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  >  Destinations   >  Australia   >  Discover Maryborough with Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins is waiting for me outside Maryborough Town Hall holding her magical umbrella and Gladstone bag, ready to take me on a tour to discover Maryborough in Queensland.

“Are you ready to go on an adventure?” she asks, with a mischievous smile.

Just like Mary Poppins, tour guide Carmel Murdoch knows how to weave magical tales that have her audience hanging on every word. She’s been bringing local author PL Travers’ most famous character to life for more than ten years. It seems there’s nothing Carmel doesn’t know about this pretty town located three hours drive north of Brisbane. Dressed in period costume, she takes me for a walk around the historical streets of Maryborough on a 60 minute journey into the past.

Carmel Murdoch as Mary Poppins
Carmel Murdoch as Mary Poppins

Heritage and history is what Maryborough does best, its wide streets filled with restored colonial-era buildings and interesting things to see. Visitors of all ages will enjoy the Military & Colonial Museum which houses over 6,000 pieces of military memorabilia. On select days a pianist entertains visitors with old wartime tunes, making a visit to this unique museum even more memorable. There’s a real sense of community in this thriving country town. People smile as they walk down the street and every Thursday colourful stalls take over the city centre for the bustling Heritage City Markets. You won’t find any of the typical tourist junk here, everything from the crafts to the jams are homemade and all produce comes from the surrounding area.

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If you’re staying in self-contained accommodation like the charming Eco Queenslander, you should definitely make this your first stop to stock up on goodies. This award winning home which accommodates up to 5 people has polished timber floors, French doors, high moulded ceilings, a deep claw-foot bath and more than a touch of je ne sais quoi thanks to charming French owner Cécile.

Staying here costs much the same as a standard hotel but instead of a single room you get an entire house. It doesn’t take long for me to realise that one night in Maryborough is simply not enough. I haven’t ridden on a steam train through Queens Park, explored the Heritage Centre, gone on a cruise, had a picnic beside the Mary River or taken a ghost tour around the old Port.

Mary Anne Steam Engine at Queens Park
Mary Anne Steam Engine at Queens Park

I’d love to stay longer but a pre-booked horse trek at nearby Susan River Homestead awaits. I explore just a small portion of the 1600 acre property on my ride with Angie, a plucky jillaroo who looks like she’s straight from central casting. Our horses travel at a leisurely pace past plump beef cattle and sugar cane waving in the breeze, making their way towards the river where we’ll stop for morning tea. Just like my visit to nearby Maryborough, the two hour ride is over all too soon.

As Mary Poppins says, “Well begun is half done.” I’ll simply have to come back for another visit.

Disclosure: The writer stayed as a guest of Tourism & Events Queensland.

Heading to Queensland? Here are our suggestions for some great Queensland winter getaways, Queensland cellar doors, Gold Coast things to see and do and fun places to ride a Segway in Queensland if you’re after a tour with a difference.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.