Big Skies

Regional Tours

The Western Downs has a strong economic history steeped in agriculture, manufacturing and energy, and now Big Skies is giving travellers far and wide the unique opportunity to be a part of the authentic rural experience. Come along to one of our chartered regional tours from Thursday 2 May to Friday 3 May to see why the Western Downs is the perfect place to live, work and play. With stunning views and food for all on these exclusive tours, travelling our region has never sounded better.

Tour One - Miles Agricultural Leaders Tour
Thursday 2 May - 8am to 4.30pm

Gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the work that makes the Western Downs prosper and join us on a full-day tour across Miles to explore our impressive agricultural businesses. Make sure to bring your hat and sunscreen and wear some closed in shoes for when you are exploring these local operators.

The first stop on the tour is at Devon Court Herefords, a leading integrated cattle and farming company with a deep history dating all the way back to 1933. You can expect to hear brothers Tom and Alex Nixon explain all there is to know about their specialised Hereford genetics, embryo programs and bull sales, and learn about Hereford's great meat quality while enjoying morning tea.

Next is a visit to Teys Australia Feedlot in Condamine, one of the biggest feedlots in the region. Here, General Manager Phil Lambert will describe the exciting daily operations that make for a successful feedlot, while ensuring animal welfare standards are upheld to the highest standard. Teys' feeding program delivers high quality beef and a perfect steak, which you will have the pleasure of trying on tour with a BBQ lunch.

Finally, see for yourself a modern cotton farming operation. Tinobah is a 1400 ha enterprise, rotating cotton, wheat and cattle. It is owned and operated by Darling Downs Cotton Grower of the Year 2017, the Uebergang family. Here you can observe this year’s cotton crop reaching maturity and hopefully in the process of being picked during your visit. Afternoon tea will be included.

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Tour Two - Dalby District Agricultural Success Tour
Thursday 2 May - 8am to 4.30pm

Join us on a full-day tour to the Dalby district and explore two of the leading businesses that help sustain our community in an area that boasts agricultural success.

The first stop on Tour Two, Breza Cotton Farm, is the perfect place to experience the processes of cotton production. 2015 Vanderfield Darling Downs Cotton Growers of the Year Brett and Liza Crothers are giving us the opportunity to observe their 1300 hectare farm, where the cotton is ready for harvest.

After lunch in Dalby, the next stop will be Aronui Feedlot, the oldest commercial feedlot in Australia established back in 1964. As a world leader in agricultural products and Australia's largest beef producer, AACo, the current owners of the feedlot, have a long and proud history in an area that holds some of Queensland's most productive and resource-rich soils.

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Tour Three - Dalby's Rich History and Manufacturing Tour
Thursday 2 May - 8.30am to 4.30pm

Come along to Dalby and explore the rich history of the region, along with the present-day successes of our flourishing local businesses leading the manufacturing industry. Don't forget your closed in shoes for this tour.

Explore the Dalby Pioneer Park Museum which displays one of the largest collections of working agricultural machinery in Queensland, as well as authentic heritage items. Visitors get a chance to catch a glimpse of the lives of our earlier generations, and with free entry exclusive to this tour, there is sure to be something to capture and intrigue every visitor in this treasury trove of history.

The next stop is White Industries, one of the largest privately-owned metal founders and CNC machinists in Australia, producing casting solutions for all types of industries. During our visit, you will see and experience the process of how metal castings are produced, a rare opportunity you certainly won't want to miss.

The third company we'll visit is Simplicity Australia. Simplicity is home to some of the most comprehensive and innovative ranges of Air Seeders in Australia, attracting both national and international markets. On the tour you'll get a chance to learn all about the company's success and how the business operates behind the scenes.

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Tour Four - Tara District Historical and Agricultural Traditions Tour
Thursday 2 May - 8am to 4.30pm

Join us on a full-day tour to the Tara district where you will not only get to experience agricultural traditions and a sheep shearing, but you can also view the rich history at the Meandarra ANZAC Museum.

We are pleased to invite famous bush poet Geoffrey Graham on the Tara regional tour. Though an actor, comedian, singer and raconteur throughout his life, Geoffrey has always embraced his talent of poetry and with his own entertainment company Dinkum Oz, his work has been able to flourish and receive national recognition. We are excited to get the opportunity to meet this talented entertainer on our regional tours this year.

On the tour, James Moran will show you around his beautiful property located in The Gums. Not only will you explore farming traditions and have close up encounters with his livestock but you will also get to experience a live sheep shearing demo with morning tea included.

We'll also be visiting the Meandarra ANZAC Memorial Museum, which houses a large and comprehensive display of military memorabilia collected by dedicated locals over the past 30 years covering many of the battles in which our local war veterans fought. With entry to the museum included in the tour cost, this is a piece of history you won't want to miss.

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Tour Five - Sustainable Energy Exploration Tour
Thursday 2 May - 8.30am to 4.30pm

Get ready for an adventure as we invite you to join us on a unique day tour around Dalby district. From gardens walks to energy talks, come explore the best of the Western Downs as we tour the energy capital of Queensland. Make sure to wear your closed in shoes, long sleeves and long pants. There are only 24 spots on this tour so get in quick!

The first stop is Australia’s first grain-to-ethanol facility, the Dalby Bio-Refinery. Commissioned in 2008, the facility is one of the largest consumers of sorghum in the Darling Downs region. See firsthand how this impressive company converts nearly 190,000 metric tonnes of sorghum into 76 million litres of fuel-grade ethanol and high value animal feed products in this innovative refinery.

Next, see how parishioners at Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Community Bell are putting their faith into practice by planting a garden. Envisioned in 2008, the Bell Biblical Garden is a unique hub of creativity and design inspired by the way nature is presented in the Bible. Witness the beautiful garden at the historic Church that is fast becoming a popular tourist attraction.

Set to be Australia's largest wind farm, Coopers Gap Wind Farm is a great example of AGL's commitment to building a sustainable energy future. Come see the renewable energy site that will have a capacity of 453 MW and will produce around 1,510,000 MWh of energy which will power approximately 264,000 Australian homes.

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Tour Six - Western Downs Agricultural Leaders Tour
Friday 3 May - 8am to 4.30pm

Join us on a full-day tour of more of the regions outstanding agri-businesses, as we continue to explore the importance of agriculture on the Western Downs. We recommend bringing along a hat, sunscreen and closed in shoes for a full day of Agri-Business Exploring.

First up, visit the locally owned and operated Rosevale Santa Gertrudis Stud. With a rich history, the residence has been in the Greenup family for six generations. Spanning an area of 12,000 hectares, the program focusses on turning off pasture-fed beef cattle and breeding bulls for cattle herds Australia-wide. 2019 will see the 63rd Annual Rosevale Sale being staged – the longest running on-property bull sale in the country. Come and experience how the Rosevale herd is managed and enjoy complimentary morning tea.

Come see Berwyndale, a farm that grows cotton and sorghum in summer and grains in winter, along with a herd of cattle. It’s an outstanding property to visit, as the sorghum will be ready to harvest and the cotton close to picking upon our visit.

Finally, we’ll be visiting the renowned Wallumba Feedlot. Dating back to 1827, the MDH family has a long association with rural Australia, and they were lucky enough to receive the 2015 Premier of Queensland's Regional Exporter Award, for outstanding international success by a business whose head office is based in a non-metropolitan location. Wallumba station is a leader in the industry, and a must see on this trip.

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Tour Seven - Chinchilla Historical and Agriculture Tour
Friday 3 May - 8.30am to 4.30pm

Come along to a full-day tour of Chinchilla and explore the outstanding agricultural industry, as well as the spectacular new projects bringing tourism to the area. We recommend closed in shoes, a hat and sunscreen for a fun day in the sun.

The first stop will be held at Burradoo Plains. Receivers of the Darling Downs Cotton Grower of the Year in 2017 and Finalists at the Cotton Growers Awards in 2018, Burradoo Plains is a unique operation run by Greg and Maryann Bender. With a 300-hectare farm of cotton covering the land, the newly installed lateral move irrigator is said to be one of the biggest ones in the country, an impressive setup which can be seen on tour.

If you want to step away from the farm and step back into history, come see the Cactoblastic Monument. The unique memorial is well worth a visit, commemorating the destruction of the prickly pear by the Cactoblastis moth in Queensland and Northern New South Wales between 1926 and 1933. Displaying an important part of agricultural history, join Lindsay Marsden as he explains the events behind the monument.

Wombats, watermelons and whitegums are just some of the highlights of the Chinchilla Botanic Parklands – and we'll be some of the first to experience it! Opening in April 2019, this brand new $5.9 million facility celebrates the unique history of Chinchilla. Discover the region's railway heritage and prehistoric roots, witness the impressive amphitheatre and even take a dip at Queensland's first waterpark west of the coastline.

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Tour Eight - Wandoan's History and Timber Industry Tour
Friday 3 May - 8am to 4.30pm

Join us on a full-day tour to explore the history and the successes of thriving industries across the smaller communities in the Western Downs. Don't forget your closed in shoes for this tour, other PPE will be provided.

Jandowae is well known as the Timber Town, as the production of timber is historically one of the largest industries in the area. This is still celebrated biennially with the Timbertown Festival. We will make a short stop to see the old timber factory and historic sawmill, where previous owner Don Blinco will tell you all about the timber operations.

To continue on the timber journey, we will take a look at Wandoan Mill owned by one of the largest hardwood timber producer in the Southern Hemisphere: the Parkside Group. Since its humble beginnings, Parkside has devolved over many years to become the multifaceted business that it is today, and this tour is a perfect opportunity to experience the manufacturing process of such a historic company.

The last stop on this tour is the historic Heritage Society Museum: the Juandah Historical Site. A truly unique slice of history, you can still find some of the original buildings from the site of the Juandah Head-Station, which was established in the 1840s to later become known as Wandoan. There's lots to see and experience at the Juandah Historical Site, and with free entry as part of the tour, we invite you to come learn about the life and history of the Wandoan District, all the way from the first exploration by Ludwig Leichhardt in 1844.

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Tour Nine - Western Downs Thriving Industries Tour
Friday 3 May - 8.30am to 4pm

Witness two excellent manufacturing companies in operation on the Western Downs as we continue to explore the industries that contribute to the region. Closed shoes are required for this tour.

The first stop is at an iconic Australian company that manufactures Mini Diggers, Dingo Australia. As a company that prides themselves on being the world’s best Mini Digger, Aussie Made, Aussie Owned, Aussie Proud and Aussie Tough and, are built to handle our Australian conditions. Dingo Australia is locally based, yet remains part of a nation-wide branch and dealer network servicing Australia and overseas. Visiting this local company will allow you to see how the Dingo Mini Digger and all of the attachments that are manufactured right here in Dalby.

Next you will have the opportunity to witness the subsidiary branch of the local company Simplicity - Simplicity Coatings. Established in 2016, Simplicity Coatings is a Dalby based business specialising in sand blasting, powder coating, automotive and industrial painting as well as protective coatings for the automotive, agricultural, earthmoving, gas and mining sectors. See their powder coating equipment including a 12m oven, one of the largest powder ovens in the Southern Hemisphere. Simplicity Coatings is your “One Stop Powder and Paint Shop”.

With stunning views out in the country, the APA Solar Farm is definitely worth a visit. The 110-megawatt solar farm near Dalby is a site to see on this tour, with approximately 430,000 solar panels covering 250 hectares. Come see the farm in action and experience the process of renewable energy production.

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Tour Ten - Western Downs Energy Capital Tour
Friday 3 May - 8am to 4.30pm

Coal and gas are two traditional pillars of energy and the biggest contributor to the regional economy. Join us on this day tour to learn all about coal seam gas and the generation of power. Remember to wear long sleeves, long pants and closed in shoes for this tour, a hat is also highly recommended.

As Australia's leading integrated energy company, Origin is the largest owner of natural gas-fired power stations in Australia, and through Australia Pacific LNG, Origin supplies natural gas from the region to domestic and export markets. Join us to see what happens behind the scenes at the Talinga gas processing facility. Morning tea is included, and comfortable, enclosed footwear is recommended, along with a hat and long-sleeved shirt.

Continuing the energy exploration, we will be visiting the 6,000 head Condabri Feedlot. Owners Simon and Kylie Drury have allowed Origin to build 48 coal seam gas wells on their 2000-hectare property, allowing us to see energy production in action. Condabri is a great example of how energy and intensive agriculture are co-dependent for success, and with lunch on offer at this great location, this is sure to be a highlight on the tour.

The last stop is at CS Energy’s Kogan Creek Power Station, one of Australia’s most efficient and technically advanced coal-fired power stations. Located near Chinchilla, the power station contains the largest single generating unit in Australia, generating up to 750 megawatts of baseload electricity. That's enough to power one million Australian homes! During our visit from a designated viewing area, you will learn about how electricity is generated at Kogan Creek Power Station and how it is one of the most water efficient power stations in Australia.

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Regional Tours Terms and Conditions: In the event there are insufficient numbers booked for a particular tour, Council may elect in its sole discretion to cancel that tour. Those customers that have paid for a seat on a cancelled tour will have the option to transfer to another tour or to have their tour fares for the cancelled tour refunded. Customers will be notified by email if their tour is cancelled.