This rural town is in Queensland’s South Burnett Region, high in fertile countryside.
As if you needed proof that agriculture is a way of life in Kingaroy there’s a trio of silos slap bang in the middle of town.
These hulking structures were put up in the middle of the 20th century to store the region’s main crop, peanuts.
Kingaroy has even been dubbed the “Peanut Capital of Australia”, and one humble peanut van in town sells hundreds of tonnes of peanuts each year.
The high elevation in South Burnett allows for cooler nights and less humidity, ideal for growing warm climate wines, and there’s a smattering of cellar doors just out of town.
1. Kingaroy Heritage Museum
The cornerstone of a heritage, arts and culture precinct at the heart of Kingaroy is a museum shining a light on the town’s early days.
Appropriately the venue is Kingaroy’s former Power House, built in 1925 and operating until 1952. It’s no surprise that the peanut takes centre stage at the museum, as you’ll learn about the ingenuity and resourcefulness of local farmers, adapting and inventing their own threshers in the absence of dedicated peanut-farming machinery.
You can inspect these eccentric machines, as well as a catalogue of photographs, tools, household products, shop signs and appliances to glimpse an enthralling period from Kingaroy’s past.
2. The Peanut Van
With an unassuming main location in front of a Holden dealership, The Peanut Van is a real Kingaroy success story, selling around 300 tonnes of peanuts a year.
The van has been here since 1969, and is even credited with helping to kick-start the tourism industry in South Burnett.
There’s no better place to taste the product that is at the backbone of the local economy.
On offer are more than 20 varieties of sweet and savoury peanuts, among them Kingaroy Kurry, Tangy Lime and Hickory Smoked.
The van also stocks various peanut products, like peanut paste, peanut oil or unshelled peanuts.
3. South Burnett Wine Region
Queensland isn’t as well known for wine as NSW and Victoria, but the high altitude and fertile, pH-appropriate soils around Kingaroy create the right conditions for growing varieties like Verdelho, Merlot, Semillon, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
The first vineyards started cropping up in the 1990s, and South Burnett boasts the largest winery in the state, at Clovely Estate.
The region’s reds, like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, tend to be medium-bodied with subtly sweet berry flavours.
On this list we’ll mention a couple of wineries a stone’s throw from Kingaroy, but South Burnett is a delight to tour, with vineyards sprawling on the lush slopes.
4. Local Heritage
The Kingaroy Information, Art and Heritage Precinct, preserves a cluster of lovely old buildings and is also home to the Regional Art Gallery, which we’ll mention later.
In this group is the timber-built Carroll Cottage, Kingaroy’s first edifice and completed in phases between 1900 and the 1930s.
The same family established the nearby Carrollee Hotel, which bears the date 1904 but had to be rebuilt in a Federation style after a fire in 1913. Of course, we have to talk about the peanut silos, looming over Haly Street and the CBD.
These three commanding structures were built between 1938 and 1951 by the Queensland Marketing Board, testament to a local industry that goes back to 1901.
5. Kilkivan to Kingaroy Rail Trail
The old Nanango Rail Line was a narrow-gauge railway, starting out as a branch line extending west from Theebine to Kilkivan after gold and copper were discovered in the area.
The line eventually made its way south, reaching Kingaroy in 1900. The Kingaroy to Theebine section was finally closed in 2011 and over the last decade the tracks have been removed and an 88-kilometre trail has been set up as far as Kilkivan.
The good news, if you’re setting out from Kingaroy, is that the route is sealed with bitumen for 44 kilometres, all the way to Murgon, after which there’s an unsealed track.
Directly outside Kingaroy you’ll be in picture-perfect wine country, and the next village or town is never far away.
For a bite-sized trip you could amble or cycle to Crawford (5.3km) or Memerambi (11.1km), and read the interpretive boards laying out the railway’s history.
6. Kingaroy Observatory
South Burnett has low light pollution, and the night skies are significantly darker than 150 kilometres away on the Queensland coast.
Naturally this makes it an obvious spot for an observatory, and you can come by at night to gaze through the three Meade 14-inch telescopes.
Viewing sessions are arranged into two categories: Stars and Planets, to view star clusters, nebulas, the Milky Way and other galaxies, or Moon and Planet nights to see the Moon and the planets of the Solar System in startling detail.
If you’re here by day, the air-conditioned Star Theatre seats 70 and can show the surface of the Sun like you’ve never seen it before.
The best time to be at the observatory is autumn to spring when there’s less cloud cover.
7. Apex Park and Lookout
At this park in the town’s north-west you’ll be on the site of Kingaroy’s first public hospital.
The grounds were redeveloped in the 1960s, but the mature trees you see in Apex Park go back to the days of the hospital.
Just off Coral Street, which cuts the park in two from east to west, there’s a platform with a rewarding panorama of Kingaroy and its silos backdropped by the magnificent Bunya Mountains.
You’ll also be able to make out Coolabunia Hill, home of the late John and Florence Bjelke-Petersen, Queensland’s former premier and first lady.
Apex Park also has a playground for wee ones, while the grand old trees offer ample shade for picnics.
8. Mount Wooroolin Lookout
This summit four kilometres west of Kingaroy was turned into a reserve and lookout in 1988 to mark the Australian Bicentenary.
The reserve covers 65 acres, mostly under a cloak of dry vine forest and eucalypt woodland.
There’s a grassy space with picnic tables and barbecues, while the lookout on Mount Wooroolin’s peak can be climbed via an accessible ramp.
At the top you can enjoy views in all directions, with clear lines of sight to the Bunya Mountains and Tarong Power Station to the south, Coolabunia Hill to the south-east and the picturesque Gordonbrook Dam in the north-west.
Tarong Power Station provides one fifth of Queensland’s energy, while the Gordonbrook Dam is Kingaroy’s main source of water.
9. Kingaroy Regional Art Gallery
In the shadow of those colossal silos on Haly Street, the Kingaroy Regional Art Gallery is set in the Art Deco Shire Council Chambers, built in 1938. It’s a delightful place if you want to take the pulse of the regional art scene, with a vibrant program of exhibitions, events and activities throughout the year.
There are three gallery spaces with displays in a wide range of media.
Make sure to take a peek inside Shop 38, a sales space for more than 40 talented artists and crafters from the region.
10. Crane Wines
This boutique winery is barely 10 minutes out of Kingaroy and housed in a gorgeous old colonial homestead.
Crane Wines is high in the Booie Range, which favours the vines with cool nightly temperatures, but also sublime views over the valley to the east.
You can spend the night in the beautiful homestead, as the end wing has been turned into a B&B, with the best vistas over the valley from the verandah.
Crane Wines makes sweet, dry, sparkling and fortified wines, and you can sample them all at the rustic cellar door in the company of the winemaker.
Also on offer is a variety of homemade jams and chutneys, as well as organic cosmetics produced on the estate.
11. Kingsley Grove Estate
South-west of Kingaroy, Kingsley Grove Estate prides itself on being a self-sustaining winery, with all of the grapes for their range grown on-site.
The vineyard was first planted in 1998 and was ready in 2002 on the year of the estate’s first commercial vintage.
The winery uses state-of-the-art equipment allowing the winemaker to produce wines in traditional styles, while innovating with new creations suiting Kingaroy’s humid subtropical climate.
The cellar door is open daily for tastings, and the range features reds like Merlot, Sangiovese, Syrah and Shiraz, warm white varietals like Verdelho and Semillon, and a choice of rich fortified wines.
12. Pottique Lavender Farm
Another crop that does well in Kingaroy’s fertile soils is lavender, and you may be excited to know that there’s a farm for this herb is just outside the town.
A big selection of lavender products is available at the shop, from oil to soap, jams, chutney and dried lavender.
As well as a farm shop Pottique Lavender Farm has an antiques warehouse and a cafe serving Devonshire tea with delectable lavender scones.
The ideal time to come is May, June and July when the lavender field is in flower and you can head out to pick stems by the bunch.
13. Kingaroy Visitor Information Centre
A big plus point for the city’s visitor information centre is the location, opposite the silos and between the regional art gallery and heritage museum.
So if you’re in need of any pointers to get the most out of South Burnett, you won’t have to go far.
The centre offers a host of free services, from one-to-one advice, to booking accommodation and tours and providing leaflets for events, attractions and itineraries.
The staff are volunteers with a real love for their home, and a depth of knowledge that comes from it.
The centre’s shop also deserves a mention, selling many of the goodies we’ve mentioned in this list, like wine and peanut products.
14. Ringsfield House Museum
Meriting the short drive to Narango is this elegant homestead built in 1908 and designed by noted Queensland architect Robin Dods.
The house has had a few different roles, starting out as a fine residence, then becoming a maternity hospital (almost 4,000 babies were delivered here between 1942 and 1970), then serving as a Lifeline refuge before becoming a house museum in 1992. Ringsfield House stands out for its broad verandahs, and airy, outsized bedrooms.
There’s period furniture and historical displays inside, as well as a cafe for light meals or a hot drink in a refined setting.
15. Nanango Country Market
On the first Saturday of the month Nanango stages a gigantic market, touted as the largest of its kind in South East Queensland.
The Nanango Country Market is attended by an ever-changing contingent of up to 320 stallholders, so there’s always something different.
For a taster you’ll find seasonal fresh produce, honey, seafood, meat, poultry, cheese, plants, furniture, jewellery, toys, homewares, arts and crafts and pet supplies.
Bring an appetite because there’s also an enticing choice of food and coffee outlets.