There’s no denying it: Roma is hot in summer. If you find yourself in this Outback Queensland region in the warmer months, you’ll quickly be on the hunt for creative ways to keep cool as the mercury soars.
From exploring local art galleries and sinking pints in pubs, to diving into refreshing swimming holes and mineral springs, here are nine ways to escape the outback heat in the Roma region.
1. Beat the heat at the Cobb & Co Changing Station
Swap the great outdoors for the educational indoors at this dynamic social history museum in Surat, a one-hour drive south of Roma.
The Cobb & Co Changing Station’s special memorabilia and displays bring local history alive, including a 14-seat replica of a Cobb & Co Coach.
Uncover the pioneering spirit of life on the land, back when wagons like these moved passengers, mail and other goods during the early days of settlement.
While you’re here, pop next door to the Surat Library and Balonne Art Gallery and say hello to the local fish bobbing around inside the big 25,000L freshwater aquarium.
Looking for more adventures from yesteryear? Turn the pages of Roma’s history with these historical experiences.
2. Spend an afternoon exploring Roma’s art scene
Escape peak afternoon heat by popping into one of Roma region’s local art galleries for igloo-inspired viewing conditions.
There are four to choose from across the region, so whether you find yourself in Roma, Injune, Surat or Mitchell, dial up the culture and down the thermostat at one of these air-conditioned galleries.
At Roma’s Community Arts Centre, the Roma on Bungil Art Gallery hosts annual touring exhibitions alongside work from local artists, some of whom you’ll see at work in the adjoining studios.
The old picture theatre is now the Mitchell on Maranoa Gallery, where you’ll find a movie project room, outdoor artist’s workshop and sculpture garden too.
The Injune Creek Gallery can be found in the centre of town and hosts exhibitions featuring art by local residents and visitors.
And finally, the Surat on Balonne Gallery is found at the Cobb & Co Changing Station complex, so you can double-up with your history fix found at this former transport hub.
3. Tour Roma in air-conditioned comfort
Don’t let the heat dull your enthusiasm for exploring, instead join the local guides at Boobook Eco Tours to gain an insight into the real Roma.
On their half-day Explore Roma Town tour, you’ll be whisked around town in air-conditioned comfort, hear the untold stories of Roma’s heroes and colourful characters, and learn about how the town transformed into what you see today.
From Roma’s abandoned winery to the biggest bottle tree to visiting the famous Roma Cattle Saleyards, uncover the local side to Roma that you can’t experience while touring solo.
4. Embark on a Tourist Drive
Hit the road along one of Roma Region’s eight magical Tourist Drives with the windows up and the air-con blasting as high as your music.
Whether you have an all-terrain 4WD or city-slicking sedan, there’s a route for you to explore.
Nature-loving 4WD enthusiasts can hit the Grass Tree Drive, an off-road half-day journey taking in native flora and fauna, including prehistoric grass trees.
Or for those more comfortable staying in two-wheel drive, starting 40km from Roma, the Yuleba to Wallumbilla ‘Country Cattle Loop’ takes you off the highway and onto sealed roads less travelled, letting you get to know the region better without any of the bumps to get there.
5. Cool off at the Denise Spencer Memorial Pool
On hot days, nothing beats cooling off in the water so pack your swimmers and do as the locals do.
The Denise Spencer Memorial Pool in Roma is the perfect spot to cut laps and cool down on a warm summer’s day.
This 50-metre public pool has eight lanes and is completely covered, giving you respite from the hot sun and protection from harsh UV rays.
6. Treat yourself at the Great Artesian Spa
If the time in the driver’s seat has your muscles aching, grab your swimmers and prepare for a therapeutic day in Mitchell, a one-hour drive west of Roma.
Locals love to head to the Great Artesian Spa to soak in the rejuvenating mineral water drawn from the Great Artesian Basin.
The two large pools are filled with natural artesian spring water at different temperatures, making this spa destination perfect all year round.
The warmer pool is a favourite for easing tension, relaxing tired muscles and soaking away stress, while the cooler one is perfect for hot days.
Between dips relax on the deck with a barista-made coffee and homemade scones or lunch at the onsite cafe.
7. Head to the pub for cold beer
There’s nothing quite like an ice-cold beer on a hot summer’s day; and as you’d expect from the region where the country meets the outback, the pub life out west is best.
In Roma, swing through the glass doors of The Queens Arms for a schooner, book a table at the intimate French-inspired Bistro75 inside the Commonwealth Hotel, enjoy a cocktail at the more modern Royal on Ninety-Nine, head to the Club Hotel Roma for country hospitality or order a pizza at the White Bull Tavern.
One hour north, the Injune Hotel is a welcoming post filled with old pictures, memorabilia and handwritten messages from visitors passing through. If you’re lucky you might even meet the resident Macaw.
In Mitchell, an hour west of Roma, Hotel Richards rocks a very Queensland white-and-maroon exterior and a grill inside that sears an excellent steak with meat from local Lawson’s Butcher.
For classic pub fare, drop into the Federal Hotel in Wallumbilla, the New Royal Hotel in Surat, or the Yuleba Hotel in, you guessed it, Yuleba.
8. Swim at Carnarvon Gorge’s Rock Pool
Can you hear that? It’s the cool waters of Carnarvon Gorge calling anyone chasing a refreshing swim surrounded by nature.
Popular with bushwalkers for a post-hike swim, the park’s only dedicated swimming hole is just a few hundred metres from the car park.
The short track will take you from your car to the Rock Pool, a large swimming hole carved from the bed of Carnarvon Creek.
Wear shoes or sandals that make it easy to navigate the rocky creek as you’ll need to cross twice to reach the deepest waterhole.
After your swim, set up a picnic beneath the shade of fig and casuarina trees and make the most of the free barbecues nearby.
If it’s quiet and still, approach the waterhole slowly and you might spot a shy platypus or turtle in the creek.
To help you navigate your Carnarvon adventure, read up on this handy guide.
9. Experience the Big Rig
Beat the heat by venturing out after the sun goes down for the Big Rig Night Show Sunset Experience.
Kicking off just before sundown, this one-hour original sound and light show tells the story of sabotage, drama and intrigue through the eyes of a “Roma Rigger”.
Sit back with a glass of outback port as you discover Roma’s claim to fame; the first place in Australia to discover natural gas.
Be sure to plan and book ahead as tours run weeknights April to October, and three days a week November to March.
Want to know more about Roma’s Big Rig?