Sitting peacefully on the banks of the Macintyre River at the junction of five major highways, Goondiwindi is a well-established border town. It is the perfect place for travellers to rest awhile and spend some time. With all you could want by way of amenities, an interesting history to explore, great food and warm country hospitality it will be time well spent. The great Macintyre River marks the Queensland/New South Wales border and creates a scenic backdrop for this friendly and prosperous country town.
You will find it is a vibrant, contemporary place with excellent facilities and amenities and its river frontage provides a unique and tranquil setting for one of Queensland’s fastest growing rural communities. Photographers often turn their lenses to the heritage buildings and country landscapes. In late spring you will see a breath-taking display as Jacaranda trees lining the streets burst into full purple bloom.
Home to around 6,000 locals and servicing approximately 15,000, its neat tree-lined streets, well maintained public buildings, sporting facilities and relaxed town centre are a good measure of the community spirit and civic pride you will find here. That, naturally, extends to welcoming travellers to join in the activities, events and festivals and the local way of life.
You will find a range of accommodation here and once you are settled there is shopping, dining, and so much more to do around town and beyond. Marshall and Herbert Streets offer a terrific range of shopping experiences. You will find everything from gifts and home wares to quality clothing stores. Marshall Street is also eat street with many chic cafés where you can indulge in a good coffee, country-style cakes and baked goods as well as tasty light meals. The locals love to eat well and you will too!
On a self-guided walk around town, you will find the recently refurbished iconic Victoria Hotel, built in the era of Queen Victoria and then added to in the 1920s. The Vic features some of the most outstanding architecture in Goondiwindi. Situated in the heart of the main street, you can’t miss this old dame – a sturdy building of brick and timber, with a criss-cross of dark panelling and white lattice on its facades, stained glass windows and doorways, crowned by an ornamental (and slight off-kilter) tower. An eye-catching building indeed: a picturesque mix of Victoriana and Jazz Age, with a dash of Early Colonial.
Be sure to drop by the Gunsynd Statue located near the original Border Bridge. It commemorates the famous ‘Goondiwindi Grey’ – a racehorse who was bought for a measly $1,300 by 4 partners (The Goondiwindi Syndicate) with the aim of winning a local bush race. The Grey went on to win 29 races including the Cox Plate and the four big mile races: The Doncaster, The Epsom, The George Adams and The Toorak in one season. Needless to say, he won the hearts of punters in the late 60s and early 70s. At the new Civic Centre in Marshall Street, the Gunsynd Memorabilia Tribute displays photographs and information about this champion horse. You will find the Visitor Information Centre in the same building.
You will get a good feel for the local history with a visit to the Customs House Museum. A border customs point before federation , this authentically restored building and its magnificent cottage garden house a rich and colourful collection of mementos from yesteryear. Also in the grounds is Martha’s Cottage, built in 1875.
Primary production and agribusiness are a vital part of the local economy. You can gain an appreciation for living on the land by joining Goondiwindi Cotton Tours three-hour guided bus tour of Goondiwindi town, a cotton gin, a working cotton farm and discover the Goondiwindi Cotton fashion house.
Connect with the Bigambul people - the traditional owners of the local area on a 3.5 hour guided tour of the Goondiwindi Town Common or Toobeah Reserve. Walk with local guides on an interactive Bush Tucker and Medicine Plant Tour to find and taste bush foods and learn about traditional remedies, hear stories that have been passed down for generations and enjoy billy tea and damper.
Connecting with nature is a precious part of life here. Bird watchers will find an amazing array of birdlife in the local area – pick up the special Birdwatchers brochure from the Visitor Information Centre.
There are many parks and gardens where you can relax and breathe the fresh country air. Pack a picnic and take your time enjoying the Botanic gardens of the Western Woodlands.
Early birds can catch the Macintyre at her best on an early morning walk or at the other end of the day, it is magic on a sunset stroll. Enjoy waterskiing and other water sports at the Natural Heritage and Water Park.
The social calendar is quite a busy one with many other not-to-be-missed events which include:
Hell of the West Triathlon
In February there is the not for the feint-hearted, self-explanatory Hell of the West Triathlon.
Easter on the Macintyre
Easter on the Macintyre is becoming a popular weekend of events for visitors to experience real Goondiwindi hospitality.
Gundy 400 Off Road Race
August hosts the muddy action of the Gundy 400 Off Road Races.
Horse Sporting Events
In August you can also explore an extensive range of horse sporting competitions, including Polo, Polocrosse, Horse Racing, Show Jumping and Pony Clubs.
Throughout the year, Goondiwindi hosts several Race meetings, which are a chance to mix it with the locals.
Gourmet in Gundy
If you are visiting in September, make sure to time your stay to coincide with the cultural celebration that is Gourmet In Gundy. The annual festival features the best of local food, wine, art and music. The weekend is full of sporting and cultural events and is a true community get-together and a highlight of the cultural calendar.
Plucked Duck Bachelors and Spinsters Ball
Also in September is a highlight of a different kind – a country kind no less – the Plucked Duck Bachelors and Spinsters Ball is a shindig you will only find in the country.
Current dates for all events listed at www.grc.qld.gov.au/events-calendar.
The name Goondiwindi comes from the aboriginal word “Goonawinna” which means “The Resting Place of the Birds”. It would appear that this name was first given by the Aborigines to a spot near the present site of the Goondiwindi Hospital.
The explorer, Alan Cunningham, discovered the Macintyre River during an expedition in 1827. He named the river after Captain Peter Macintyre of Blairmore and Pitmacree on the Hunter River. The Macintyre family had provided Cunningham with horses and drays for the 1827 expedition.
Years before Goondiwindi existed, three grazing properties joined at a spot near where the Town now stands. They were Callandoon, Umbercollie and Old Goondiwindi, all settled between 1838 and 1846. Food and mail for these remote unfenced runs came by bullock team from Maitland in New South Wales. Rather than return without a load, the teamsters would turn their bullocks out to graze and would take any jobs offering on the stations, until enough wool had been shorn in the district to provide them with back loading to Maitland. The owners of the three properties allowed the teamsters to camp on the river, where the runs met. Gradually the tents and make shift huts gave way to small cottages until by 1862, several people had settled permanently at the camping site.
By the 1870s, the tiny settlement had acquired a store, courthouse, blacksmith shop, Chinese market garden, boarding house and even a private school. For many years after the establishment of the town, there was no bridge over the river and goods or people coming from New South Wales were pulled over in a punt. A wooden bridge at Goondiwindi was constructed between the period 1875 and 1878. This bridge was replaced with the present structure in 1914.
Goondiwindi was first proclaimed a Municipality on the 20th October, 1888.
- Explore a working Cotton Farm and be treated to a country morning tea with the Goondiwindi Cotton Tour.
- Meet a local larrikin and learn about Gunsynd (the famous ‘Goondiwindi Grey’) during the Victoria Hotel Beer and Bullshit Tour.
- Connect with nature and the world’s oldest culture on a Bigambul Aboriginal Bush Tucker and Medicine Plant Tour.
- Visit the charming Customs House and Museum.
- Stretch your legs on the River Walk beside the picturesque Macintyre River.
- Picnic in Botanic Gardens
- Enjoy many activities including Water Skiing at the Natural Heritage and Water Park.
- Compete in the Hell of the West Triathlon.
- The original 1914 Historic Border Bridge connecting NSW and Qld.
- Have your photo taken with the famous ‘Goondiwindi Grey’ Statue.
- The restored Art Deco Cinema /Theatre.
- Sunset over the Macintyre River.
- Jacarandas in full bloom in late spring.