Camping Across The Western Downs: Day 1 – Dalby

For those who live on the east coast of Australia, west usually means heading out into yonder. Attractions are often few and far between, and there’s a lot of ass-numbing driving to get to the different places. West also usually means the outback, but between the iconic coastal fringes and the famous desert plains lie fields and fields of agriculturally altered landscapes and seemingly not much more.

The Western Downs is no different. While much of the land is used for deplorable reasons as well as for yielding crops, there’s also a noticeable lack of nature and nature-based activities to do (except Bunya National Park. See my Bunya Mountains Camping Trip for more a personal trip to Bunya). But there’s got to be something out there that’s worthwhile. Right?

With curiosity getting the better of me, I decided to find out for myself and spent a few days camping across the Western Downs to see whether this subregion of the Darling Downs was really a whole heap of nothing or not. To my delight, I was pleasantly surprised.


Day one of visiting the Western Downs was filled with a few hours of driving the couple hours to Dalby from Brisbane. After a brief visit to the region’s most populous town in the hours before it went dark, I headed down to Lake Broadwater to camp the night away.

Commercial Hotel
Saint Johns Anglican Church, Dalby
Saint Johns Anglican Church

Lake Broadwater


Arriving the 25km to the Westerns Downs only natural lake, it was now well into the night. The Lake Broadwater Campground was slightly further than the Wilga Bush Campground and was just off the main road. It was open, and the bright lights meant I could see that there weren’t many people staying tonight: a tent by a car, and a campervan on the left and a few caravans and camper trailers down the other end.

After dropping dollars in the after-hours box and setting up camp near the car and the campervan by the foreshore, I spent the rest of the night getting ready for bed and smelling the toilet.

Not as in going to the loo and inhaling the smell of people bowel movements, that ain’t my thing, but hey, if it’s yours, there’s no judgement here. But the aroma of decaying human waste was wafting over to all areas of the campground. Understandably, it was unpleasant and gag-inducing, but never-the-less, money had already been exchanged so I endured.

The temperate mid-winter was chilly, but not so much so that I needed to get out the hardcore cold-weather gear.

Animals Encounters

Although it was dark, the night wasn’t full of terrors unless you hate possums. But who hates possums? They’re so cute, sweet and FLUFFY! One walked right by on the wooden barriers separating the car park/campground and the foreshore to the lake before jumping down to climb up a tree. That little guy was in super stealth mode, so it was just a delightful happenchance that I was able to see the fluffball.

Also in the trees were two galahs. Galahs have partners for life, and these fellows looked so sweet and romantic sitting in the tree. Whether or not they were K-I-S-S-I-N-G, I do not know, but the night was far from over. Maybe they were saving that for later.

Galahs At Lake Broadwater
I wasn’t able get a photto of the possum but here’s some galahs


While Lake Broadwater was in the middle of Dark Sky country, the lights illuminating the campground were unfortunately very bright. It was great for safety, so you could go to the toilet without tripping over and landing flat on your face, but in doing so, they drowned out the dim lights of the sparkling universe.

With that cancelling out any stargazing plans, and with a long day of driving tomorrow and a desire to catch the sunrise over the lake I hadn’t had the chance to see yet, I turned in shortly after for my first cold night camping in the Western Downs.

While Day 1 didn’t envolve much exploration of the Western Downs, Day 2 involved numerous birds, a mob of kangaroos and a mechanical yabbie.

Check back for more of the Camping Across The Western Downs trip.

More Western Downs:

The Western Downs is part of the Darling Downs region. Click here to see what the Darling Downs has to offer.

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