Wondai is a small rural town around 170 km northwest of Brisbane. Originally settled by Europeans in the 1840s, it still has some heritage buildings remaining from its early homestead days. The current town began to grow in 1903, originally around a temporary halt in the railway.
Today, Wondai is the centre for the surrounding agricultural area, and in recent years it has begun to grow rapidly. Wondai is becoming popular as a retirement destination, as well as an affordable place to live within an easy commute of Murgon and Kingaroy.
- Population – 2,127
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander percentage of population – 7.6%
- Closest major town – Toowoomba (182 km)
- Distance from airport – 29.33 km to Kingaroy Airport; 171.05 km to Brisbane International Airport
- Cinemas – 0
- Restaurants – 2
- Pubs/bars – 1
- Primary schools – 1
- Secondary schools – 0
- Tertiary education providers – 0
- Max average temp – 30.8°C
- Min average temp – 3.5°C
Wondai is about 25 km north of Kingaroy, at the edge of a fertile agricultural area that extends south to Toowoomba. The Bunya Highway runs just north of town. It is 257 km from Brisbane, in the Callide district of South East Queensland.
Wondai’s climate is warm temperate, with hot, rainy summers and cool dry winters. Winter temperatures can fall below freezing but hard frosts are rare.
The population of Wondai is just over 2,000 people. With a median age of 45, Wondai’s residents are significantly older on average than the figures for Queensland (36) or Australia (37). They are also more likely to be married or widowed. The town has an average number of children but relatively fewer adults of working age. Currently, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 7.6% of the population.
The traditional owners of the Wondai area are the Wakka Wakka people; the town takes its name from their word for the dingoes that used to roam the vicinity. Today the Indigenous residents come from many different peoples because of earlier forced relocations to the nearby settlement of Cherbourg.
The average resident spent 10.23 years in education.
Wondai has one hospital, Wondai Hospital, as well as the local Wondai Family Medical Practice. Although it does not have its own Ambulance Service, air ambulance needs are coordinated through Wondai Hospital. Forest View Residential Care Unit provides aged care service for the town.
Wondai’s health profile is disadvantaged. Low median income and a high population of those aged 65 and over contribute to the disease burden. Smoking, obesity and other unhealthy lifestyle factors are also prevalent.
Wondai is in the Darling Downs & West Moreton PHN and is rated RA3.
Schooling opportunities in Wondai are limited; there’s just a state primary school in the town itself. Most secondary students attend Murgon State High School or one of the schools in Kingaroy. The nearest tertiary education is at the TAFE in Cherbourg, which is the only TAFE on Aboriginal land and runs several courses for Indigenous people.
Career options for partners
58.0% of people in Wondai work full-time with an unemployment rate of 6.0%, the Queensland statistics being 60.0% and 6.1% respectively. The largest employers are education, health care and agriculture. Professional-level positions are slightly limited, but many residents commute to Kingaroy.
31.6% of residents are employed part-time, mainly in retail.
25.1% or residents have volunteered for an organisation or group. Volunteer auxiliaries play a significant role in running Wondai Hospital. The St. Vincent de Paul Society operates in town.
Arts and Culture
Although it’s a small town, Wondai has a variety of cultural activities on offer. The Regional Art Gallery is one of the best in southwest Queensland, with new exhibitions every month and a range of classes and workshops. There are some dance classes, and the Timber Museum celebrates the town’s history as a lumber centre.
- Wondai Belly Dancing Classes
- Ballroom Dancing
- Wondai Regional Art Gallery, which offers workshops and classes
Wondai is ideally located for anyone who enjoys outdoor activities. There are several state parks and forests within an easy drive of the town, so there’s no shortage of places to walk, camp and enjoy the scenery. Boondooma Dam is a popular destination for fishing and boating, while Ficks Crossing is just 3 km away and offers swimming, kayaking and camping facilities.
South Burnett has many bushwalking opportunities including the Bunya Mountains, the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail and the Kingaroy to Kilkivan Rail Trail.
There’s no shortage of cycle routes in and around Wondai. As well as plenty of local circuits through the often very scenic farmland, the Kingaroy to Kilkivan Rail Trail passes right through town. Initially 60 km long, this will eventually be extended to a 350 km route.
- Ficks Crossing camping and recreational area.
- Barakula State Forest
- Benarkin State Forest
- Bunya Mountains National Park
- Crow’s Nest National Park
- Dingo Creek Park
- Boondooma Dam
Wondai has a busy sporting scene, with a strong focus on outdoor activities. Water sports are popular, and the rifle club has one of the finest ranges outside of a major city anywhere in Australia.
- Rugby pitch
- Soccer pitch
- Cricket field
- Tennis Courts
- Netball courts
- Squash courts
- Bowling greens
- 25m pool with baby pool
- Rifle range
- Equestrian showground and racetrack
Food and Drink
As you’d expect in a town this size, Wondai’s dining options are slightly limited. There is a very good diner, though, plus a cottage restaurant that does great seafood days. Two cafes will keep you supplied with quality coffee.
Until quite recently, Wondai had an aging housing stock, but the rate of new builds has picked up dramatically in the past few years. Almost all homes are separate houses. Wondai is a low-density community and quite affordable, so it’s a good place to bring up a young family. The median price for a three-bedroom house is $180,000, and the median rent for a three-bedroom house is $223 per week.
There is currently no rail or bus service to Wondai.
Wondai is situated on State Route 49, which gives access to Brisbane via the D’Aguilar Highway.
- Wondai Country Markets (produce, crafts, bric-a-brac) – 4th Saturday of each month.
- One event that’s definitely worth a visit is the Wondai Show, which has been running since 1911. Held every August, it features live music as well as horsemanship and traditional rural activities.