Once, The Globe was one of an inordinate number of pubs in town. Now, the old lady of Barcaldine’s main street has been granted an exciting new lease of life with a $3 million makeover and a new commission – that of the town’s visitor information centre and cultural precinct.
The Globe dates back to 1910 and until its closure in 2011 was known as ‘the workers’ pub’. With a great deal of work and contemporary architectural flair, it has been brought from its gently decaying state to landmark status. Re-stumped, re-roofed and re-verandahed, it’s now the perfect setting for tourism and the arts. Visitors will enjoy browsing around History on Oak, which showcases the history of The Globe and Barcaldine itself. The ongoing project will also house the Galilee Gallery, an exhibition space for displays, art functions and events.
Tree of Knowledge
First stop after the Visitor Information Centre will be the Tree of Knowledge site. It’s not often you see a memorial to a tree, but Barcaldine’s Tree of Knowledge was no ordinary tree. It became part of the history of the town from the very beginning of settlement. A gigantic cube made from recycled timber and placed on the site of the tree, recreates the size of the canopy of the tree when it was in its prime during the 1891 Great Shearers’ Strike, the event which led to the birth of the Australian Labor Party.
The tree itself has undergone a preservation process and forms part of the memorial. The award winning structure gives the illusion of a canopy over the tree. The structure is impressive during the day but when viewed at night is truly magnificent. Barcaldine also has a festival in the tree’s honour.
Tree of Knowledge Festival
The Barcaldine Tree of Knowledge Festival will be in full swing over the Labour Day long weekend this year – and you’re all invited. The event will run from Friday the 1st to Monday 4th of May. The Festival showcases the community spirit and all that is great about Barcaldine and the outback.
Enjoy a night out on Oak Street on Friday night with entertainment and food stalls. Saturday will be jam-packed with markets, the Tree of Knowledge Cup Race Meeting and evening entertainment including goat races. Celebrations continue on Sunday with Barcy RevFest, miniature train rides, a church service and rugby league matches. The festival concludes with the May Day march and celebrations on Monday with entertainment for the whole family. Definitely a great weekend to be in Barcaldine.
The main street showcases the history, arts and culture of the community. While you’re in the main street of town, snap a photo of the windmill there. An icon of the bush, it stands as a reminder of the importance of windmills to a land that is often parched and relies on artesian water. This windmill is a 1917 C pattern model manufactured by Sidney Williams and was originally erected at Back Creek on the site of the first flowing bore in Queensland.
If you’re musically inclined, have some fun playing the large ‘thong-a-phone’, piano and marinba in the main street. Constructed for public enjoyment, visitors are encouraged to try their hand. If you time your visit just right you might get to enjoy one of the Saturday fortnightly markets at the Village Green during the winter months.
Australian Workers Heritage Centre
The Centre’s multi- purpose entrance building located on Oak Street (Barcaldine’s main street) features beautifully landscaped surrounds and houses the museum’s entrance and access to the 6 acre site and exhibitions and displays. The entrance building is also home to a unique retail destination stocking a wide range of products, with something for everyone. As well as an onsite cafe and outdoor undercover eating space where you can enjoy a barista coffee, meal or light refreshment in a pleasant and comfortable air-conditioned setting; all designed to further complement and enhance the visitor experience at the Workers Heritage Centre.
Many heritage sites or museums tell the story of a well known person, a building or an event in our history. But the Australian Workers Heritage Centre in Barcaldine is very different. It captures the spirit of working Australians, telling their stories and celebrating their contributions to the nation we know today.
Every Australian is a worker and workers build nations. Opened in 1991 by then Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, the museum style exhibits tell the stories of everyday working Australians in a wide variety of fields. And there couldn’t be a more fitting place to honour the efforts of Australian workers than Barcaldine.
The industrial battle between shearers and pastoralists during The Great Shearers’ Strike of 1891 was to profoundly affect Australia’s industrial, social and political future. Shearers set up ‘base camps’ on the northern outskirts of Barcaldine and held their strike meetings in the shade of perhaps Australia’s most well-known ghost gum – ‘The Tree of Knowledge’. Fortunately the strike didn’t lead to civil war as widely feared. Instead, the striking shearers used the ballot box to make their voices heard.
Barcaldine Historical Museum
More history can be found at the Barcaldine Historical Museum, which operated as a bank for nearly 70 years before being relocated to the corner of Beech and Gidyea Streets and given a new job as the keeper of the town’s history.
The museum is open seven days from 7.00am (closed Good Friday and Christmas Day). Family days are held on the last Sunday of each month from March to November and feature a mini-steam train in operation.
Follow Barcaldine’s award-winning heritage trail. Pick up the booklet, Between the Bougainvilleas, and you’ll be set to go. The old Radio Theatre was built in 1926 during the era of silent movies. After a long period of closure, it reopened in 1995. Enjoy the comfort of old style canvas seats as you watch a movie. Screening times can be found in the theatre foyer.
The Railway Goods Shed was once the staging post for meetings during the Great Shearers’ Strike but has since been moved to the Barcaldine Showgrounds. The Masonic Lodge is a great photo opportunity. Built in 1901, the lodge is one of the most unusual buildings in Barcaldine. The iron and timber facade is painted with three shades of paint to appear like stonework. Still used as a Masonic Temple for monthly meetings, a tour of the building with a local mason can be arranged at the Visitor Information Centre.
Next on the trail is the old National Bank, built in 1906 and now the town’s museum. St Peter’s Anglican Church is topped with a Gothic-style spire. Finish your tour with a visit to Barcaldine’s historic hotels.
When you’re ready to go a little further afield, travel the 15km from town to the Lloyd Jones Weir where you can have a picnic, drop in a line or do some bird watching.
Birdwatchers will also be keen to visit Lagoon Creek, on the outskirts of town, to walk among native vegetation along 2km of walking paths. More than 200 varieties of birds have been identified in the area.
You may time your visit just right to enjoy one of the monthly markets at the Barcaldine Bakery.
Ridgee Didge Cafe
The name says it all! This café truly is ‘ridgee didge’. From its very own blend of coffee to its good honest food, freshly cooked and prepared in house. And the prices at The Ridgee Didge Café are very reasonable too.
The menu selection is broad and guaranteed to please all tastes. Enjoy the all day
breakfast, roast of the day or beef lasagne with salad. There are hot and cold lighter options too, including the Barcy BLT, as well as sandwiches, wraps and salad bowls.
If you’ve popped in to enjoy the unique Coolamon Coffee, select from a range of delicious cakes and desserts to complement your cuppa. There is also a selection of unique Keep Cups for sale, with authentic Aboriginal designs, perfect for your Coolamon Coffee! Look for the daily morning tea specials which are likely to feature freshly baked scones or slice. There are also lunch specials, served Tuesday to Friday. And take-away service is available too.
While at the cafe, browse the range of wonderful Aboriginal giftware, including handbags, boomerangs, cushion covers, scarves, drink coolers, bush medicines and food. Local Aboriginal art and giftware is also available at the Barcy Base Camp Original Creations Art Gallery.
Owner, Cheryl Thompson, is passionate about serving quality, fresh food and great coffee, as well as providing a meeting place where locals and travellers can yarn and laugh together. And Cheryl is well qualified to do just that. This café has been in her family for many years. Known then as the Blue Danube, it became an iconic stop for interstate truckies to pull in for a truckie-size feed from Cheryl’s father, Davey.
The Ridgee Didge Café is open seven days, from 6.30am to 3.00pm Monday to Friday and 8.00am to 2.00pm on weekends.
Whether you are just visiting and wish to enjoy your meal in air-conditioned comfort, or just looking for something healthier and tastier than a pie on the shop, the friendly and professional staff welcome you.
Barcy Base Camp – Dig the Outback
Barcy Base Camp will have two new experiences for the traveller to Barcaldine – the Desert Dreaming Centre and the Dinosaur Dreaming Trail, both of which will come under the banner of Trackers Tours.
The Desert Dreaming Centre will offer authentic Aboriginal interactive cultural and tribal experiences with descendants of the Yiningai tribe. There will be an array of options including tribal song and dance presentations, both during the day and in the evenings. Half day and full day tours will be available, where travelers can immerse themselves and their children into the richness of Aboriginal Australia, historically as well as with a contemporary insight.
Each of these experiences will be further enhanced with a range of follow up workshop options ranging from dance lessons, tribal art sessions, Aboriginal technology presentations, such as boomerang lore, throwing classes and making and decorating your own personalised boomerang, to bush tucker tasting and cooking.
Additionally, Trackers Tours will be offering a further collection of ‘Shared History’ tours around town and beyond to share the stories of the pioneering resilient settlers and our ever resilient current residents of The Outback.
The Dinosaur Dreaming Trail will introduce renowned Queensland Outback palaeontologist Paul Stumkat. Paul has been a major contributor to the existing Dinosaur trails across the Outback over the past two decades. Also going by the name of ‘The Dinosaur Hunter’ Paul, with his unique, deep knowledge of the natural history of this country, will blaze a new Dinosaur trail to expand on and connect with the existing trails. The Dinosaur Dreaming Trail will offer workshops, fossil digs and personalised tag along tours.
The Dinosaur Hunter will join forces with Trackers Tours and combine Paleo tourism with Indigenous tourism. Together they will create a blend of previously unavailable natural, scientific and cultural experiences catering to individuals, couples, groups and families. No matter what your age, fitness or interests are, Trackers Tours will have you covered to make your stay in the town worth the while.
The Queensland Outback has a rich evolutionary past, from long forgotten inland seas, which was home to mysterious and magnificent creatures from the deep, to the desert channels and spinifex country we know today. The Outback was also home of the Yiningai people and the incredibly resilient settlers of the past, and is home to the ever-resilient current residents of today.
With Trackers Tours, you can “join the evolution” and explore the transformation of the Queensland Outback from ‘then’ to ‘now’. From dinosaurs and Aboriginal Australia to the many achievements of the pioneering settlers, you will be presented with a blend of palaeontology and living cultures, experiencing both the past and present life of the outback Australia.
The Desert Dreaming Centre is so called to acknowledge and honour the identity of the “Desert Mob”, with Barcaldine’s original tribal inhabitants connected to an array of tribes that extended from the Desert Uplands, the Channel country and all the way down into Lake Eyre, and Dreaming refers to a system and practice of beliefs that had their origins long, long ago, though continue to be held in the minds and practised by many Aboriginal people to this day. The Desert Dreaming Centre will provide a range of tribal experiences for visitors to Barcaldine, providing positive, informative, hands on cultural experiences that will leave lasting impressions on the participants. The experiences will be guided and informed by the knowledge of the still existing original inhabitants of this country. Visitors will learn about Aboriginal history pre-colonisation, as well as the shared history between the two cultures. The goal will be to have these experiences presented by Aboriginal people from the surrounding tribes.
An exisitng dwelling will be refurbished using local labour, with the centre to be staffed primarily from the local community. A culture of traineeships will be established to provide opportunity for the Aboriginal and other youth of Barcaldine to aspire to work in the tourism and hospitality industry either in town or elsewhere. The Desert Dreaming centre will be the hub and the infrastructure to provide these training opportunities.
Over time, the Desert Dreaming Centre will expand to provide other services such as eco tourism, accommodation, education and healing centres. Tribal philosophies of landcare and management will be used, as well as tribal uses of native plants, with a transition of these philosophies that are embedded within the local Aboriginal culture to guide all of the experiences and future enterprises.
The Desert Dust Dancers
Through the Desert Dust Dancers, Cheryl Thompson is reviving and renewing the lore and cultural practices of her ancestors using her tribal language.
The members of the dance troupe are all students at the Alice River Aboriginal Hostel, run by Cheryl. Public dance presentations give students the chance to create some modest earnings that can be put towards set goals.
The narratives and dances begin to tell the story of Cheryl’s people in the context of tribal living and times. The portfolio is small right now, but it will grow as the students gain confidence and the permission to share their mob’s stories through song and dance.
The dance troupe is fluid, changing with each year’s enrolments at the hostel.
The Desert Dust Dancers don’t perform, but rather present in song and dance. The true meaning of ‘presentation’ is ‘the giving of a gift’. The dancers trust that audiences will receive their presentations as a gift of cultural sharing and connection … connection to country and connection as one.
The Desert Dust Dancers present two to three nights a week for the Barcy Base Camp.
Barcaldine Tourist Information Centre
Phone (within Australia) 4651 1724
Barcaldine has caravan parks that are known for their hospitality, including billy tea and damper cooked the bushman’s way.
Homestead Caravan Park and Cabins
At this exact spot more than three decades ago, the billy was filled and damper dough placed in a campoven nestled in hot coals. It was the start of a tradition that has passed faithfully from owner to owner in the intervening years to give guests at the Barcaldine Homestead Caravan Park a taste of the bushman’s smoko. The practice has always been hugely popular with guests, who even go so far as to say that this park has the best damper in the west.
Every day during the season, guests are treated to this famous bush smoko around 4.30pm. As well, there’s a great line-up of entertainers organised for this year. You’ll get anything from country music to 70s rock and roll six nights a week (Tuesday to Sunday) during the tourist season.
Friday and Saturday nights have been getting rave reviews for a number of years over the cuisine of a different nationality. You can get Chinese takeaway on those nights.
And any morning is the perfect time for a brekky wrap—a tortilla filled with breakfast food, including hash browns! They go like hot cakes, with 20 or 30 served up within an hour or two every morning.
Guests also appreciate the Rolls Royce of coffee machines that’s in the shop, whether their favourite is cappuccino, mochaccino or some other kind of cino!
The shop is popular with park guests and townsfolk alike, and you will find a range of products including phone recharges, basic groceries, dog food and auto products. The complex also has a service station that sells discounted fuel.
The park itself is like an oasis – green with lovely mature plantings – and is quiet,
relaxed and friendly. The sites are spacious and you can see hundreds of birds and other wildlife out the back. En suite or budget cabins are also available. A camp kitchen and free barbecue are available. No wonder a contingent of southerners come and stay for the entire winter every year!
Keep in touch with the free wifi access or enjoy using the book exchange. And if you’re in the park on June 15, it’s your lucky day. That’s the day Ben and Thanh celebrate their park anniversary. To celebrate, guests are invited to join them in a free three-course dinner with loads of entertainment.