In its heyday, the small outback settlement of Dajarra was the biggest cattle trucking centre in the world. Situated on the Diamantina Development Road between Boulia and Mount Isa, this area trucked more cattle than Texas, USA. Drovers would bring cattle from as far away as Western Australia to put them on the train at Dajarra. Back then, Dajarra was the end of the line for Queensland’s northern outback railway system and the closest railhead to the Northern Territory. But those days have gone, and the last train pulled out of Dajarra in 1988. The old railway line and the camps can still be seen, while the ruins of the holding yards give you a good idea of the magnitude of the cattle trucking industry in Dajarra’s heyday.
Dajarra is home to Aboriginal people of many different tribes. The old culture is kept up here and the Aboriginal language is taught at the school by a couple of elders.
A short distance out of town is Rock Quarry, an old Aboriginal stone axe site. For fishing buffs, the Georgina River 90km away is good for catching yellowbelly, or you can fish for perch or yabbies at Carbine Creek. The Wills River is another spot for fishing.
The village has a hotel, church, police station and emergency services. While in town, fuel up with diesel or unleaded at the Dajarra Roadhouse. A range of meals is available at the restaurant, which has a liquor licence from 10.00am to midnight seven days so you can relax over your meal with a drink. Travellers will also appreciate the ATM there plus the convenience store for a basic range of groceries. As well, the roadhouse is the postal agency for Dajarra. Air-conditioned accommodation is available.
Also in town is a modern health clinic building. The Dajarra Health Clinic, serviced through the Mount Isa Health Service District, provides primary health care to residents along with outpatient services. Visiting services include the Royal Flying Doctor Service’s general practice and child health clinics, mobile women’s health, paediatrics, oral health, mental health and aged care assessment.
If you’re a fan of equine sports that take daring and skill, be in town for the rodeo and campdraft, which is always held on the third weekend in September (weather permitting). Preliminaries start on the Thursday and the main action takes place over the weekend. It’s a fantastic country event, where beginners and keen bushmen enter the arena to show their mettle. The event attracts riders from miles around, including Camooweal, Julia Creek and Bedourie. As well as the main arena action, there’s always entertainment for the kids. A bar and canteen operate during the weekend. Funds raised from the weekend go to help local community groups.
From Dajarra, you can head on the sealed road north to Mount Isa (150km). You will see downs country and ranges, with spinifex in abundance. Or go across to Cloncurry on the unsealed Cloncurry-Dajarra Road. Along the way is Duchess, once a railway town and a hub for mining. Nowadays it’s a one-pub town, so drop in to say hi and order a coldie.
Cloncurry/Mary Kathleen Park Museum and Visitor Information Centre
Phone (within Australia) 07 4742 1361