Chinchilla is a town in the Western Downs region of Queensland, Australia. At the 2006 Census, it had a population of 3,681 people.
Situated 300km north-west of Brisbane on the Warrego Highway, don’t be fooled by how Chinchilla looks from the highway – the town actually lies across the railway bridge. There is plenty to see and do, and some really interesting local history.
Chinchilla is probably most famous for its biannual Melon Festival, and its 'Chinchilla Red' petrified wood.
Chinchilla Visitor Information Centre
Heeney Street is the main street of Chinchilla, and runs perpendicular to the highway. Most of the shops (and pubs) can be found along this street, although the main grocery store, and a complex with a few other shops and cafes, is on nearby Middle Street.
The Chinchilla Visitor Information Centre, located on the Warrego Highway, is a good place to make your first stop. The friendly staff can provide you with maps, pretty much any brochure you could wish for, and local knowledge. You can also relax on their lovely verandah with a Devonshire tea with freshly-made scones.
Chinchilla was first officially recorded by Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Leichhardt in 1844 during one of his expeditions out west, and there is some debate over where the name ‘Chinchilla’ came from. There is a town named Chinchilla in Spain, or a small rodent called a Chinchilla (the fur of which was a valuable commodity - and early settlers in the Chinchilla area trapped possums for their fur). However, most agree that it came from the local Aboriginal word for the Cypress Pine, Jinchilla. Local legend says that when the application for land was made in 1846 by the first white settler, Matthew Goggs, the Sydney Registrations Office changed the name from Jinchilla to Chinchilla.
However, Chinchilla was officially surveyed and established in 1877. Its main industries were agriculture, timber and dairy. Today the main industry is agriculture, and Chinchilla is famous for its melons (which are delicious) – the town supplies approximately 25% of Australia’s melons.
In the 1890’s, the prickly pear pandemic arrived in Chinchilla and everything they tried to remove the pear failed. In 1925 the government introduced Cactoblastis cactorum, a moth from South America. It lays its eggs on the plant and when the larva hatches it eats its way through the plant, eventually killing it – it was so effective that it brought the pandemic under control after just one year. The Boonarga Cactoblastis Hall was built, and is the only building in the southern hemisphere to honour an insect.
Chinchilla is an easy 300km (a four hour drive) from Brisbane, straight along the Warrego Highway, and two hours from Toowoomba.
The bus stop is on the Warrego Highway, a short walk across the railway bridge to Heeney St (the main street of Chinchilla).
Greyhound Australia  has 2-3 daily bus services between Brisbane and Mount Isa via Longreach and Charleville, and 3 buses a week between Toowoomba and Rockhampton, along the Dawson Highway.
The Westlander  train comes through Chinchilla twice a week, on its way between Brisbane and Charleville. The train stop is on Chinchilla St, a quick walk across the railway bridge from the main street of Chinchilla.
Chinchilla does have an air strip, and a modern airport terminal, but currently this is only available to flights such as charter planes, crop sprayers, business or private users, and other services such as the Royal Flying Doctor.
There is no public transport in Chinchilla, although there are one or two taxis operating within the town. Most of the attractions in Chinchilla are easily accessible by foot. However, if you want to see the Barakula Forestry, fossick for petrified wood, or visit any of the smaller towns nearby, it is recommended that you bring your own car, or hire one (Budget, Avis and Thrifty all operate in the town).
The Chinchilla Visitor Information Centre can provide you with various maps of the region, town, and surrounding areas.
- Chinchilla Historical Museum, Villiers St, ☎ +61 7 4662-7014. W-Su 9-4. Memorabilia and some well preserved historical buildings, such as the first settler’s cottage and the old jail. There is also a steam sawmill from the 1990s, and an impressive display of vintage machinery, much of it still working. The Fred Newman Petrified Wood Collection is regarded as one of the largest of its kind to be found anywhere. You can also visit the Cypress Pines Interpretive Centre, which displays the history of logging in Chinchilla – once a major industry in the area. Admission fee on arrival. edit
- White Gums Gallery, 89 Heeney St, ☎ +61 7 4668-9908. M-F 10-4 & Sa 9-1. Hosts a new exhibition every month from a wide variety of local, interstate and international artists. edit
- Boonarga Cactoblastis Hall, (10km east of Chinchilla, along the Warrego Highway). ““. Built in 1936 to commemorate this insect’s effort in eradicating the prickly pear pandemic. Listed on the Queensland Heritage Register, this hall is said to be the only building in the southern hemisphere that is dedicated to an insect. The story of the Cactoblastis is told outside the hall on an interpretive sign. edit
- Chinchilla Pioneer Cemetery, Warrego Hwy (Across from the Visitor Information Centre). ““. An interesting cemetery, with graves separated according to religion and headstones dating back to 1892. Next to it there is a park dedicated to Ludwig Leichhardt. edit
- Brigalow Pioneer Cemetery, Brigalow Canaga Creek Rd, Brigalow (Follow the Warrego Hwy east). Take a wander through the history of Brigalow’s earlier settlers in this predominately Lutheran cemetery. Nearby are the remnants of the old school gates. edit
- Kogan Creek Power Station Viewing Area, Banana Bridge Rd (head east along the Warrego Hwy, then 11km South of Brigalow). Opened in late 2007, the coal-fired power station can generate up to 750 megawatts electricity, which is enough to power almost one million homes. Kogan Creek Power Station provides baseload electricity into the national grid via a 28km long transmission line and sets new benchmarks for environmental performance and innovative design amongst coal-fired plants in Australia. edit
- Chinchilla White Gums, Along the Burncluith / Pelican Tourist Drive. ““. The Chinchilla White Gum is a rare species of Eucalypt that grows only in a 60km radius to the north of Chinchilla. This magnificent tree, known botanically as Eucalyptus argophioia, is a photographer’s delight with its distinctive white trunk and open crown of narrow leaves. edit
- Barakula Forest, 23km from Chinchilla. ““. The largest State Forest in the southern hemisphere. If you drive along Auburn Rd, you will pass several historic landmarks, such as Australia’s first oil bore, the Guymer baby bush grave (circa 1920) and the Dingo Barrier Fence (which has sonic deterrent on the grid). edit
Chinchilla is Australia's Melon Capital, and the town is very proud of this fact. The Chinchilla Melon Festival is the only one of its kind and is lots of fun, because it is extremely interactive – you can join in on all their wacky activities, like Melon Skiing, Melon Bungee, Melon Bullseye, Melon Ironman, Melon Chariot Racing, Pip Spitting, Melon Eating races, or even challenge John Allwood for the Guinness World Record of Melon Head Smashing (cracking open the watermelon with the head only – no hands or assistance). Currently his record is 47 melons in a minute.
The first Chinchilla Melon Festival was held in 1994 by local producers and businessmen, in response to the severe drought experienced in the early 1990s. Estimated numbers at the first Festival were approximately 2,500, and it has been estimated that there were 10,000 visitors on the main day of the last Festival (Feb 2009). In 2009, the Melon Festival won the Queensland Regional Achievement and Community Award for Tourism Event.
- Chinchilla Melon Festival. Held every second year, this Festival is a must-go for a completely unique experience! edit
- Tourist Drives, (““). Collect your ‘Tourist Drive’ brochure from the Visitor Information Centre. There are seven drives available with different themes. Interpretive signs highlight historical and cultural features on some of these drives. edit
- Charley’s Creek Riverside Park, The western end of Middle St (““). This pleasant park is located beside the peaceful waters of Charley’s Creek, which was named after an aboriginal tracker and guide who travelled with Leichhardt. The walkways extend under both the railway and highway bridges and there are also a number of interpretive signs pointing out local wildlife. There are picnic tables, barbecues, toilets and a children’s playground which makes it an excellent spot for lunch, relaxation and bird watching. edit
- Chinchilla Weir, Chinchilla-Tara Rd (8km southwest of Chinchilla). Water skiing, fishing, swimming and canoeing (bring your own) are some of the activities to be enjoyed on the water, and there are great facilities for picnics and barbecues. The Chinchilla Weir is also a first-rate place for bird watching, with over 50 species regularly sighted. It’s also a spectacular place to watch a sunset. Check at the Visitor Information Centre before you go, as the water levels do fluctuate. edit
- Fishing, Various locations around Chinchilla (““). Ask for a copy of the Western Downs Fishing Guide at the VIC. edit
- Fossicking for Petrified Wood, Various locations around Chinchilla. ’Chinchilla Red’ petrified wood is famous all over the world for its beauty. Small fees do apply, and you need to get a licence at the Visitor Information Centre. edit
The local speciality is, of course, melons. When they are in season, there are various carts which sell watermelons by the side of any number of roads around Chinchilla. Souvenirs and local arts and handicrafts can be bought at the Visitor Information Centre – from local honey, jams and chutneys to paintings and dolls.
The Visitor Information Centre also hosts markets on the 3rd Sunday of every month.
There are plenty of bakeries and cafes in Chinchilla, most located on Heeney St, although some are in the complex on Middle St. There are also various eateries in some of the fuel stations on the Warrego Highway.
- Café Arabica, Middle St (in the IGA shopping complex), ☎ 4662 8121. edit
- Chinchilla Great Western Motor Inn, Warrego Hwy (”"), ☎ +61 7 4662-8288 (fax: +61 7 4668-9050), . edit
- Chinchilla Palms Motor Inn, 64-70 Warrego Hwy, ☎ +61 7 4672-9888 (fax: +61 7 4662-8128), . edit
- Chinchilla RSL Memorial Club, 61 Heeney St, ☎ +61 7 4662-7196 (fax: "). ”. edit
- MKs, Heeney St, ☎ (fax: "). ”. edit
- Salty’s Seafood, Heeney St, ☎ (fax: "). ”. edit
- Simply Indulgent, Heeney St, ☎ (fax: "). ”. edit
- Chinchilla RSL Memorial Club, 61 Heeney St, ☎ +61 7 4662-7196. edit
- Club hotel and Central Motor Inn, 131 Heeney St (”"), ☎ +61 7 4669-1100. edit
- Commercial Hotel/Motel, 17 Chinchilla St (”"), ☎ +61 7 4662-7524. edit
- Acacia Motel, 96 Glasson St, ☎ +61 7 4662-7379 ([email protected], fax: +61 7 4662-7074), . edit
- Chinchilla Great Western Motor Inn, Warrego Hwy (”"), ☎ +61 7 4662-8288 ([email protected], fax: +61 7 4668-9050), . edit
- Chinchilla Motel, Warrego Hwy (”"), ☎ +61 7 4662-7233 ([email protected], fax: +61 7 4668-9629), . edit
- Chinchilla Palms Motor Inn, 64-70 Warrego Hwy (”"), ☎ +61 7 4672-9888 ([email protected], fax: +61 7 4662-8128), . edit
- Chinchilla White Gums Motor Inn, Cnr Warrego Hwy & King St (”"), ☎ +61 7 4669-1560 ([email protected], fax: +61 7 4669-1215). edit
- Club hotel and Central Motor Inn, 131 Heeney St (”"), ☎ +61 7 4669-1100 ([email protected], fax: +61 7 4668-9155). edit
- Commercial Hotel/Motel, 17 Chinchilla St (”"), ☎ +61 7 4662-7524 (fax: +61 7 4662-7755). edit
- Tattersalls Hotel, 31 Chinchilla St (”"), ☎ +61 7 4662-7154 (fax: +61 7 4662-7154). . edit
- Free caravan/motor home accommodation is available for two nights at Chinchilla Weir. There are both powered and non-powered sites, covered areas, toilets and barbeque facilities available (but no showers).
- Chinchilla Mobile Park & Motel, Park St (Wondai Rd) (”"), ☎ +61 7 4662-7314 ([email protected], fax: +61 7 4662-7248). edit
- Chinchilla Motel, Warrego Hwy (”"), ☎ +61 7 4662-7233 ([email protected], fax: +61 7 4668-9629), . edit
- Cypress Pines Caravan Park, Villiers St (”"), ☎ +61 7 4662-7741 ([email protected]igpond.com, fax: +61 7 4662-7741). edit
- Bimbimbi/Little Hollow, Greenswamp Rd (”15km), ☎ +61 7 4665-8289 / +61 429-014-930 ([email protected], fax: +61 7 4665-8289), . edit
- Internet Café - Wit Zone (Shop 3, 4 Mayne Street, ph: +61 7 4668-9110).
- Free internet may also be available at the Library on Heeney St.
- The Post Office is on Heeney St, cnr Bell St.
There is a coin laundry on the corner of Villiers St and Wambo St, opposite the Cypress Pines Caravan Park.
- BP, Warrego Hwy (entering Chinchilla from Dalby)
- Caltex, Warrego Hwy (exiting Chinchilla towards Miles)
- Chinchilla Roadhouse, Warrego Hwy (opposite the railway bridge)
- Freedom Fuels, Chinchilla-Tara Rd
Caravan / Motor Home Facilities
Park St has a sewage dumping facility.
Potable water is available at the Visitor Information Centre.
Parking for large vehicles is available at the Visitor Information Centre, or for somewhere more central, on the corner of Middle St & Heeney St. You can't park there overnight, though.
Gas is available from the BP fuel station on the Warrego Hwy.
- The Bunya Mountains National Park is a beautiful day trip or next stop, although the winding road up the mountain really isn’t suitable for caravans. Camping and bushwalking are spectacular here.
- Jimbour  is both a small town and an estate, about an hour away. The house is heritage-listed, and was built in 1876. Although it is still a private residence, you are welcome to wander through their beautiful gardens or take their "Living History Walk".