The Road Ahead : August September 2007
a town like... Nanango TRAVEL & LEISURE STORY & PHOTOS JIM MATHERS Small towns often have rich histories and colour ful characters, as well as a fair bit to offer visitors if you're prepared to scratch below the sur face. Such is the case with Nanango, about 200 km nor th-west of Brisbane. Let's star t with Ringsfield House, in Alfred Street. The house was designed by architect Robin Dods and built in 1908 for Florence and James Graham. It was a private residence until 1942, when it became a maternity hospital. Over the next 30 years, they say some 4000 babies were born there. From the early 1970s, Ringsfield was used by Lifeline as a 'safe house' for abused women and children. After 20 years, the Nanango Shire Council took over the house and restored it. It's in immaculate condition and visitors can wander through all the rooms and the grounds, which includes the old Ringsfield School (circa 1866). Ringsfield opens from Monday to Friday, 10am to 2pm, or by appointment. Entr y costs $5, which includes tea or coffee. A Devonshire Tea costs $3.50. You can wander through yourself, admiring the architecture, antique furniture and historical displays or, better still, hook up with a volunteer guide. My guide was 83-year-old local Jim Mangan. Jim has spent his whole life in Nanango. Aside from having a good knowledge of the area, including Ringsfield's histor y, he is a published bush poet and a good stor yteller. While Ringsfield should be on your itinerar y for Nanango, you can get tips on other local attractions from the visitor information centre, in Henr y Street. Pick up brochures for the self-guided heritage trail, historic walk or mural walk. There are some nice, old buildings to check out, and the series of 16 large murals (plus chainsaw sculptures) reflect the area's historical connections with the timber, farming and mining industries. Nanango's first commercial building, Goode's Inn, was built in 1848, and the population surged in the late 1800s when gold was discovered at Seven Mile Diggings (not surprisingly, seven miles from the inn). You can still explore and fossick at Seven Mile (permits required). Tipperar y Flat is another spot which captures the past. Located at the southern entrance to town, the park displays pioneering paraphernalia, including a slab hat, stone well, round yards, windmill and a Cornish boiler. For a change of pace, pop into Whistle Stop Wines nearby. Housed in a tastefully renovated cottage next to the site of the old railway, Whistle Stop offers tasty light meals, tea and coffee and wine tasting. You can sit inside or outside, there's a playground for kids and a range of local products are offered for sale. Wines range from $8 to $20 and include semillon, chardonnay, verdelho, cabernet sauvignon and a Railway Red blend. There's also a novelty label 'Dinky-Di' range, featuring Raw Prawn, Bum Steer and Cock & Bull whites and reds. At the time of writing, the Whistle Stop outlet was for sale, so check with the information centre if you intend to visit. Other local attractions include the Runnymede Sheep Dair y, alpaca farms and the Nanango Countr y Market which, on the first Saturday of ever y month, features more than 350 stalls. Accommodation in the region includes caravan parks, hotels, motels, farmstays and cottages. Plan ahead Log on to RACQ's online trip planner, at racq.com, to help plan your driving holiday and accommodation. MAIN PHOTO: Nanango township. INSETS, FROM LEFT: A building mural. Ringsfield House. Local poet, Jim Mangan.
June July 2007
October November 2007