On the banks of the Balonne River is the Western Downs town of St George. It is the last post in southern Queensland before the heavily populated east coast finally gives way to the sparseness of the outback. The river crossing was discovered by explorer Sir Thomas Mitchell in 1846, giving the town its name.
St George is often referred to as the inland fishing capital of Queensland with lakes and rivers nearby, which also support the area’s rich cotton, grape and grain industry.
The History Behind St George
Located on the Balonne River, St George is home to the vast flatlands of Darling Downs. The area of St George stretches far beyond the Great Dividing Range. The town provides services to wheat, sheep and cotton farmers in the surrounding areas as well as fruits, vegetables, beef and wine, which have enriched the local economy in recent years.
Sir Thomas Mitchell, who arrived on the banks of the river in 1946, named the town St George. A plaque on the outside of town explains the origin of the name: ‘At this spot on St Georges Day April 23 – Sir Thomas Mitchell crossed the Balonne and established a camp calling the crossing St George Bridge.
St George Attractions
St George Heritage Trail – This comprehensive heritage trail brochure can be downloaded here. It lists 31 places of Historic interest around the town
Rowden Park – Situated between Balonne River and Victoria St was where Dr Earnest Seidel grew the first wine grapes in the district. Occurring in 1862.
St George Pilots Memorial – The memorial honours two local pilots who flew in WWII. Heartbreakingly, the two lost their lives during the war as they were killed in 1942. The two pilots were instrumental in preventing the Japanese advance on Port Moresby.
Andrew Nixon Bridge/ Jack Taylor Weir – The first bridge to be constructed across the Balonne River.
Mitchell’s Cairn – The cairn and plaque represent the spot in which Sir Thomas Mitchell reached the banks of the Balonne River, which he named St George Bridge.
The Cobb & Co Hotel – Licenced in 1886, the hotel was previously a booking office for the Mungindi Coach.
The Unique Egg – An unusual collection of beautifully hand-carved emu eggs. Designed by Steve Margaritis over a period of 60 years.
For more information about St George, head to our article about the unique egg. Check out our Top 5 Stops on along the Adventure Way.