Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Centre of Queensland - Muttaburra

Muttaburra is the closest town to the center of Queensland and the name is derived from the local Aboriginal tribe of Muttaburra,  which means the meeting of the waters - being the rivers Thompson and Landsborough. 
We were following the Heritage Trail,  and our first stop was The Pump Hole, just before Muttaburra. This is a free camp where explorer Landsborough camped. We wouldn't camp here.
A skeleton was found in 1963 in this area and was named Muttaburrasaurus Langdoni after the town and the property owner, Doug Langdon,  where the skeleton was found. Two replicas are found in the town. Barb the dinosaur is on the east side of town and is made of old and no longer needed barbed wire.

There are a few shops open in town, a pub and general store. Most structures have been removed or destroyed,  but heritage boards tell of what was there. Two buildings that remain are the Cassamatis Store and house.  These have been preserved from the 1930’s,  and is now a museum.
There is a lot of public art in and around the town, many made from scrap metal. These two are from outside the school and depicts school life of old. 

This one is across the road and named Shearer - and - Sheep. 

Following the Heritage Trail we went to the pioneer bore, again from the Great Artesian Basin. This is the only water supply for the town. We then headed out to the Union Hole. This is also a free camp, and not a bad one. This is where shearers carted water to their camp sites during the shearers strike of 1891, that eventually led to the formation of the ALP.

We then headed back to one of the Union Camps. It is so good that the people of the area have allowed this to remain,  for over 100 years. I would assume that some parts have been rebuilt or restored. 

On the way back to Muttaburra we came across an obviously new picnic area beside the overflow lake from the artesian bore. There was a shaded table and water available,  and some more art. We had lunch here.

In the centre of town was the second Muttaburrasaurus replica. This one is the life size of the skeleton found near here. The Muttaburrasaurus was a plant eater.

On the way out we saw some more art.

And this sad Singer sewing machine in someone's garden. 

We also drove down to look at another free camp at Broadwater,  which wasn't to bad, but if we were to stay in Muttaburra we would stay at the council caravan park, more basic than Aramac, but for $12 a night power and water, and the deal pay for two get two free, who would pass that up?

Sunday, 29 May 2016

One of the oldest towns in the central west - Aramac

We left Blackall and headed to Barcaldine and then to Aramac. The town was originally named Marathon and was renamed Aramac after the first explorer to the area, Robert Ramsay MacKenzie (R.R. Mac). 
The camp ground is located beside the show grounds and the council advertise pay for two and get two for free, so we found a spot and headed to the council, which is also the info centre and paid our $15 a night for two nights and booked in for four. $30 for four nights WITH power and water, what a bargain. 

We saw some spectacular sunsets ...

... and an interesting moon.

A short walk down the road and we came across this ... it is the wash station for the trucks, I think,  and it has this 'thing' with wild pig skulls all over it. Very strange.

The second day we drove about 70 kms to Muttaburra,  and the next night we went to dinner at the Aramac Hotel. A little expensive, but I had the best chicken kiev I have had in a while.

 Day four was spent exploring the Aramac area. 
The area use to be one of the biggest wool producing areas in Australia. However, it was cattle that made Aramac famous.
In the main street is a statue of a white bull. Cattle rustler Harry Redford stole cattle from a local property, including the white bull and made his way to South Australia to sell the livestock. Someone recognized the white bull and got the police. Harry was arrested and he and the bull were taken to Roma for trial. The jury found Harry not guilty,  and the legend of Captain Starlight was born.

Early in the 1900’s the Queensland Government was running rail tracks across the state. Aramac was not included on the state grid, so residents made the decision to build their own railway to Barcaldine. The railway ran from 1913 to 1975. Today a tramway museum is situated around the old station. It was very interesting. 

We didn't do the Lake Dunn circuit, as there was no water in the lake. However, another camper took part of that route and saw some great 'junk art', which seems to be popular in the area. Guess we will do it next time.

The town is not very big, and many buildings have information boards about the history of the building. This building had no information,  but it appears to be old and some type of ticket office. 

Town trivia - actor John Jarrett grew up in the Aramac area and his father was a church minister.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Beyond the Black Stump - Blackall

After lunch at Tambo we headed to Blackall and a camp we have stayed at before on the banks of the Barcoo River.  Both Peter and I like Blackall,  and if we were to to EVER think about retiring to the country,  it would be Blackall.  We love the history and the friendliness of the people.

We headed straight to the information centre which is located in an old railway carriage in 'Ram Park'. This is where one pays the $8 fee for camping. During the afternoon a volunteer exercises his horse and goes from van to van saying O'Day and having a chat - he was also checking that campers were registered. 

There is so much to see. The main street has history boards telling the story of the buildings and it's people,  there are town murals, and interesting sculptures are dotted all around town. This one is the 'Eagle and the Nest' and is at the end of the camp ground.

The town is famous as the town of World Champion Shearer in 1892, and for the 'Black Stump'. The Black Stump is located at the site used by surveyors in 1888 to establish a principal meridional circuit around the town to work out latitude and longitude. Similar to 'going to the back of Bourke',  if one were going outback one would say 'going beyond the Black Stump. 

Sir Thomas Mitchell explored the area in 1846, and land was opened up for settlers establishing many cattle and sheep properties. The town of Blackall was declared in 1868. It was named after Queensland's second Governor,  Samuel Blackall. 
The first meeting of shearer that led to the formation of the Shearer's Union in December 1886. This group later became the Australian Labour Party. We will visit other sites related to the ALP and shearers in the week to come.
All the water in Blackall is from the Great Artesian Basin and down the road from our van was the original 1885 Pioneer Bore. Blackall was the first town in Queensland to sink an artesian bore.  It was sunk to 800 metres,  and is one of three bores that service the town today. The water is a very hot 58-62 degrees centigrade. 

The bore water overflow runs into the river. The river was originally Victoria River, but was changed to Barcoo, Aboriginal meaning 'ice on water'.

There were about a dozen vans in the camping area when we arrived and about another dozen came while we were there. It is an easy walk to town and the pubs and cafés. We only stayed one night, but will plan to stay longer next time. The town seemed to have more shops open this time,  which is good for the town. We spent the afternoon relaxing by the river.

Bit of trivia - Pauline Hanson was married here in Blackall.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Oldest town in the central west ... Tambo

We left Charleville and headed up the Matilda Highway towards Blackwell. Our first stop was Augathela to see the wire sculptures.

We passed this van on the way.

Also some lovely cloud and sky patterns.

We had lunch in Tambo at the free camp at Stubby Bend. A good place to camp for an overnight.  As we only stopped for lunch I didn't get to experience much of the history. Tambo is famous for its Teddies and a drive down the street shows that the history is well documented. In 1862 Tambo was a stopping place for settlers and travellers. The first pub was also built in 1862. The dingo fence runs through the Tambo area and can be seen from the highway just north of the town. Definitely on our overnight stay list for next time.

Charleville Queensland

We left Cunnamulla to drive to Charleville and on the way we stopped at Wyandra. It is halfway between the two towns.  We looked at the caravan park and the free camping behind the school. $20 a night for a powered site is pretty good, and it is right in the centre of the town, so convenient for me to walk to the pub for dinner. We like to spend money in the towns we visit, as so many towns are struggling. We didn't stay this time, but will plan another trip and stay in the van park to do washing and have pub dinner, and then move up to the free camp for some happy hours around the campfire. 

Just before Charleville we came to the site of the Angellala Bridge Explosion. 30 kilometres south of Charleville, a truck carrying 53 tones of ammonium nitrate caught fire and exploded on 6th September 2014.

Once in Charleville we headed for the information centre which is housed in the Cosmos Centre.  We signed up for Outback Mates Card, not because there were a lot of good deals, they are not but the concept is new so will hopefully get better. We wanted one deal in particular. Last time here we stayed at The Bailey Bar and liked it, so wanted to stay two nights there again. Outback Mates had a Bailey Bar deal pay for 3 get one free, so we stayed for four nights. The park was full due to the Charleville Show and the Variety Big Bash leaving from Charleville in a few days, however the manager found a spot, which was ok.

Charleville is the largest town in south-west Queensland and dates back to 1847. It was surveyed in 1867 and is situated on the banks of the Warrego River. It once had Cobb and Co's largest and longest running coach making factory. 

There are so many things to see and do in Charleville.
*The Cosmos Centre operates many different tours, and is the info centre. Tours range from self guided to organised, both day and night. The only tour we didn't do last time was the night observatory viewing, so we did it this time. It was very good, our only criticism is that there were too many people, so time on the telescopes was very short.
*The Vortex Guns, famous for trying to make rain in 1902 during a drought. The idea was to fire gunpowder into the clouds to produce rain. - free
*The Bureau of Meteorology for a tour and to see the weather balloon released - free and we'll worth a visit.
*Historic House Museum
*Royal Flying Doctors hanger - free
* Hotel Corones was built on the Hotel Norman (1895) and added to in four stages to become the grand hotel it is today. The grand ballroom is now a bottle shop, but one can still see the dream that Harry Corones had. There is a tour $25, that is worth the money to hear the stories behind the making of this hotel. The hotel hosted many important people including Amy Johnson. One can have a drink at the longest bar in the Southern Hemisphere,  and look at the memorabilia in the grand foyer. 

Around the airport are many remains from WWII when the US had a base camp there. In 1942 Charleville was inundated with American Service men when the airport became one of the most top secret airbase in Australia. 101 buildings were constructed and the remains of many can still be seen. There is a convey tag along tour from the info centre for $15, but we did a self guided one as the areas are well sign posted and information boards explain the history. 

We walked around the main area of town, and like Cunnamulla many shops are closed or empty. Even the fabric shop 'Sew Me' had downsized greatly from our last trip. 'Heinemanns Bakery and Cafe' next door was doing a good steady business every time we were there, and so was the chemist around the corner.
The building below shows both the fabric shop and the bakery. Notice the V painted on the bricks near the air-conditioned, this was painted to signify victory in the Pacific.

We did a drive a little further out from Charleville to look at the bush camping. 
Seems ok, but we like Bailey Bar and it is not to expensive and the staff are great, so are the camp dinners. 
There is nothing left that we want to do in Charleville,  but it is a good base to stock up before heading further outback.

Sunday, 22 May 2016


We drove over the border and saw the same dusty landscape, only with the appearance of more cactus. We passed a few small towns, that if one blinked one would have missed, and headed to Cunnamulla.  We were going to have a look around and decide whether to stay or keep going to Charleville.
The road, The Matilda Highway,  to Cunnamulla was mostly straight,  but so much road kill - kangaroos, emus, wild pigs, we even saw a dead sheep, a fox, and a goat.
Cunnamulla is on the Warrego River and the name is derived from the Aboriginal word meaning 'long stretch of water'. The township was developed at the crossroads of two major stock routes about  1858, and the area is predominantly sheep country. Today it also has vineyards and honey bees.

Our first stop was the information centre.  I checked out what to see in the area, while Peter walked over to the pub to find out about free camping at the back. 
The info centre is located in a small section of an old high school building. The rest of the building is a museum. We are 'museumed' out, so gave it a miss. Along side the info centre is the Cunnamulla Fellow Centre. A bronze statue of the Cunnamulla Fellow,  based on the Henry Lawson poem of the same name, is located in front.

After a short drive around the town, we decided to stay one night behind the Cunnamulla Hotel. There were six other vans there when we arrived, so parked along the back fence.

We had dinner and drinks at the pub, and the food was pretty good (considering it was all frozen food from boxes), so we decided to stay a second night and drive a bit further afield. Also I wanted to try the pizza. We ate with another couple in the dining room who were from the next suburb from our home, and talking with other campers two others were from around our suburb. The owners of the pub were lovely, very friendly and helpful.  The pub itself has real character. Sadly, like many of the businesses,  it is not doing well. There were a few locals in on Friday night, but Thursday it was all campers.

We walked around the town and along a section of the levy bank, and there were so many empty shops or closed shops. The town has 4 running pubs, and some of the closed buildings looked like they may have been pubs previously. 
We drove to the weir and through part of the bushland - very dry country. 

We thought Cunnamulla was an interesting town to visit and would stay again on the way to somewhere else.