are diagonally situated. The memorial stands 35 feet (11 m) high, and comprises a base, pedestal and surmounting Celtic cross. The sandstone pedestal of the memorial sits on a stepped granite base, the upper step of which is rough cut and has a foundation stone on the south west face." For more detailed information about the gates check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=600946.

(b) The Railway Walk
This easy walk is 2.8 km with steps (up and down) on the Railway Overpass, the Railway Walk is a pleasant walk around the southern end of Warwick which passes over the railway line and joins up with Federation Park and can easily join up with the Condamine River Walk. The walk covers ten places of interest, two of which are on the Queensland Heritage Register.
1. Greenbelt entrance
2. Federation Park
3. Warwick East State School, formerly Warwick National School, the oldest schoolbuilding in Qld (1864/65)
4. Pig and calf saleyards
5. Railway Museum
6. Railway Station (mid 1880’s)
7. O’Mahoney’s Hotel (National Hotel, b.1907)
8. Universal Hotel
9. St Mark’s Anglican Church (b.1868)
10. Warwick Library, Art Gallery & Visitor Information Centre

(c) Dairy Walk
Covering 2.4 km of easy walking This easy route follows the Condamine River, crossing back over the McCahon Bridge, past the Warwick State High School, through an avenue of crepe myrtles along Park Road. 
1. Queen’s Park gates
2. Flour mill
3. Butter factory (Warwick Dairy Co-op, closed January 2005)
4. Warwick State High School

(d) Condamine River Walk
An easy 2.5 km walk along the beautiful Condamine River, a tributary of the longest continuous river in Australia, the Darling River. The Condamine itself is 500 km long. Warwick’s Greenbelt Precinct, as well as being home to the town’s walking/cycling paths, is a great place to spot wildlife. 
1. Skate Bowl
2. Dungaree fountain
3. Tiddalik and Platypus sculptures

Warwick Museum and Pringle Cottage
The Warwick and District Historical Society Museum Complex is located at 81 Dragon Street, is open open Tuesday and Thursday from 9.00 am to 12.00 pm. Friday 10.00 am to 3.00 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12.00 pm to 3.00 pm or call 0429 941 073 outside those hours. The centrepiece of the museum is
'Pringle Cottage' (1869) which was built by John McCulloch, a Scottish builder, in the style of Scottish cottages of the time. It was a school for many years. The museum complex also includes an old General Store, a shepherd's hut, a display of restored farm machinery, an extensive collection of World War I memorabilia and an interesting collection of memorabilia from the Warwick Dairy Co-op, an exhibit relating to the Warwick Daily News printery and the Canning Downs overseer's residence. For current exhibitions check out the Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/WarwickandDistrictHistoricalSocietyInc.

Australian Rodeo Heritage Centre
Located on Alice Street, the Australian Rodeo Heritage Centre is open Monday - Friday from 10.00 am - 3.00 pm and by appointment. It is the head office of the Australian Professional Rodeo Association and also has displays, demonstrations, a museum store and a theatrettes. The displays "showcase the cowboys that set the standard of rodeo in Australia today. Saddles, ropes, chaps and all things memorable that won that coveted title or imprinted the pages of history are captured and shown to relive every day." For more detailed information check out http://www.prorodeo.com.au/heritage.

Jackie Howe Memorial
The famous John Robert Howe, better known as Jackie Howe, was born on Canning Downs on 26 July 1861. Howe went on to become the country's most famous shearer and is remembered with an impressive statue in the main street of Blackall.
In 1983 Warwick remembered this famous son by establishing a Jackie Howe Memorial at the Jackie Howe Rest Area on the corner of Glengallan Road and the Cunningham Highway. It is notable for the large shears at the top.
The inscription on the memorial notes: 
"John Robert Howe Better Known As Jackie Howe was Born On Canning Downs Near Warwick On 26th July, 1861. 
"He learned the art of blade shearing in the woolsheds of this district before moving to Central Queensland in the 1800s.
"At Alice Downs, Blackall, on 10 October 1892 he shore a total of 321 sheep in a standard working day of eight hours and thereby established a record that was never equalled by blade shearers.
"By adopting a sleeveless shirt which facilitated the action of the blade shearer he gave his name to its modern counterpart: the Jackie Howe singlet. Jackie Howe died at Blackall on 21 July, 1920."
For more information check out http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/people/industry/display/92880-jackie-howe.

Southern Downs Steam Railway
Located at the Locomotive Depot at the Warwick Railway Station, and founded in 1996, the Southern Downs Steam Railway is committed to providing a "unique heritage railway experience on the Darling Downs and Granite belt through the operation of a tourist railway. Steam train enthusiasts can take a trip on the Southern Downs Steam Railway's "Downs Dasher" C17 Steam Locomotive No. 971 which was built in 1950. There are a number of tours to Wallangarra, Stanthorpe and Clifton. All the details, prices and times can be accessed at http://www.southerndownssteamrailway.com.au/tours/index.php.


Other Attractions in the Area

Connolly Dam
Located 18 km south of Warwick, the Connolly Dam is popular with anglers  who recognise that the dam is stocked with golden perch, Murray cod and silver perch. The public are permitted to fish from the shore and only electric powered and paddled craft are allowed on the dam. There is a bushwalking track around the shore of the dam. 

Leslie Dam
Located 13 km west of Warwick, the Leslie Dam is popular for both fishing and water sports. It is stocked with golden perch, Murray cod and silver perch. It is recognised as a great picnic and swimming spot. There is excellent bushwalking around the shores of the lake. 

Main Range National Park and Cunninghams Gap
Located 47 km east of Warwick on the Cunningham Highway, Cunninghams Gap lies in the Main Range National which covers 29,739 ha of rugged mountain peaks and widely diverse vegetation and rare wildlife. The European discovery of the gap was made by the explorer, Allan Cunningham, who identified it in 1827 while travelling the Darling Downs. He believed it would provide easy access from the Downs to Moreton Bay. Today the Gap offers a number of tracks which are ideal for bushwalking. It is possible to go on the Mount Mitchell Track to East Peak, on a Rainforest Circuit, on the Gap Creek Falls Track to Gap Creek Falls, on the Bare Rock Track to Morgans Walk and Bare Rock, on the Palm Grove Circuit and the Mount Cordeaux Track. There is detailed maps and information at https://www.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/main-range.



* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area around Warwick was occupied by the Bundjalung First Nation people. Other groups - the Githabal (sometimes known as Gidabal, Kitabal - people were also in the area.

* The first European into the area was Allan Cunningham who reached the Darling Downs in 1827.

* In the 1840s the lands of the Darling Downs were opened up when the New South Wales Government (Queensland did not become a separate colony until 1859) allowed squatters and pastoralists to move onto the rich and fertile plains. 

* In 1842 Governor Gipps declared that "all settlers and other free persons shall be at liberty to proceed to the Darling Downs in like manner as to any other part of the Colony."

* The Warwick area was first settled by the Leslie brothers (Patrick and George) who established the Canning Downs run in 1840 and built a home in 1846. 

* In 1847 the New South Wales government gave Patrick Leslie permission to select a site for a town on his Canning Downs station.

* A general store was opened in 1848. 

* The town was surveyed by Colonial Surveyor, James Burnett, in 1849. A slab Court House was opened that year.

* Land was first sold in 1850. 

* The town's first National School was opened in 1855.

* Between 1857-1858 Presbyterian, Methodist and Church of England churches were consecrated.

* Warwick became a municipality in 1861.

* The first rodeo in the area was held at Canning Downs in the 1860s.

* St Marys Catholic Church was built in 1864.

* Cobb & Co started running a coach to the township in 1865.

* The Annual Warwick Agricultural Show began in 1868. That year St Mark's Church of England was consecrated.

* By 1871 the railway from Ipswich had reached the town.

* A brewery was established in 1873.

* A co-operative flour mill was opened in 1874.

* A brick works went into production in 1874.

* The impressive Masonic Hall was opened in 1886.

* The impressive Town Hall was completed in 1888.

* In 1896 Thomas Byrnes was elected as the local member. He went on to become Premier of Queensland.

* The railway was extended to Goondiwindi in 1902.

* A butter factory was opened in 1903.

* The local technical college opened in 1906.

* A college run by the Christian Brothers opened in 1912.

* In 1917 'Billy' Hughes visited the town to press his case for conscription. The townsfolk, as the majority of Australia, were against conscription and one person demonstrated their opposition by hurling a well aimed egg at the Prime Minister. Hughes demanded that the egg thrower be arrested but the local policeman protested that as no Queensland law had been broken he could not arrest the offender. It is claimed that this incident led directly to the establishment of the Commonwealth Police Force. 

* In 1917 the Criterion Hotel on Palmerin Street was built.

* Both a Presbyterian and Church of England girls school opened in 1918.

* Scots College for boys opened in 1919.

* Warwick became a city in 1936.

* In 1994 it was expanded to become the Shire of Warwick.

* By 1996 the population of the city had passed 10,000.

* In 2008 the Shire of Warwick amalgamated with Stanthorpe to become Southern Downs Regional Council.


Visitor Information

Warwick Visitor Information Centre, Town Hall, 72 Palmerin Street, tel: (07) 4661 3122, open Monday to Friday 9.00 am - 5.00 pm, Saturday 9.00 am - 4.00 pm, Sunday 9.00 am - 2.00 pm.


Useful Websites

The official local website is http://www.southernqueenslandcountry.com.au/destinations/warwick-and-surrounds.

Got something to add?

Have we missed something or got a top tip for this town? Have your say below.

7 suggestions
  • What is the liveability of Warwick???

    Kate Coxon
  • Do you still have stone carving competitions in Warwick?.

    Sam Stratti
  • Where can you pull up with a caravan to shop or dine?

    Judy Nicholls
    • There are allocated caravan parking spaces close to the main shopping area. One area is in Fitzroy Street across from the Aldi supermarket and in front of the Council Administrative building and the other larger area is in Palmerin Street, the main street, beside Leslie Park. Both areas are within one block of the shopping/cafe part of town. There are also public toilets located in Leslie Park and beautiful gardens and picnic tables. It is also only one block to be back on the Highway so easy to access. It saddens me to see caravans stopping at the very unsuitable Jackie Howe Park on the way through Warwick.

      Marg Adcock
  • What happened to the Warwick Electric Light Company? Is it still standing?

    Robynne Stevenson
  • Cactus Ridge road is very beautiful and iconic as a rural bush country

    Sushila Krishnaswamy-Chang