10 Things to Do in Roma

The Big Rig in Roma is a museum showcasing the developments and and drama of when oil and gas was first discovered in Australia.  The story of oil and gas pioneers comes alive through exhibits, machinery displays and audio-visual features.
The Big Rig in Roma is a museum showcasing the developments and and drama of when oil and gas was first discovered in Australia. The story of oil and gas pioneers comes alive through exhibits, machinery displays and audio-visual features.

From rigs, rumps and races to cattle, coolibahs and Carnarvon Gorge – Roma serves up one helluva taste-test of outback life.

And you’ll find it just six hours from Brisbane, just west of the Great Dividing Range.

If you find yourself 480km west of the big smoke, here’s how we recommend roaming around Roma.

1. Take a visitor tour of the Roma Saleyards

Roma Saleyards: Cattle auction facility located in Roma, Australia. Largest cattle selling center in the southern hemisphere, facilitating trade and commerce in the livestock industry.
Roma Saleyards, the largest cattle selling centre in Australia.

Just as the Great Barrier Reef is known for fish, Roma is known for its cattle, the ones being auctioned off at their famous saleyards that is. If you’re in town on a Tuesday, you’re in luck, because the town’s centre comes alive with the sounds of sales.

The Roma Saleyards are the biggest cattle saleyards in the southern hemisphere, with over 400,000 cows moo-ving through the yards each year. Visitor Tours run every Tuesday morning from 8.15am, no bookings are required – just meet in the Bull Ring area and follow the prompts. For more information, please contact the Roma Visitor Information Centre.

2. Explore the Essence of Western Queensland

Robust, untamed, earthy, infused with native botanicals. Exudes the essence of vast open plains, dusty red soil, and sun-baked landscapes. A true embodiment of Western Queensland's adventurous, resilient, and wild spirit.

Outback Queensland first and only Distillery – Western Queensland Spirit has just opened it’s Cellar Door.  As a hand crafted, small-batch distillery, they make Vodka, Gins, Rum and Liqueurs that feature the unique botanicals found in the Western Queensland outback.

The Cellar Door is open on Saturday’s and Sunday’s from 11am and throughout School Holidays from Tuesday to Sunday.  Stop by to try a Tasting Paddle, savour a cocktail, or relax and enjoy yourself across the acres of green grass playing lawn games or watching the world go by from your very own beanbag.  Light food options are available, including their signature grazing platter that features Western Queensland product.

3. Discover hidden worlds

Nestled amongst the magnificent sandstone cliffs of the Carnarvon Ranges, Wallaroo is a 72,000 acre cattle property owned by Pauline and Justin MacDonnell. 
The retreat is found approximately 160km north of Roma, near the iconic Carnarvon Gorge.

Did you know Roma is located on the cusp of one of Outback Queensland’s most picturesque national parks?

Join Boobook Ecotours which departs Roma and  offer different tours to suit any taste, take the opportunity of a lifetime to explore the oasis of the Queensland Outback. Uncover the hidden wonders of secluded gorges of the Carnarvon Ranges and marvel at the beauty of its rock formations and unique Aboriginal Art Sites. Wander through the array of natural colour in the Gurulmundi wildflower area where over 350 native Australian species grow.

Discover which tour is for you (or get excited about them all) with this guide to the hidden gems of Roma.

4. Watch a Big Rig night show

What do you get when you mix trivia and a show? You get your evening entertainment – at the Big Rig Night Show.

Join them on a sunset tour to the EMSCO Rig and enjoy some ‘really’ good regional Port whilst hearing the stories of yesteryear. As the sun sets relax under the outback skies as you are taken on a 35 minute sound and light journey to learn of the entertaining trials and triumphs of early industry men and women in Roma.

If you’re keen to delve deeper into the oil well, spend a morning at the Big Rig Oil Patch Museum where you can get see historical rigs, interpretive displays, and other old-fashioned machinery that contributed to the industry.

5. Get back to nature at the Roma Bush Gardens

For a full immersion into the Australian country, there’s nothing like exploring the 14 hectares of native flora and fauna in the Roma Bush Gardens.

Birdwatch along Railway Dam and wander through the 11 different vegetation communities found around Roma, including Mulga, Brigalow, and Coolibah bushland.

6. Get a history lesson

The Roma Bottle tree is a unique species with a distinctive bottle-shaped trunk and vibrant foliage, native to the Roma region. It's a symbol of beauty and resilience.

Ever heard the tale of Captain Starlight? If the answer was a no head to the Roma Courthouse, where the trial of the infamous Harry Redford (known as Captain Starlight) took place in 1873 after the captain stole 1,000 cattle and drove them into South Australia.

The court house’s original structure from 1873 was replaced with its current building in 1901, with the heritage-listed building still a working courthouse today.

Venture a few streets further to peek through the stain glassed windows at St Paul’s Anglican Church, which were originally installed in 1875.

Just by wandering about, you’ll soon notice a certain type of tree that has sprung up all around town.

If the bottle trees take your fancy, stop by for a photo with Roma’s largest bottle tree at the end of Edwardes Street.

7. Wander down Hero’s Avenue

Finish off your history lesson with a stroll down Hero’s Avenue.

The street, aptly named, features 140 bottle trees that were planted along the sidewalks in 1920 to play tribute to the local soldiers who died in World War I.

At the end of the avenue there’s a memorial in Queens Park, where a list of soldier’s names are displayed along with nine pine trees which were said to be from seeds collected in Gallipoli (shhh – don’t tell customs).

8. Find an Easter egg or two

Celebrate all things about this country at Roma’s Easter in the Country.

The five-day festival, held every year at Easter time has an action-packed itinerary that has something for the whole family, from art, song, and poetry shows to a rodeo and mud derby.

Be sure to treat the kids to the Monster Easter Egg Hunt on the Friday afternoon. Kicking off from 3.20pm with games like egg and spoon and sack races, the Easter Bunny is set to arrive at 4.30pm before the hunt begins at 5pm.

You won’t need to worry about sugar overloads though, the kids are encouraged to share their finds.

A must-do activity at the festival is attend Queensland’s richest goat race (a whopping $1,500 up for grabs) at Roma’s Easter in the Country Cup.

This isn’t your typical goat race – kids have the opportunity to play jockey and race their goats along the track from the comforts of a cart. Yee-hah!

9. Head to the races

#OutbackQueensland photo by Jackie Erikson

If you love a good picnic and get giddy about the races, then head west for the Roma Picnic Races.

Although there won’t actually be a picnic to laze at, we think the adrenaline-inducing excitement of the five race program will keep you entertained.

If you’re still wondering how the races got their name – way back in Roma’s racing history, the horses were grass-fed only, sparking the picnic title.

Now this ain’t no casual affair – the ladies dress to impress in sophisticated race-day attire for the fashion on the fields, while men are expected to honour the ‘coat and tie’ standard.

There’s even a Black Tie Ball held on the night before the races to kick off the festivities in style.

10. Take off on a roadtrip

Push your annual leave to the limit and take off from Roma on an outback road trip. All roads might not lead to Roma… but certainly a lot of roads lead out of it .

Venture west along the Warrego Way that takes you 1,578km from Brisbane to Birdsville, stopping in Mitchell, Charleville, and Windorah.

If you’re keen on switching up the directions, take a right turn at Charleville for a trip through the heart of Queensland along the Matilda Way. This 1,812km highway takes you through Tambo, Blackall, Longreach, Winton, and Cloncurry (to name a few).

If you’re after the best of both worlds, take the Great Inland Way north from Roma to go from country to coast, with Cooktown in the tropical north as your destination.

Have you been to Roma? What did you do while there?

This post is sponsored by the Roma Big Rig.