Two hours west of Toowoomba on the western fringe of the Darling Downs, Chinchilla celebrates its standing as the nation’s melon capital with a festival every odd February.
But this small Warrego Highway town, which takes its name from the Aboriginal word for cypress pine, has more strings to its tourist bow than the biggest, sweetest water melons in the land.
It has its Folk Museum, a Heritage-listed Memorial Hall dedicated to the Cactoblastis moth larvae’s victory over the dread prickly pear and Hellhole Creek, a favourite hideout for notorious bushranger Darkie Gardiner. Chinchilla also basks in the reflected glory of celebrated bush artist Hugh Sawrey who was born in nearby Kogan.
A major town of 5,820 people, Chinchilla is a service centre for grain, fruit and vegetable growers, pastoralists and timber-millers. Nearby fossicking fields turn up the odd valuable gemstone and petrified wood.