The Bulloo Shire, totalling 73,600sqkm, is a fascinating place to visit. Here, you can experience nature on a large scale, immerse yourself in history or discover the riches of the region. The Bulloo is the third largest shire in Queensland and is known as the Shire of Natural Resources, showcasing everything from large cattle and sheep stations to major oil and gas fields at Jackson, Ballera and Naccowlah, and opal fields at Black Gate. The Bulloo, Paroo and Wilson Rivers and Cooper Creek traverse the shire. Wildlife and migratory bird species abound.
Thargomindah lies 1000km west of Brisbane and is the administrative centre for the Bulloo. Affectionately called ‘Thargo’ by locals, Thargomindah is an Aboriginal word that translates as either ‘cloud of dust’, or ‘porcupine’ (echidna), depending on the Aboriginal dialect. If you want to explore the spectacular south-west Corner Country on day tours, the town is an ideal base. However, before you set off, drop in to the Visitor Information Centre at Echidna Place in the main street to learn about the town’s attractions, history and stories. The centre is open from 9.00am to 4.00pm daily during the peak tourist season, and from 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday during the off-peak season. Information is available via two touch screen computers, and as an added bonus, the library is in the same complex.
Thargomindah itself might be small, but this little outback town can boast that it was the first town in Australia - and the third in the world after Paris and London - to produce hydro-electric power for street lighting, through the harnessing of bore water from the Great Artesian Basin. The original bore still exists but is now capped. Next to the bore is a replica of the original power-plant shed, which was built to house a working Pelton wheel and generator. The complex is open daily during the peak tourist season, with demonstrations held every afternoon. Visitors also have the opportunity to pair a demonstration at the plant with a guided tour through the old Thargomindah Hospital, which houses a medical display, Royal Flying Doctor Service memorabilia and other artefacts. Museum tours are held between 3.00 and 4.00pm, after which people can make their way to the power plant for a hydro power plant demonstration at 4.30pm (it’s about a kilometre away and there’s time to walk). The hydro site is the end destination for the Nature Walk, which follows a delightful and leisurely trail from Dowling Street.
While you have your walking shoes on, you might like to try the Bulloo River Walk, which is the perfect way to see the many river red gums growing on the riverbanks, along with a variety of other native trees and shrubs. Birdlife is plentiful, and you may spot the odd pelican, Mallee ring-neck parrot or Bourke’s parrot among the trees. The walk commences at the Explorers’ Caravan Park. A new concrete path leads to Pelican Point and the track is dirt from there.
The Heritage Walk around town will take you past historic Leahy House (once owned by Sir Sidney Kidman), the mud brick post office and old hospital. The original hospital is a monument to the life and times of the first settlers in outback Queensland. Built prior to 1888, it served the community’s medical needs until 1976, when the current Outpatients Centre was built in Dowling Street. You can also explore the old and new cemeteries, examine historic sites, fish or catch yabbies, or simply commune with nature.
Thargomindah has several pieces of spectacular artwork - one large piece of outdoor artwork is ‘Drawing Water’ by Frederick White, which comprises a field of 52 galvanised poles, representing each week of the year, and the 4700 bores that provide water throughout inland Australia. Art and history combine in two bronze bust sculptures created by national artist William Eicholtz of Melbourne. The busts depict Vincent Dowling and John Leahy, two pioneers who were pivotal in the settlement of Thargomindah. The sculptures stand at the corner of Dowling and Gilmour Streets outside the Council Administration Office. Vincent James Dowling was a remarkable bushman who pioneered and settled Thargomindah Station. He was an explorer as well as a pastoralist and found the source of the Paroo and Bulloo Rivers, mapped much of the land and recorded flora and fauna. John Leahy was responsible for much of the development of Thargomindah. Leahy was a politician and businessman who rose to the position of Speaker of the House in Queensland Parliament in 1907. Leahy House, one of the few remaining mud brick buildings in Thargomindah, is named after him.
Thargomindah has a hardware/Foodworks general store, coffee shop, post office and gift shop, Toyota dealership, mechanical service (RACQ agency), QGAP office, outpatients centre, police station, community centre, library, swimming pool, golf course, airport, primary school, secondary learning facility, and sports oval. Accommodation is offered at a caravan park, motel and hotel-motel. The motel and hotel-motel offer meals. Fuel is available Monday to Friday 7.00am to 5.00pm, Saturday 8.00am to 11.00am and Sunday 9.00am to 10.00am. So make your plans to get your fuel within those hours, although weekend hours may be extended in the busy season.
Flying in? The aerodrome is 1km from town (Noccundra-Jackson Road), and has Avgas, Jet A fuel and a 1460m sealed runway with Pilot Activated Lighting (PAL).
Come and join the action at some great outback events. The Thargomindah Polocrosse Carnival is scheduled for July, and the Nockatunga-Toompine Polocrosse Carnival will be in July at Toompine. The Thargomindah Motorbike Gymkhana and Enduro Ride and Bull Ride in September is usually the scene of dust, mud and unbelievable action! There’s also a horse and motorbike gymkhana at Hungerford in October and the Noccundra Gymkhana Campdraft and Rodeo will be held that month as well, so it’s a great time for enthusiasts to visit.
If you’re going to be in the far south-west on December 31, the place to be is at Cameron Corner where you can celebrate three times, as each State’s time clock reaches midnight. New Year’s Day starts with a tri-State golf game, where you play nine holes - three in each State!
The Dowling Track, which runs from Bourke to Quilpie, offers a real outback adventure and journey of discovery, even if you only drive part of the way. Along the route visit Hungerford with its Wild Dog Barrier Fence and Border Gate; have a drink at the Royal Mail Hotel, originally a Cobb and Co staging post and stop at Currawinya National Park where you can explore waterbird habitats, the Woolshed, the Granites and old Caiwarro Homestead.
When you’re heading out to the Dig Tree along the Adventure Way make sure you call into the historic Noccundra Hotel for a friendly welcome and a cold drink. The hotel is built of quarried sandstone and is the only surviving building of the historic township of Noccundra. It is located opposite the Noccundra Waterhole on Nockatunga Station.
The iconic Burke and Wills Dig Tree, which features on many people’s Bucket List, is just off the Adventure Way on the northern banks of Cooper Creek at Nappa Merrie Station. The Dig Tree and Fort Wills site is now on the National Heritage and is a must-visit location for visitors to the outback.
Cameron Corner, marked by a survey post, lies on the intersection of the Queensland/New South Wales/South Australian borders and is one of the most visited destinations in outback Queensland. The Corner Store there offers cold drinks, food, accommodation and fuel.
Thargomindah Visitor Information CentrePhone (within Australia) 07 4655 3399