Dongara is famous for many things, two of which are the historic stone and brick Royal Steam Roller Flour Mill and the good old Moreton Bay Fig tree after which the main street is named. Dongara’s main street is lined by these dramatic trees which were planted in 1906 and are now classified by the National Trust.
Just three kilometres away overlooking the Marina is the twin town of Port Denison. Originally built on a strong rural economy, Dongara and Port Denison now have a thriving Rock Lobster fishing and processing industry. Both towns are often referred to as the ‘Rock Lobster Capital’, for the many magnificent crustaceans caught in season.
The two towns have many attractions for visitors, young and old. With sandy beaches for swimming and lazing, close reefs for snorkelling and exploring and ideal fishing spots that provide many hours of enjoyment for everyone.
Things To Do
At certain times of the year when there are large seaweed banks it is best to fish off these into water clear of the weed. During the warmer months Cobbler are quite common close to shore.
A great variety of fish can be caught, these include: Tailor, Mulloway – Silver Kingfish (best times to fish dawn and dusk), Whiting, Herring, Skipjack, Trevally, Samson-Fish, Dhufish (May-August), sometime caught off-shore. Also a variety of Sharks – mostly Whaler Family, Hammerhead and harmless Shovel –Nose variety, Wobbegongs are quite common in reef areas.
Dongara is the ideal base from which to tour the magnificent wildflower country in the surrounding area throughout spring. From July through to October the region comes alive in a visual extravaganza, although numerous species are present all year round.
Explore South Beach. This wide, white sand beach stretches to the horizon or, if you don’t fancy walking, cruise along beautiful South Beach in your car – no need for a 4WD. But, if you do have a 4WD, there are plenty of tracks to go exploring. South Beach is also home to our local Surf Club with regular patrols conducted on weekends.
Back Beach (also called Town Beach & Seaspray Beach) offers excellent off beach fishing spot. Swimming is not advisable as there is often a rapid fall away and rip at this site and due respect should be given.
Harbour Beach – Until 1979 when the Marina was completed, this was the beach of Dongara/Denison. It is still a popular swimming area for families and small children. For safety reasons the swimming area is limited from the north side of the jetty to a point about 125 metres further north. Signs mark the area. Shelters, change rooms, toilets, picnic and barbecue facilities are available.
Surf Beach – From the parking lot, this wide white sand beach stretches to the horizon of the south. For the adventurous, it affords an invigorating, picturesque three kilometre round walk. The beach is ideal for safe swimming with a wide shallow water shelf. A final word –‘Jelly Fish’- we all get stung sometimes. Don’t rub wet sand on the sting, use lemon or orange juice.
Irwin River Nature Trail
For a truly leisurely walk, the Irwin River Nature Trail is just perfect. Spot all the interesting river wildlife, including black swans and pelicans, just to name a few. Access off Church Street, where the Lookout affords beautiful views of the rivermouth and ocean. A plaque depicting local shipwrecks is on display at the Obelisk. A boardwalk now surrounds the Obelisk to allow easy viewing.
No matter what your sporting interest you’ll find it in Dongara Denison. At the Recreation Centre there are facilities for Tennis, Badminton, Squash, Basketball, Football etc. The Centre is located just off Point Leander Drive between Dongara and Port Denison. For the young at heart, there’s a skateboarding park at Surf Beach! Hard-to-beat skateboarding with the Indian Ocean as your backdrop
Dongara Golf Club boasts an 18 Hole Scenic Course and the Port Denison Bowling Club features top class greens and has a licensed clubhouse. All Welcome. Boat Launching
Pleasure boats up to 20ft can be launched from the boat ramp in the harbour area, with safety. All boating enthusiasts who are not familiar with the reef formations both within the harbour and beyond it are encouraged to speak with the Sea Rescue Group. Base is located opposite the boat ramp. Phone No: (08) 9927 1770
Fishing, Scuba Diving & Snorkelling
Line fishing is permitted from all the breakwaters and the jetty, scuba and snorkel diving is permitted close to the breakwater but not out into the marina itself (this is for safety reasons). The many reef formations both north and south of the marina are also excellent diving spots.
Live Lobster Facility
At a cost of $2.4 million this facility is considered the best in the southern hemisphere and is situated on the Marina. With a holding capacity of 35,000 kilos of live lobster, this is sure to make the most avid lover of crayfish drool with anticipation! Open 7 days per week in season from 15th November through to 30th June.
Royal Steam Roller Flour Mill – constructed in 1894, the mills sturdy steam engines ground wheat from surrounding farms until 1935. The building is currently undergoing restoration.
Dongara Heritage Trail – The Dongara Heritage Trail is a 1.6km walk featuring Dongara’s historic Building. It begins at the Royal Steam Roller Flour Mill on Waldeck Street and will take you about one hour to complete. There are opportunities for picnicking at Dongara Show Grounds and in Jaycees Park at the Corner of Moreton Terrace and Waldeck Street. Copies of the heritage Trail can be obtained from the Tourist Centre.
Russ Cottage – Restored and furnished as a typical yeoman’s cottage of the last century, the kitchen floor (made from hard packed material from scores of anthills) is an interesting feature. The museum is open to the public on Sundays from 10am to 12 noon and by appointment through contacting the society
Moreton Bay Fig Trees – These beautiful trees that line the main street of Dongara were planted in 1906 by the Road Board. They cost a total of 16 shillings and four pence.
Fisherman’s Memorial & Lookout – Constructed in 1869 as a guide to shipping, the memorial was dedicated in 1979. There is a panoramic view of Port Denison and the fishing boat harbour, one of the largest in the state, which offers fishers plenty of sport with an abundance of tailor, snapper, whiting, dhufish and rock lobster in season.
Cemetery – Dongara Cemetery contains some interesting headstones dating back to 1874. It also contains a Wall of Remembrance dedicated to the Dominican Nuns of the region.
Anglican Rectory & Church (c. 1882) – Built from solid blocks of limestone hewn from local quarries. The original pews (still in use) were fashioned from ballast collected from the adjacent beach.
The Old Police Station – A visit to the Old Police Station, which is now the Irwin District Museum, is a must. Here you can learn all about the original pioneers, their unbelievable hardships and triumphs. The building is also steeped in history, built in 1870, it served as a police station, courthouse and gaol.