The Road Ahead : October November 2007
TRAVEL & LEISURE a town like... Gayndah STORY & PHOTOS DAVID GILCHRIST In the Burnett River Valley, 143 km west of Mar yborough, the township of Gayndah waits, quietly hiding its secrets and histor y. With a population of around 3000, Gayndah is known in the Burnett region as the 'citrus capital'. It is just over halfway along the Queensland section of the Countr y Way drive, that stretches from Stanthorpe to Rockhampton. Archer's Lookout, on the town's southern border, provides an all-encompassing view of a town that claims to be the oldest in Queensland. Take in the view, but remember the oldest town claim is an issue of semantics. Brisbane and Ipswich are older but are classed as cities, so Gayndah is the oldest town. From 1849, the town grew gradually, getting its first bank in 1864. The following year, a bushranger known as The Wild Scotsman robbed it. That year, a simple brick cottage was built. A centur y later it became the centrepiece of the Gayndah Historic Museum. These days, the main drag, Meson Street carries visitors past the Jockey Club memorial to another of Gayndah's historical interpretations, The Grand Hotel. The two-storey Grand boasts that it is the oldest pub in the oldest town. This doesn't mean it is the oldest pub in Queensland. Circa 1925, the Grand Hotel is home to the first Gayndah secret -- the best restaurant in town. Here the meals like lamb-shanks are af fordable, generous and flavoursome. Also in Meson Street, near the ar t deco council chambers, is the Gayndah Baker y. It is a large weatherboard shop, with great pies and the chance to sip latte at outdoor tables or in the bush-house lounge telling yarns. Don't believe the baker's tall tale about the old wooden paddle above the door. It is not from river longboats. Near the baker y is Mellor's Haberdasher y, with its original 1950s fittings and operational flying fox still delivering change to the office in the centre of the store. Nearby is the Bevan Sur tees shoe shop, with shoe repair equipment dating back to the 1920s. In cooler months, Gayndah transforms from a quiet countr y town to a multi-cultural hangout for young international backpackers employed for the citrus picking season. Backpackers tend to stay in the two caravan parks, or budget accommodation in the three hotels including The Grand, Burnett and Orange. You'll find more digs at any of the three motels. Nightlife-wise, older locals choose The Grand, while the younger crowd congregate at The Orange Hotel. Those looking to dip a hook into the Burnett River in the hope of catching yellowbelly or barramundi can take a tip from locals, who do not wish to be named. They say that the best fishing spot within a shor t distance of town is Gray's Waterhole or the weir. All they ask is that you just don't tell anyone else. Plan ahead Log on to RACQ's online trip planner, at racq.com, to help plan your driving holiday and accommodation. MAIN PHOTO: Gayndah township. INSETS, FROM LEFT: Gayndah museum. The Grand Hotel. A Grand old truck.
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August September 2007