When it comes to attractions in Charleville, the large and small of it is that the universe and a quaint little creature called the bilby are the starring acts. Pretty much every visitor who comes here has them numbered one and two on their must-see list.
Charleville is justly famed for the star-viewing opportunities at the Cosmos Centre but it’s not only when the stars come out that people can get an out-of-this-world experience. There’s nearly as much there to fascinate you during the daytime! Most people spend an hour and a half or more. The complex is near the airport, 3km from the centre of town on a road named (wait for it) … the Milky Way.
A Bilby Experience
After visiting the Cosmos Centre, it’s a real change of pace and focus to have a bilby experience and learn the heartwarming story of this cute little marsupial’s return from the edge of extinction.
These days bilby numbers, though low in the wild, are being helped along with a captive bilby breeding programme in Charleville. A predator-proof fence at Currawinya National Park works in conjunction with the Charleville captive breeding program for the re-introduction of bilbies into the wild. When bilbies are released inside the enclosure, they are monitored with the help of radio transmitter tracking devices.
During your stay in Charleville, enjoy a Bilby Experience. Shows are operated from the Railway Station and will run from April to mid-October this year. Check with the Charleville Visitor Information Centre for more.
Once you’ve seen those two attractions, get ready for a lot more – Charleville offers more than 20 visitor experiences.
See yellow-footed rock wallabies (and for something quite different, snakes!) at the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Office. Take your smoko and enjoy it at the picnic table in the native garden near the wallaby enclosure.
Graham Andrews Parklands
Spend some quality time at the Graham Andrews Parklands. Constructed after the 1990 flood, it is an outback oasis with a lake, working windmill, watercourse, adventure playground, picnic shelters and free barbecues. The park has a collection of 18 species of Australian native trees. Stroll along the timber walk where plaques identify the trees. If you’re there early in the day or near dusk, you’ll probably be treated to bird and wildlife sightings.
Also situated within the parklands are two Vortex Guns, which remain from a 1902 experiment to try to make it rain during a devastating drought.
Freshwater fishing can be a rewarding pastime in this region. The town’s fishing and restocking club has for many years made sure that there are plenty of fish in the rivers for people to catch. Throw in a line and see if you can pull in a yellowbelly (golden perch) or a giant Murray cod.
Outback golf is often appealing to visitors. The Charleville Golf Club has nine grass greens and nine sand greens, so pull out your clubs if you’ve brought them.
Daily Weather Balloon
Tourists can watch the daily weather balloon get automatically released at 9.15am at the B.O.M., Qantas Drive (past the Cosmos turnoff but before the Airport terminal). The information gathered from this flight helps the forecasters develop the weather outlook and forecasts for the region.
If you come by coach, train or plane, there’s a three-day two-night taxi tour that can help you see the sights while you’re here. It’s called Bilbies, Stars and Secrets.
Get to know some of Australia’s inland birds with a tour of Woolabra Station. The tour runs twice a day – from 9.00am and 1.00pm. Relax over smoko at a billabong on the property while you enjoy the scenery, with a good chance of seeing a variety of animals as well as the birdlife.
You’ve heard of Checkout Charlie? Well, this tour is Check Out Charleville and you won’t need your passport for it! It’s a brilliant mix that gives an insight into outback living and how the people of Charleville have coped with droughts and floods and even fire.
It might sound like you have to be a birdlover to go on the Brolgas, Bustards and Beaut Birds tour, but in actual fact the story of the property is even more fascinating than the birds. Meet Kev and find out how he got this property out in the middle of nowhere up and running successfully with his different farming style. It can even beat a drought! (No wonder, when you see the lake he built.) And hey, you might see some birds as well!
Or do a tour from the air. Book for all tours at the Charleville Visitor Information Centre. Please note that some tours do not operate during the summer.
If you love a great story, then the tale of Harry ‘Poppa’ Corones, told during the Stories and Scones Tour at Charleville’s glorious heritage building the Hotel Corones, is one you are going to just love! The Stories and Scones Tour is filled with fabulous history, quirky humorous stories, beautiful architecture, the odd ghost story and tales of the rich and famous who have stayed there.
Military secrets and wartime tales make up part of Charleville’s history. Take a tour to uncover this aspect of Charleville—that of a top secret base for 3500 USA servicemen as part of a response to the war in the Pacific. All is revealed on the World War 2 Convoy Tour, which is run daily at 10.00am from April to October and three times a week during the other months. This tour won the 2013 National Trust Gold Governors Award for heritage preservation. Bookings are essential and can be made at the Visitor Information Centre.
Discover how school is taught outback style with a visit to the Charleville School of Distance Education. Teachers take daily phone and computer link lessons for about 240 primary and secondary children and two lessons a week for preschoolers. The school’s catchment area for students is 400,000 square kilometres! Tours operate Monday to Friday 9.30am (closed public and school holidays).
Historic House has for many years been the town’s museum and the home of historic furniture, working gramophones, bric-a-brac, clothing and tools. The machinery collection includes a Dennis fire engine, rail ambulance, assorted buggies and a replica Cobb and Co coach. The Cobb and Co story is of particular interest this year, for the Charleville and District Historical Society has been cataloguing old Cobb and Co stopping places throughout the southwest with the intention of placing a permanent plaque at each stopping station.
Royal Flying Doctor Service
One of Australia’s truly iconic organisations is the Royal Flying Doctor Service. This wonderful service manages to get doctors where they’re needed even when isolation and a lack of infrastructure would seem insurmountable obstacles. Visit the RFDS Charleville Visitor Centre. Located adjacent to the RFDS Base and Hangar on the appropriately named John Flynn Way, and just a short walk through the mulgas from the popular Charleville Cosmos Centre and Observatory, this modern facility celebrates the historical links between the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Charleville, home to the longest-serving RFDS base in Queensland.
A self-guided tour takes you from the humble beginnings of the Royal Flying Doctor Service to the present day operations. The free attraction is open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 4.30pm and on weekends and public holidays from 10.00am to 4.30pm (closed on weekends and public holidays from November to February.)
A rare chance to go behind the scenes is on offer with the Royal Flying Doctor Visitor Centre and Hangar Tour. Trace the story of the RFDS from its beginnings in 1928 then enjoy the opportunity to see the action end with a visit to the hangar, originally built in the wartime as a maintenance shed for Flying Fortresses.
Charleville Visitor Information Centre
Phone (within Australia) 07 4654 7771