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
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 or Thursday, 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 and Thursday morning from 8.30am, no bookings are required – just meet in the Bull Ring area and follow the prompts.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Fill your belly with some outback hospitality
You’re in for a classic outback feast when you sit down to dine at the Roma Explorers Inn.
It offers the usual country fare like pie and beef rissoles, along with pork belly, lamb shoulder, and salmon.
You won’t struggle with your iron intake out here – steak is the signature dish, at least at both the Explorers Inn and the Kings Motor Inn and Steakhouse. If you’re more herbivore than carnivore, head to The Tasting Co, which serves fruit and veggies the tasty way – with smoothies, salads, granola cups, and fruit platters.
5. Discover hidden worlds
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.
6. Get a history lesson
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
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 .
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.