Steeped in colourful history, Roma, 261km west of Dalby, claims many firsts: the first gazetted settlement after Queensland separated from NSW in 1859; the state’s first wine-making venture in 1863; the first natural gas strike in Australia in 1900.
Although sheep and cattle are major resources of this area, natural gas is still piped 480km to Brisbane. A brief rush for oil was short-lived and the area is now dotted with abandoned rigs. The Big Rig at the entrance to the town stands as a memorial to the heady days of oil-mania.
They are still making wine for visitors' tasting pleasure at the Romavilla Winery. Grapes were first planted in the Roma district around 1857 and since the 1950s, the winery has built a reputation for fortified and sweet white wines.
Bushranger Harry Redford (Captain Starlight) was tried here and cleared of cattle rustling. Redford later masterminded the theft of 1000 head which were driven to South Australian saleyards - an epic drive that partly-inspired Thomas Alexander Browne's (Rolf Boldrewood) novel, Robbery Under Arms, which was subsequently made into two feature films.
Roma sits at the junction of the Warrego and Carnarvon highways - strike south on the Carnarvon Highway and you are on your way to St George while the road north passes through Injune on the way to the spectacular Carnarvon Gorge. The streets of Roma are lined with Queensland bottle trees, fat-trunked trees which look like (but are not related to) the boab trees of WA and NT.