A small, but thriving community has progressed from a rural based economy reliant mainly on grain crops to the dynamic locality where coal and gas exploration and power station development projects go hand-in-hand with extensive feedlots, cotton and broad-acre farming. 25% of Australia's watermelon crop is grown here. The town holds a watermelon festival each year.

Location: 294 km west of Brisbane on the Warrego Highway; 83 km west of Dalby; 302 m above sea level.

Events: For a small town, Chinchilla has a large variety of events that happen yearly. The Rotary May Day Festival is held on May Day long weekend, and showcases the town’s rural background, with events such as a tug of war, bag-a-sheep, Minties drop out of a plane, a rodeo, fireworks and Woodchip finals. The Chinchilla Grandfather Clock Campdraft is a major event held every October, where entrants compete for the Grandfather Clock prize. Chinchilla also hosts horse races four times a year.

Chinchilla is known as the 'Melon Capital of Australia', and plays host to a Melon Festival every second year in February (odd numbers. eg. 2013).

The mainstays of Chinchilla's tourism industry are the Historical Museum, fishing and fossicking for petrified wood. 'Chinchilla Red' petrified wood is unique to the area, and known for its colour and quality. The Chinchilla White Gum (Eucalyptus argophloia) is also unique to the area, and can be seen on some of the tourist drives which are marked around the region.

Chinchilli Petrified Wood

Petrified wood is a popular ornamental material used mainly for decorative pieces (bookends, clock faces, ashtrays etc) and for lapidary purposes as polished specimens, slabs, cabochons, tumbled stones and spheres. In the Chinchilla area, petrified wood occurs in abundance and is much sought after by lapidary enthusiasts for its quality and colours.

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Yarnham homestead is a designated collection site. Ph (07) 4662 7311 for directions and more information. Good specimens can also be readily found beside roads in the area, but remember collecting is only permitted from the ground surface in road reserves and digging is not allowed.

Places of Interest: Boonargo Cactoblastis Hall; Wongongera Slab Cottage; Chinchilla Folk Museum (steam sawmill)

Brief history

The area around Chinchilla was a great meeting place for the Barungam Aborigines before moving on to the Bunya Mountains feasts. Explorer Ludwig Leichhardt encountered the Barungam on his first expedition in 1844, and again in 1846 when his party camped at Charley’s Creek (named in honour of Leichhardt's aboriginal guide Charley Fisher). The first white settler, Matthew Goggs, was granted a 14-year lease over Chinchilla Station in 1848.

A succession of good seasons in the 1850s and early 1860s led other landholders to take up properties adjoining the Chinchilla Station. By early 1877, a lawless, shanty town of tents and public houses had sprung up along Charley’s Creek, that was the beginnings of the town.

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