There were a number of great little towns on this leg of my trip.
Alpha Situated about half way between Emerald and Barcaldine is this small town. There are a heap of murals around the town, I think nearly 30 in total. A lot of towns are now cashing in on the “craze”, either on the side of buildings or on silos. It certainly adds a bit of beauty and color to what could otherwise be a bland canvas.
Jericho This town had a great donation camp on he edge of the town beside the local river, The Jordan River. It was an idyllic place to spend a night. Only one other vehicle here. In the main street is The Crystal Trumpeters. Capitalizing on its biblical namesake, it tells the story of the original Jericho (Old Testament Joshua 6).
Blackall I enjoyed a wander through the Ram Park Museum and also the Jacky Howe Museum. Jacky Howe was a gun shearer in his day and once sheared 321 sheep in a day (7 hours 40 minutes). Using hand blades his record stands to this day. A number of shops had numerous photos in their windows capturing life in the area. It was a great visual display and something that could be well duplicated in small towns where there are empty shops. There is nothing more depressing than walking a main street where there are spasmodic trading shops and the rest are ugly empty shops. By adding color it makes it look like there are more shops and it enticing people to get out of their cars and actually walk around. Foot traffic means more sales for the business’s. I also took a tour through the old Wool Scour. It was one of 52 operating at the peak of the wool industry. It closed in 1979 and has been restored and is the only remaining fully functioning scour left today in the country. I got the personal treatment as I was the only person on the 12 o’clock tour. Also in town is “The Black Stump”. There are several towns that lay claim to having the original black stump, but Blackall (apparently) is the real McCoy.
Tambo is the oldest town in the west so plenty of history here. A number of buildings have been restored. It is quite a pretty town. Tambo Teddies are made here and the town now boasts itself as the Outback Teddy capital of Australia. You can buy a readily made Teddy or have one individually made to your own specifications. I did neither. Tambo is also famous for its Chicken Races at the Royal Carrangarra Hotel. The proceeds of which go to charity. Unfortunately I was a little late in the season and no more races until next year. I was looking forward to experiencing this but will have to wait until next time. They had a good campsite at Stubby Bend beside the river and at the southern end of town beside the dam is a good place to stop.
Augathella Not a great deal in this small town but it did have a great donation camp right in the main street of town. There is the Kenniff Tree. What town doesn’t like to claim a bushranger as their own? Well this town has two! The Kenniff brothers , notorious bushrangers, tethered their horses to this tree in between their many horse and cattle stealing escapedes in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The “Smiley” stories were written about a boy growing up here. Chipps Raferty was a young shearer on a nearby Sheep Station before he became a movie icon.
Morven is only a one horse town but it did have a nice little museum run by volunteers. I arrived in town just on 10am when it opened and it was worth stopping. Just a gold coin donation.
Mitchell was a good sized town and I stayed at the caravan park over the bridge from town. It was State of Origin night so I wandered up to one of the town’s hotels for a feed and to watch the game. The Variety Bash was in town so the pub was busy. 100 cars were participating with some 300 people in cars and in support crews. Had some good conversation with some of them. They were headed the same way as me the next morning so with inside information I left earlier than normal the next day.
St George is a large service centre town on the banks of the Balonne River. There is a picturesque walk along the river. Some classic old buildings and The Unique Egg, housing a display of hand carved emu eggs, is worth a look at. Further south is the famous Nindigully Pub. I had planned on camping here but as the Variety Bah was descending on the campground there that evening I thought better of it and went on to Thallon. I did however stop for a beer, as you do, and got talking to an interesting character from Thargomindah. I overheard a lady taking to another couple and she said she came from Perth. As I was leaving the pub I stopped to say hello to the lady and asked what part of Perth she was from. She said she was actually from Bunbury (but most people say “where’s that?” so Perth is easier). I told her I was from Collie (60km away) and she asked if I knew Brian and Jenny. Brian and Jenny just happen to be the people I took over the Australia Post contract from when I worked in Collie. Small world indeed! The pub had a lot of memorabilia and I am sure the old buildings in the beer garden and the walls of the Hotel itself could tell a story or three.
Thallon is a tiny town with a pub slash post office slash general store and a primary school and not much else. The pub offered camping and had good meals and cold beer. The town also has an impressive painted silo.
Mungindi straddles the Queensland and New South Wales border on the Barwon River and is the only such town in Australia. Other border towns have two distinct names but this one only the one. Officially in New South Wales part of the town sits across the river in Queensland. There are two pubs in town and during daylight saving it is possible to enjoy 2 “happy hours” in the one night.
It was sort of with mixed feelings that I crossed the border. Having spent well over 12 months in Queensland it was sort of sad to leave but of course that is balanced with the excitement of travelling to new places and as I spent a number of years working in NSW I am looking forward to catching up with a number of friends as I work my way through Australia’s most populous state.