Ask a Queenslander to cite one thing they know about Kingaroy and most will respond with ‘Joh’; Joh Bjelke Petersen that is, Queensland’s longest serving and most controversial premier (1968-1987) who called this South Burnett town home. From crushing unions to outlawing protest marches to plunging the state into the infamous Fitzgerald Inquiry all the while telling voters, ‘Don’t you worry about that’, Joh provided many youth with our rites of political passage and the pursuit of anything that wasn’t this.
Those heady and hedonistic days are long gone, and Kingaroy has moved on. These days, it’s agriculture that takes centre stage; peanuts still figure strongly and have done since the 1920s. However, in a bold new venture for farmers, it’s grapes and wine that are putting Kingaroy firmly on the tourist trail. Long story short, the drink of the Gods produced here definitely warrants a visit.
The area is experiencing very dry conditions at the moment. Bjelke Peterson Dam water levels are just 12% and everyone is waiting for the promised December rains. Nevertheless, the wine show goes on. And it’s a pretty good show: vineyards yield Merlot, Sangiovese, Semillon, Shiraz, Cab Sav and surprisingly, Saperavi. Wineries with friendly staff (often family members) ensure generous tastings and easy conversations.
There’s plenty to do and see in the Kingaroy area with the added bonus that it’s not too far from Brisbane. I’d suggest spending a few days.
If you’re a cyclist, then try the South Burnett Rail Trail which connects Kingaroy to Kilkivan. For more info discoversouthburnett.com.au
Next stop: After 6000kms of travelling, it’s time for us to head home.