South Burnett Tourism > Towns > Wondai
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Wondai: The Heart Of The South Burnett
Where is Wondai?
Wondai is located on the Bunya Highway approximately 230 kilometres north-west of Brisbane.

It can be reached by following:
  • the D'Aguilar Highway from Caboolture
  • the Brisbane Valley Highway through Esk
  • the New England Highway via Yarraman
  • the Bunya Highway via Dalby and Kingaroy or
  • the Burnett Highway via Gympie

Wondai also has an aerodrome a few kilometres from the centre of town and is regularly served by major bus lines.


How big is Wondai?
Wondai Shire has a population of 4,000 and Wondai township has around 2,000 residents.

Wondai is a small, charming town with lush green parklands separating the CBD from the main highway. It has a supermarket, several historic hotels, a hotel-motel, motel, caravan park and bed and breakfast all located within easy walking distance of the heart of town. It also has three restaurants, a cafe, post office, chemist, newsagency and petrol outlet as well as several antique stores and a public swimming pool, golf club, bowling club and RSL.

Tingoora - located about 10km east of Wondai near its border with adjoining Kingaroy Shire - has a well-known historic hotel and a population of around 200 residents; while Hivesville (located about 20km east on the road to Proston and Lake Boondooma) has a hotel, a convenience store, a garage/petrol outlet and around 150 residents.


What is Wondai like?
Wondai is located in cattle and grain-growing country and most of the area around the township is composed of grasslands interspersed with eucalypt forests.

It has a typical South Burnett low-humidity climate of warm summers and cool winters and a very relaxed, friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Extensive refurbishment of the CBD area during the 1990s has also made it one of the cleanest and most immediately pretty towns in the region, with well-tended parklands and picnic areas.

The heart of Wondai is dominated by the South Burnett Region Timber Industry Museum (which is also the home of the Wondai Visitor Information Centre) and the Wondai Shire Regional Art Gallery, both located on the main highway. Both have become major tourist attractions and routinely draw thousands of visitors every month. The Wondai Heritage Museum - another big drawcard - is located immediately behind the Wondai Shire Library a short distance away.

Wondai was founded on the dairying and timber industries but in recent years has seen increasing streams of tourists visit the town on their way to Lake Boondooma or to follow the South Burnett Wine and Food Trail (Wondai has its own cellar door and regional cuisine restaurants). The town is also handily situated almost midway between the two major hubs of the South Burnett wine industry - at Kingaroy to the east and Murgon, Redgate and Moffatdale to the west - making it an ideal base of operations for many visitors who want to undertake a comprehensive tour of both.

Like all South Burnett townships, Wondai has a vigorous sporting, cultural and social life. The Wondai Regional Art Gallery puts on well-attended opening nights at 6:00pm on the first Friday of each month; the town's antique stores are popular destinations for collectors; nearby gemfields are a magnetic attraction for fossickers; and the golf club, bowling club and RSL are all very well patronised. In addition, the Wondai Race Track hosts a number of well-attended meetings each year.

Major annual events include the two-day Wondai Garden Festival (held each April); the Wondai Show (held late each August or early each September); the week-long Wondai Arts Festival (held each October); and the Christmas Eve Carnival (held each December)


When was Wondai established?
Wondai Shire was first settled by Europeans in 1844 when pastoralist Richard Jones established a sheep grazing station at Mondure.

At that time there were only two other stations in the region: Taromeo Station near present-day Blackbutt; and Henry Stuart Russell's selection at Burrandowan on the outskirts of present-day Kingaroy Shire.

By 1885 it became apparent that the area was unsuitable for sheep and the management of Mondure was taken over by Joseph Bushnell, who successfully introduced cattle instead. This led to the establishment of several other stations at Boondooma, Proston, Wigton and Barambah and by the 1890s several small townships had sprung up in the area to service the growing population.

The arrival of the railway in 1903 led to the founding of Wondai - a Wakka Wakka aboriginal word for dingo, celebrated by the town's famous dingo sculpture fountain - and the first buildings appeared soon after the railway line was opened. Wondai was originally called Bushnell (after Joseph Bushnell, above) but was almost immediately renamed Wondai following local agitation.

The centre of the town was obliterated in 1912 when a disastrous fire raged through the area, but was reconstructed soon afterwards. Beef and timber milling operations - still a major part of the local economy today - helped ensure a successful and prosperous future. Wondai celebrated its Centenary in 2003. Wondai State School will celebrate its own Centenary in 2005.


Useful Wondai information links

South Burnett Region Timber Industry Museum

Above: The South Burnett Timber Industry Museum at Wondai is also the home of the Wondai Visitor Information Centre. The Museum has fascinating dioramas and displays.

Gem fossicking near Wondai

Above: Gem fossicking is a popular pursuit for many visitors. Several public gemfields are located in Wondai Shire (photo courtesy of Clive Lowe)

Wondai Shire Regional Art Gallery

Above: The Wondai Shire Regional Art Gallery opens new exhibitions at 6:00pm on the first Friday of every month. The Gallery itself is open 7 days a week.

Discover the Magic of the South Burnett

Wine and Food, Great Lakes, Bunya Mounains... Discover The Wonderful Towns Of The South Burnett
You can also find out more about the South Burnett through South Burnett Online and South Burnett Cuisine
Get more information from any of our South Burnett Visitor Information Centres:

NANANGO (07) 4189-9446  ·  KINGAROY (07) 4189-9172  ·  WONDAI (07) 4189-9251  ·  MURGON (07) 4189-9387

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