By Matthew Pearce
The small town of Biloela is punching above its weight, ranking third in ’23 of the Most Surprising Destinations to Visit in 2023′ by the Qantas Travel Insider magazine.
The top two destinations were Bhutan in South Asia and Alaska in the USA, with the magazine highlighting some of the best places to visit around the globe.
“In outback Queensland, 120 kilometres west of Gladstone, stands Biloela, a rural town with country charm that is home to a few pubs, two terrific bakeries and Flourish, a multicultural festival that celebrates diversity through art in June,” the publication states.
“Nearby Lake Callide has kayak and cabin hire available and exhilarating fishing, where the prize could easily be a metre-long barramundi. For freshwater fishing and water skiing, head to Dawson River.”
Banana Shire Mayor Nev Ferrier said when he was interviewed by Qantas magazine for an article showcasing Biloela’s friendly community, he hadn’t expected this to be the result.
In a boost for local tourism, the magazine will feature on every domestic and international flight for the month of January.
“I was really surprised, but very glad of course,” he said.
“I think Biloela is just a friendly town overall, we have so many different nationalities here and that probably makes us different from a lot of regional towns.
“Following the Second World War, a lot of immigrants started their new lives in Biloela. In addition, the Teys meatworks has been here in town for decades and more than 20 different nationalities work there.”
Biloela’s Flourish Festival, spotlighting cultural diversity through the arts, gained national exposure in 2022 when it coincided with the return of the Nadesalingam family, asylum seekers Nades and Priya and their daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa, after their release from community detention in Perth.
Cr Ferrier said Priya and Nades and their family had enjoyed living the quiet life in Biloela since their return mid-year.
“The girls are at school and the media have left them alone – now they can settle down and just be a normal, average family.”
Cr Ferrier said “the idea that two little girls who were born in Australia could be deported” had really tugged at people’s heartstrings.
Integreat Queensland general manager Julie Pettett said the Flourish Festival, organised by Integreat, was all about showcasing pride in CQ’s multicultural community – “who we are, where we’ve come from, and what we now share together.”
The festival is held in Biloela and Gladstone, with plans for an Emerald event in 2023.
“Biloela may be a small town but it has the biggest heart in the country. The community has welcomed people from all over the world where it has become a hub of multicultural diversity,” Ms Pettett said.
“Biloela deserves to be recognised by the Qantas Magazine Travel Insider as it’s a fantastic community with beautiful scenery, great attractions, and some cultural diverse events like the Flourish Festival.”
While the Callide Dam is a favourite spot in Biloela, especially for barra fishing, Cr Ferrier has a favourite local attraction that’s located on dry land.
“I love old machinery, so when the Old Wheels In Motion club has their events, that’s when I’m happy,” he said.
“All the old machinery comes in from everywhere… it’s just terrific for all the old farmer fellas.”
The annual Old Wheels In Motion Rally is organised and run by the Callide Dawson Machinery Preservation Club Inc, with funds raised invested back into the restoration and preservation of vintage machinery and collectables.
TOP 10 PLACES TO GO IN BILOELA
Lake Callide Dam
Lake Callide is only a few kilometres from Bilo. Great for catching Barra a metre long, you can hire kayaks and other water sports equipment and have cabin and camping accommodation – great place to watch the sunset.
Banana Shire Regional Art Gallery
The gallery is located in Biloela and displays a wide variety of works by CQ Artists and beyond. The current Exhibition is ‘Ruby Campbell Daughter of Callide Valley’, Ruby grew up in Biloela.
Bilo Water Tank
Located next to the hospital on State Farm Road, the water tank displays great artwork telling the story of life in Biloela from the beginnings through to modern day life.
Located just outside of town, with a huge director’s chair dedicated to Billie Brown. William Gerald Brown AM – Australian stage, film and TV actor and acclaimed playwright who grew up in Bilo.
When it comes to spectacular freshwater fishing, Banana Shire stands as one of the best regions in Queensland. The Dawson river offers a smorgasbord of well stocked fat, tasty fish. Offering free camping, great for water skiing and freshwater fishing.
The newly renovated Biloela Hotel offering indoor and outdoor dining with a great new beer garden.
Great spot for a big steak after a long drive, includes a bar area and a special place for the kids to play while you relax.
Queensland Heritage Park is a step back into Australia’s history with a great display of vintage machinery and memorabilia. It also has a gift shop, coffee shop, function area and provides a rest area for caravaners and campers at a great price.
This newly renovated park, with a great little playground for the kids is located in town walkable distance to cafés and shops.
Located in the heart of town, Rita’s café offers a warm, friendly local feel with scrumptious food with a Vietnamese twist.
– Courtesy of Banana Shire Council