Charleville QLD

Between Cunnamulla and Charleville we came across the Angellala Bridge and the site of one of Australia’s worst transport accidents.

Charleville claims a population of just 3,300 yet it seems so much bigger than that. A very welcoming town and immaculately clean and tidy. At the railway station we found the Visitors Centre. There is heaps to see and do in this friendly town. You could quite easily spend a week or more here if you attended all the attractions and tours on offer. From the Cosmos Centre, WW11 Secret Base, Cemetery Walk, Historic House Museum, Hotel Crones Tour, Warrego River Walk, Outback Date Farm Tour and Checkout Charleville Town Tour to name the major ones on offer.

We chose to book the Check Out Charleville Town Tour which was running the following morning. For $15 each it was a great tour. We were driven all over town and given a running commentary on interesting facts and quirky stories through the history of the town. We found out about the different major floods that impacted Charleville and what they did each time to mitigate the effect. It concluded with a half hour drive around the CBD with a commentary on each of the significant buildings in town. We felt this was an exceptional value for money tour and we learnt so much.

We visited the Historic House Museum and found it very good as well. The building was originally built as a National Bank and it still has the strong room (vault) intact. The Hotel Crones has an interesting history. We didn’t do the tour but did have lunch there in the courtyard and there is plenty of photos on the walls inside the foyer.

Haralambos (Harry) Corones (1883-1972), hotelier and businessman, was born on 17 September 1883 at Kithira, Greece, son of Panayiotis Coroneos, fisherman, and his wife Stamatea, née Freeleagus. From 1904 to 1906 Harry completed national service as a first-aid orderly. Having unsuccessfully applied to enter the United States of America, he emigrated to Australia, disembarking in Sydney on 10 August 1907. Six weeks later he went to Brisbane where he worked in the Freeleagues brothers’ oyster-saloon in George Street. About 1909 he moved to Charleville and took over a café. In 1911 he opened the Paris Café on the corner of Wills and Galatea streets; from its rear premises he operated a silent-picture cinema and staged vaudeville shows with performers brought from Brisbane and Sydney.

In 1912 Corones acquired the lease of the Charleville Hotel. Reputedly, Paddy Cryan—a commercial traveller for the Castlemaine Perkins Brewery—had visited the Paris Café for a meal and was so impressed with Harry’s conviviality that he suggested he move into the hotel business. Harry told him that he didn’t know anything about hotels and didn’t have any money. Cryan persuaded him that he could learn the trade, and the brewery would help to finance the deal. Corones was naturalized in June 1912. At Holy Trinity Church, Surry Hills, Sydney, on 29 April 1914 he married with Greek Orthodox rites Eftehia. Fire had destroyed the Charleville Hotel in 1913, but it was rebuilt and Corones ran it until the lease expired in 1924.

An enthusiastic supporter of air transport as the means to end the isolation of Queensland’s west, in 1922 Corones bought 100 original shares in Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd. He catered for the airline, supplying picnic hampers and sit-down meals for transit passengers in a converted hangar at Charleville airport. He has also been credited with suggesting the names for the airline’s first five aircraft—Hermes, Atlanta, Apollo, Diana and Hippomenes—drawing on the classical mythology of his native Greece.

In July 1924 Corones leased another hotel (the Norman) at Charleville. After purchasing the freehold, he demolished the building to begin construction of the Corones Hotel: built in stages, it was completed in 1929 at a cost of £50,000. By then, Charleville was the centre for a booming wool industry. The hotel, with its jazz hall, embossed plaster ceilings and en-suite bathrooms, was an oasis for graziers, wool-buyers and commercial travellers. Charleville became a scheduled stopping-off point for the fledgling aviation industry, bringing a host of visiting celebrities who passed through the hotel. They included the Duke of Gloucester, Gracie Fields and Peter Dawson, and the aviators Amy Johnson, Elly Beinhorn and Sir Charles Kingsford Smith.

At Quilpie, Corones ran three additional hotels under the management of his nephews. He had purchased the Quilpie Hotel in 1921 and four years later built the Imperial Hotel. In 1934 he leased the Club Hotel from the Castlemaine Perkins Brewery. His other business interests included a 17,000-acre (6880 ha) station, Whynot, near Thargomindah, and a half-share in an importing firm that operated from Sydney until the Depression.

To commemorate his membership (1916-69) of the Charleville Hospital Board and his sometime chairmanship of its works committee, the nurses’ quarters were named the Harry Corones Block. He was a member of the original committee (1919) of the ambulance centre and was involved in its affairs until 1958. In addition, he served on the local fire-brigade board for over twenty years. Corones was a foundation member and major developer of the golf and bowling clubs, and a foundation patron and life member (1966) of the All Whites Football Club. His ‘perennial youthful exuberance and impishness’ made him the focus of many stories. He was a Freemason. In 1965 he was appointed M.B.E.

Survived by his wife, two daughters and by two of his three sons, Corones died on 22 March 1972 at Charleville and was buried with Anglican rites in the local cemetery

While checking out Charleville we camped at Rock Pool which is only about 15 minutes drive out of town. A large free camp next to a water hole. We stopped a couple of nights here and had a fire each night.

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