Camping Across The Western Downs: Day 2 – Lake Broadwater, Moonie & Tara

Continuing the camping trip across the Western Downs, Day 2 was spent mostly still the region’s only natural lake, Lake Broadwater, before heading westward to Moonie.


Lake Broadwater


Rising shortly before the sun was due to cross the horizon, I woke to an overcast sky. Soft, rippled, textured clouds filled the atmosphere, leaving few breaks, creating a gloomy mood.

Soon, the light to mid greys of the clouds erupted into the spectacular, vibrant colours of yellow, orange and red. The suns light had found a gap to permeate through and reflected brilliant warm hues that ignited the sky as if Robin Williams was saying, “Good Morning, Vietnam” in visual form.

Sunrise Over Lake Broadwater, Dalby
Sunrise over the lake

After the stunning tones of the sunrise had dissipated and the day carried on as if nothing ever happened, I sat there making breakfast before sitting down and enjoying the gentle waves lapping at the shoreline. It wasn’t long until some birds started making an appearance. Cockatoos, galahs, magpie and some other birds I’m unsure the species of flew around, came close then went away.

By now, other campers were starting to rise and were getting ready to start their day, as I soaked in the serenity on this lazy morning. It was a lovely way to start the day, but soon after, the winds were starting to come in quite intensely and were making being exposed a bit unpleasant.

A Rare Bird Find

After packing up and having a friendly chat with the caretaker who came over, I headed down to the other side of the lake where the caravanners were.

Not far off in the distance, numerous pelicans had gathered along with some egrets. Whipping out the binoculars and stealth walking towards them like a tiptoeing ninja, I spied with my little eye that a couple of the white-bodied egrets were actually royal spoonbills.

Delighted as this was the first time I had seen them in the wild, I observed their curious fishing methods where they put the tip of their spoon-shaped bills in the water and move it in zig-zag motions across the water, searching for morsels of food to chomp down on.

Pelicans At Lake Broadwater
Pelicans at Lake Broadwater
Spoonbills At Lake Broadwater
Spoonbills too

Encountering A Furry Mob

After sensing that someone was watching them, the birds flew away. Heading across to the bird hide on the other side of the lake, I came across a bunch of kangaroos chowing down on grass town.

While a few popped their heads up from crunching on the local plants to see what the fuss was about, others stayed in their positions, laying on the grass unfazed and undeterred.

The most noticeable thing about this large mob that doesn’t look like go around offing people who piss them off is that they were scratching a lot. These poor, little fluffballs had fleas or something causing them to contort in all sorts of ways to satiate the itch.

Thinking that they wouldn’t take too kindly to me attempting to help them scratch their backs and would chase me like their massive, muscular red cousins in the outback, I left them to their unending itching session and continued to the bird hide.

Kangaroos By Lake Broadwater
Some big roos
Kangaroos By Lake Broadwater
And some smaller roos

Hiding Out To See Some Birds

The hide was only a short distance from the small, dirt car park. Along the way, a cockatoo was sitting high in the tree by the park. From inside the bird hide, the lake looked much different how it did by the camping area. The landscape consisted of grasses, with thin sections of the naturally occurring lake in the mid-ground while trees crowded around the shoreline.

With the eyeballs, a few birds were flying around as well as some in the water that was presumably ducks. With the binoculars, I spied some pelicans and ducks on the water along with cockatoos and kookaburras in some trees. While nothing came close, it was still a lovely and relaxing way to spend half an hour.

Lake Broadwater Bird Hide
The bird hide
Lake Broadwaater From The Bird Hide
View from the Bird Hide
Cockatoo By Lake Broadwater
Lake Broadwaater From The Bird Hide
Another a view from the Bird Hide

Between Lake Broadwater & Dalby

After spending way too much at Lake Broadwater, I bid a find farewell to the naturally occurring lake and started the long drive to Moonie. The thought of long straight, monotonous roads don’t sound very appealing, but the road was surprising, not flat, farmlands as far as the eyeballs could see. There were trees, and they weren’t just lining the fence line or small patches of them or one every now and again. They were everywhere! Dense forests worth of trees!

While a block of nothing but forest doesn’t sound very exciting, observing the changes of the trees and foliage made an ass numbing, unbroken drive through the south part of the Western Downs a more pleasant one than open grasslands and farmlands. It was great knowing there were still some trees out here that hadn’t all been cut down and the classic scene of an endless road going off into the distance were nice too.

Road To Moonie
Western Downs, Queensland, Australia


After a straight drive that took longer than it felt like it should have, I arrived in Moonie not long before sunset. After taking obligatory photos of the welcome sign with the chuckle-worthy name, it dawned on me that despite Moonie being a well-known place, it was less of a town and more of a crossroads between Miles and Goondiwindi.

Aside from a petrol station with an eatery, a U-fill, a school, an information centre and a community centre, little else was there.

The vibes emanating from there were not the most friendly or welcoming. Murder trucks were everywhere while answering nature’s call felt like I needed to know kung fu.

You go through a gate that seemed like it was on the grounds of a school, which seemed weird. The toilet block had no lights. As it was pretty late and the sun was about to set behind heavy clouds, the skylight wasn’t cutting it. It was super, super dark in there. Of what little could be seen, it was a mess and the door wouldn’t lock. It felt like a movie moment was about to happen, like someone was going to kick through the door, scaring the crap out of me mid-session and blindly fight me to the death in the stall. Luckily, the only people who came in were non-murderous ladies who just needed to unload, but it was not the kind of cinematic experience I like.

Because Moonie didn’t have the hallmarks of a safe place, I didn’t linger. I took some pictures with the Big Yabbie and had a look at the oil drilling equipment this area is known for, then hauled ass out of Texas.

Next stop, Tara.

Big Yabbie, Moonie
Big Yabbie
Oil Memorial Walk
Oil Memorial Walk


After spending way too much time at Lake Broadwater and getting from there to Moonie was longer than anticipated, I was nowhere near where I wanted to be for the night. EEK.

Instead, I opted for a long drive in the dark to head to Tara, where they had a free place for caravanners and motorhome travellers to spend the night by the lagoon.

Tara Sign

Day 3 was a lazy day around Lake Broadwater and driving around a lot. Day 4 of the Camping Across The Western Downs trip would be focused on Tara in the morning before heading out the Meandarra in the afternoon and landing at Caliguels Lagoon for a night under the stars.

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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