Warwick to Toompine
First a couple of survival tips:
1) Most of this ride is along designated Travelling Stock Routes (TSR’s). These are long established arteries for droving stock, this is the ‘long paddock’. You can usually tell you are on one of these when at least one of the roadside fence lines around 60 metres back from the road and you are not crossing grids on the tarmac.
The importance of these is that TSR’s have water and camping roughly every 20 kms (an average day’s drove). The water may be hard and minerally but if you are caught out in the outback heat, knowing where this water is, may well save your life.
Quite often these bore heads or waterholes are set back from the road and obscured by scrub. They are signposted like the image here and if you’re riding out back, especially on your own, you should get used to spotting them, if not for emergencies then as an option for overnight camping.
2) Once you get out of the towns, street numbers in the bush usually reflect the distance from the start of the road, from the last major intersection. So if you find yourself stranded on a smaller road outside a gate that carries a street number of, say 2195 Bush Rd, you can be pretty sure you are 21.95 kms from start of that road. Up to you to work out whether that means a town or an intersection with a major hwy but it’ll at least give you some idea where you are if needing help.
Warwick on the Darling Downs has a few claims to fame but the by far the best is being responsible for the formation of what is now the Australian Federal Police.
In November 1917 then PM Billy Hughes arrived at Warwick on a train and set about addressing a large crowd at the station on the issue of conscription. A couple of eggs were quickly thrown at him, one knocking off his hat. There was immediate, ‘tumult, excitement and confusion’ and Hughes himself waded into the brawl.
One bloke got arrested but when the local Senior Sergeant suggested to Hughes that he was wrong in pushing for the chucker to be charged with a Commonwealth rather than a State offence, the PM told the copper that he’d be dealt with as well.
Offended by such insolence, Hughes returned to the refined confines of Canberra and authorised the establishment of the Commonwealth Police Force, the precursor to the AFP.
There’s a plaque at the Warwick Station commemorating the ‘Warwick Egg Incident’ and, with the old refurbed O’Mahoneys Pub across the road, it makes a good start for this ride.
From the Station make your way west on Grafton St then take a left onto the Cunningham Hwy and then a right at the first lights signposted Goondiwindi.
Ten blocks down on the left you’ll see the Warwick Pie shop which is one of the better bakeries around, and once you’ve left town you have around 110km until you get to Inglewood where you can get fuel before a further 40kms to Yelarbon.
Here you have your first real chance to get off the highway.
When you head west out of town, just as the highway bends right follow the brown tourist sign straight ahead onto the Yelarbon Keetah Rd. This soon swings left and leads down to join the river and shadow it for a sweet ride into Goondiwindi. You’ll see the turn to your left to the Keetah Bridge over the Dumaresq River….one of the better swimming holes around if you need a dip.
If you’ve kept on the highway I reckon it’s better not to take the bypass (signposted ‘St George’) but to continue south to the two main servos and then right at the big roundabout and head down the main street of Goondiwindi which is a very nice rural hub town but without any truly motorcycle friendly hotel.
The first one of these you’ll find is out at Toobeah, a further 48kms to the west on the highway. From here it’s 140 kms further west to the end of the Barwon Hwy where you turn left onto the Carnarvon and then just 1.5km later take the right into the Nindigully Pub with its free camping, free showers and a great and responsive manager in Lynn.
Once you are done at the Nindi, get back to the Carnarvon, head north and into St George where you turn left onto Adventure Way (signposted Cunnamulla) and then over the bridge for the 288 kms to Cunnamulla. You are now officially in the Outback!
This is the longest dry stretch of the ride as there is no longer fuel at Bollon or Nebine.
From here it’s just under 198kms to Thargomindah and the first town you’ll pass through is Eulo with its interesting mud baths and, until he leaves in a couple of months to take over the pub at Dirranbandi, one of the ruder pub hosts it’ll be your misfortune to experience. Maybe take a bath but a stop at the pub won’t refresh you a bit!
Eulo is where you’ll have to make decisions about your routes.
1) If you want to go to Tharg (which is worth a visit) but are chiefly headed to Toompine, the most direct route between the two includes around 40km of unsealed dirt and gravel (though no sand).
Once you’ve finished in Thargomindah, head back east for 8kms til you see the left turn for Toompine and Quilpie. You have 20kms of good sealed road until the first of 2 sections of dirt with a few kms of tar in the middle for a total of about 40kms of gravel. You then have 50kms of empty outback sealed road to savour for the ride into Toompine.
2) If you prefer to give Tharg a miss and head directly to Toompine (and have a range of over 340kms) then you’ll turn north 18kms west of Eulo signposted Yowah and it’s sealed all the way. Simple!
3) But if time is no problem then you might want to go the full loop and head west from Tharg out through Noccundra with its mud brick pub and Eromanga (the most inland town in Oz) and then join us back at Quilpie. (Toompine is 75 kms off the Diamantina Dev Rd).)
Head west out of Tharg on Adventure Way for 122kms until you see the left turn sign for the Noccundra Hotel which is 20kms from the intersection, all sealed. Done here, retrace your path to Adventure Way and then take a left for Eromanga. The road changes name a few times but just keep following your front wheel for 160kms until you reach Australia’s most inland town.
From Eromanga head 100kms east (blending onto the Diamantina Development road until you turn right onto the Quilpie-Thargomindah Rd for the 75kms down to Toompine.
Hint: You probably should go into Quilpie, just 6kms from the turn to fill up with juice before heading back down to Toompine.