After a good overnight stay at Injune Rodeo Grounds we continued our journey south and into the town of Roma.
Neither of us knew much about the town of Roma and were surprised to see how large and affluent it was. The town had a really nice feel about it. Roma has a population of about 7,000 people and a large central shopping district.
Our first stop in Roma was to check out Roma’s Big Bottle Tree. It is enormous. It has a height of 6m and a crown of 20m and the trunk is 9.51m in diameter. Bottle trees are planted all around Roma. They are not to be confused with Boab trees, although both get called bottle trees. They are different species. Australia has 12 species of Bottle trees however there is only 1 Boab. The Boab is only found in the remote Kimberley region in the northern part of Western Australia. Boabs are one of the oldest living things in Australia and in the rest of the world. The bottle trees planted around Roma are Queensland Bottle Trees or Narrow-leafed Bottle Trees and as they age the trunk becomes fatter and ‘bottle’ shaped’. The trees are not hollow and the swelling is due to water being held in the fibrous truck. They are very long lived trees and can live naturally for over 200 years. Roma’s Big bottle Tree was transplanted from a local property in 1927 and is over 100 years old.
Our next stop was the Big Rig Visitors Centre. I had thought that Big Rig must have referred to trucks however we discovered that Roma is at the heart of Queensland’s oils and gas industry. Big Rig refers to the the drilling rigs they use to drill for the oil and gas. Well who knew that!
The centre has a guided tour each day at 2pm of their outdoor display called ‘The Oil Patch” so we thought that would be good to do later. We used the time in the meantime to go and get some fuel, groceries, wine and we stopped beside the Big Bottle Tree to have some lunch. There is a lovely park that runs along the Bungil Creek so it was a nice spot for lunch.
Back at The Big Rig Centre we arrived in time for the 2pm tour. The outdoor displays are very good and begin with an acknowledgement of the Marandanji people, the traditional custodians of the land around Roma.
Oil and gas were discovered in the 1920’s when drillers were looking for water for the town. They didn’t find water but they did find coal seam oil and gas. Our guide explained the process used for drilling for oil and gas and showed us the equipment that has been used over time. They do have a very good display of mining equipment. The centre is in the process of having a huge metal construction built. It is being built to resemble a drilling rig. It will have stairs and a lift to access the platform at the top and there is going to be a bridge going out over the Bungil Creek. It looks like it will be a fantastic addition to the museum. Mining makes a large contribution to the economy in Roma and many businesses support the mining industry.
After the informative tour we drove out of town to the Roma Saleyards to visit their Interpretive Centre. This fabulous centre houses a world class interactive display of the development of cattle production in Australia and it is free for visitors. The Interpretive Centre is part of new additions to the Saleyards that include the Interpretive Centre, Public Toilets, a Cafe, offices and the new Bull Sale Arena. There is a very large carpark alongside with especially marked spaces for caravans, motorhomes and vehicles with trailers. We spent a couple of hours at the centre and decided we would go back the next morning to do the guided Saleyard Tour. The tours run every Tuesday and Thursday (on cattle sale days) at 8.30am. I recommend a visit to the Interpretive Centre to any visitors to Roma.
We camped the night at a farmstay we found on WikiCamps called Ups & Downs Farmstay. This is a small caravan park about 6km out of town on a 200 acre working farm. They’ve turned their front paddock into a small caravan park with 10 powered sites and 14 unpowered sites. They also have a donga with three rooms and a shared bathroom. There is a rustic camp kitchen and another donga set up near the camp kitchen with 3 unisex bathrooms and a laundry. The place was almost full when we arrived and were greeted by the resident caretaker. It cost $20 for an unpowered site but each site has access to a water tap.
It was a quirky place and the whole farm has old machinery on display as well as lots of quirky displays of other odd stuff.
The caretaker lights the fire at 5pm each night so that people can gather and chat around the fire. We enjoyed a couple of hours around the communal campfire meeting the other guests.