LAKE LESLIE TOURIST PARK, WARWICK
Sitting on the banks of the Condamine River, historic Warwick – known for its roses and rodeo – features some of the state’s finest original sandstone buildings. Known as the ‘Rose and Rodeo Capital’, Warwick was settled over 150 years ago and has an interesting history to tell.
Warwick’s famous Rose and Rodeo Festival is held on the last weekend in October. Come and see Australia’s best rodeo riders compete for their share in the glory. Boasting some of the country’s richest prizes, the Rodeo can trace its roots to a professional buck jumping contest of 1857. At the Australian Rodeo Heritage Centre you can explore the tales and memorabilia of rodeo pioneers and champions. Warwick’s famous son, Jackie Howe, who still holds the bladeshearing world record set in 1892 for 321 sheep shorn in a day, is recognised with two memorials in Warwick.
Steam train buffs should plan their visit to take a trip on the Southern Downs Steam Railway’s “Downs Dasher” C17 Steam Locomotive No. 971 built in 1950. Runs operate monthly from Warwick to Clifton or Wallangarra. Keen anglers can throw a line in the Condamine River, or enjoy shore fishing at Connolly Dam, a short drive south-east of Warwick. Nearby Leslie Dam is a great picnic and swimming spot and is well stocked for shore and boat fishing.
We left the bustle of the city behind as we set off on a three-day weekend at Leslie dam with a Social 4wd Group. We drove along the Border Range Loop. This scenic route took us from Brisbane to Ipswich and across the Great Dividing Range to Warwick before heading to 12 kilometers west to Lake Leslie Tourist Park. The drive encompasses the state’s oldest provincial city, one of its most picturesque areas and a World Heritage-listed rainforest reserve. Mountainous views, ancient trees, wildlife, waterfalls and fresh creeks. Sightseeing and a spot of fishing are the order of these three days. Be sure to bring a camera and a spare memory stick to capture the countless points of interest and intrigue along the way.
We unpacked our gear and started exploring the Dam. Leslie Dam was built across the Condamine River to supplement the groundwater supply for irrigating farms along the North Branch of the Condamine River. The dam was named after a pioneer of this area. Patrick Leslie settled here and established a very sizeable station. The sculptures near the Dam Lookout are in memory of Patrick and his wife Kate. The lookout gives way to great views over the lake. All the natural boulders in this area are also interesting. We spent a bit of time letting our puppy (Shari) run loose. We headed back and caught up with everyone at the campfire. Late afternoon was a spectacular sunset.
The next morning we headed in to Warwick CBD, while the others went the tourist train to Clifton for the day. Nestled on the banks of the Condamine River lies the “Rose and Rodeo Capital’ of Warwick, and host to the annual October hoedown of Australia’s elite bull riders. We took a walk in the main street and ended at the markets in the park. Just before lunch we headed back to the dam for lunch and a spot of fishing. With the dam at 12% you would think the chances of catching some fish would be high.
No luck and no fish, we headed back and joined everyone at the fire for a yarns and drinks.