Pack your bags, grab your mates and take a trip to the Bulloo Shire where you can experience nature on a large scale, immerse yourself in history and discover the riches of the region. Along with the freedom of being in the outback with the vast distances and red desert landscapes, you will be rewarded with stunning sunsets and glorious night skies. You can make the journey from Brisbane via the Adventure Way; by the Dowling Track from New South Wales or via the Strzelecki Track from South Australia. The roads are all well surfaced and retrace the once-rutted tracks of the Cobb and Co.
The legendary, illfated expedition of the Burke and Wills trek through far south west Queensland in 1860 paved the way for settlement in Thargomindah, with Vincent Dowling and John Leahy two of the pioneers pivotal in this settlement. You can view the bronze sculptures depicting their busts outside the Council Administration Office. With the success of grazing came the need for supplies, which came through on the infamous Cobb and Co from Bourke up the Dowling Track.
Followed by others with a strong sense of adventure, Thargomindah became the first town to be gazetted in the Bulloo Shire in 1874, followed shortly by Noccundra and Hungerford.
Hydro-electric Power Plant
While Thargomindah itself might be small, 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 morning. 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. An Old Hospital and Hydro Tour is held every day from 8.30am and 9.30am during the months of April through to September. Bookings are essential for this tour through the Visitor Information Centre on 4621 8095.
Nature and Heritage Walks
Walk along the beautiful Bulloo River to see the many river red gums, 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 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 a hardware/Foodworks general store, roadhouse, 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.
One of the best caravan parks in the far south-west is Thargomindah Explorers Caravan Park. Built in 2002, the Explorers features a number of well-appointed,
self-contained en suite cabins (one with disabled facilities) and a bunkhouse with separate rooms for the budget conscious. Powered, sewered sites are spacious and set amongst native shrubs and trees while there are unpowered sites in a typical outback setting. The park offers a modern amenities block, a well equipped camp kitchen, gas and electric barbecues and plenty of quiet camp sites. It is also ‘pet friendly’. Conveniently located a few minutes walk from the centre of town, the Thargomindah Explorers Caravan Park is even closer to the Bulloo River. Throw in a fishing line or toss in a yabby net you just might catch dinner!
For a good hot meal, you can’t go past the Bulloo River Hotel and the Oasis Motel with pizzas, roasts, camp ovens and all of your classic favourites. Grab a quick bite and REAL coffee from the Thargomindah Roadhouse or enjoy a relaxing, long lunch at Coffee on Dowling coffee shop.
For such a small ‘town’ Noccundra boasts some magnificent stories and a stunning history.
When you step out of your car, you can almost hear the sounds of the old Cobb and Co where they lumbered over arid, sun-scorched plains to Noccundra to feed and water their horses. Back in the day, Cobb and Co carriages went the length and breadth of the country to deliver passengers and most importantly, the mail and many other thousands of items.
The Noccundra Hotel, built in 1882, is made of sandstone quarried from Mt Pool in New South Wales which was transported by camel train. One of the most fascinating features of this building is the low doorways. The old hotel and its location has been witness to many stories, including the Andrew Hume Expedition, which passed Noccundra Waterhole in November 1874. Andrew Hume, also known as the ‘Black Prince’, was released from prison in Sydney to lead the expedition in search of a survivor of the lost Leichhardt Expedition. Hume, along with Timothy O’Hea, a famous Victoria Cross winner, perished on Nockatunga Station. The only survivor of Hume’s party was Lewis Thompson, an ex-India Army Cavalryman. Those who perished, rest in unknown graves.
If you’re looking for a bit of action, then visit Noccundra on 12-13 October to watch the local talent in action at the Noccundra Campdraft and Rodeo.
The Dig Tree
Discover the journey of Burke and Wills and experience one of Australia’s biggest ill-fated exploratory expeditions of all time by visiting Australia’s national icon, the Dig Tree. This iconic tree is just off the Adventure Way on the northern banks of Cooper Creek at Nappa Merrie Station. Arguably one of the most famous trees in Australian history, it stands as an enduring reminder of our pioneering spirit and extreme harsh conditions of the outback. If trees could talk, you would be mesmerised and mortified at the hardships, the miscommunication and the circumstances which lead to the death of both Burke and Wills. To truly feel and experience the story, read the interpretative signage display onsite, with the tree in the background bent over on the banks of the Cooper Creek, heavy from the burden it carries. To this day there is still mystery surrounding the story and this legendary tree as new revelations come to light. The subject of multiple investigations, research and controversy, the tree is now in the safe hands of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland.
Greg and Toni Sherwin are the owners of Kilcowera Station, which is a large organically run cattle property. They are dedicated and passionate graziers and use an intelligent, insightful and eco-friendly approach to land management.
It seems everything they do is well above ordinary and they work tirelessly on both the land and in their Station Stay business to be recognised as one of the leaders in both industries. Kilcowera Station is a member of the award winning Outback Beds network and has also received the Tourism Queensland Judges Commendation in 2010 and 2011 for Hosted Accommodation in the outback.
The property is also well known to be a birdwatchers’ paradise with over 180 species found on the property. Many of the Outback’s other iconic animals are also easily seen.
Yabbying, canoeing and swimming in the lagoon, dams or waterholes are popular activities in the right season or watch some seasonal station activities during your stay. Visiting an outback cattle station wouldn’t be complete
unless you do a tour or two of the property. Sit back and relax while Greg or Toni takes you on a guided tour or set off yourself on a self drive exploration of Kilcowera.
They are located near the village of Hungerford, Currawinya National Park and Thargomindah and offer accommodation in their modern and comfortable Shearers’ Quarters or stay in your own van, with the use of the showers, toilets, laundry, fireplaces, barbecues and basic camp kitchen. Of if you prefer head a little further away and bush camp at Cardenyabba Lagoon at a series of private and secluded campsites along the waterfront.
There is something significant about walking or driving through the Wild Dog Barrier Fence that separates Queensland and New South Wales in the little township of Hungerford. Originally built as a rabbit-proof fence in the 1880s, various fences were made higher during the 1940s to exclude dingoes. The fence became the longest fence in the world at over 8500km, with the length today being about 5600km.
The Royal Mail Hotel in Hungerford is an iconic pub not to be missed during your outback journey. Constructed in 1873 of corrugated iron, the hotel was transported over 200kms from New South Wales on bush tracks and was originally a Cobb and Co staging post.
And although a cold beer and great food are the mainstays of most pubs, appreciation for these simple pleasures is amplified when you are in the real Outback.
The history of the town, and everything that signifies the outback, is celebrated with events such as the Hungerford Field Day which will be held on 7 June and the annual Hungerford Horse and Motorbike Gymkhana held on the 5-6 October this year, providing fun and entertainment for the whole family.
Drive to the Cameron Corner Store located in the most south-western corner of Queensland. Once you are there, you get to stand or play golf in the three states of Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia all at once. The original wooden boundary post was surveyed back in 1880 by John Cameron, the NSW Lands Department Surveyor, and has been replaced with a commemorative post that marks all three states. Who would have thought to build a store in the middle of nowhere? The late Sandy Nall of course, a weary Australian soldier and ex-Vietnam vet. As he camped out on the sand dune near the post for a few weeks, counting cars as they passed, he decided that he could start a business there, and he did.
Each year thousands of people pass through Cameron Corner and is everyone’s favourite place to stop on their way to anywhere and everywhere. Its iconic location is a must-go-to for all Outback travellers. This popular and central meeting place is where you get to meet new friends or catch up with past travellers for a drink and a yarn. Here you will receive good old-fashioned hospitality, a cold drink, a hearty meal, a good laugh and a fix up for anything that is broken.
Join Cameron Corner for their annual New Years Eve party where you get to celebrate three times in three different time zones! What a night to remember!
Just a short drive from Hungerford is Currawinya National Park, which consists of red sandplains and mulga scrub beside long, dusty roads, giving little hint to the lakes, rivers and wetlands that makes Currawinya, with its inland waterbird habitat, a wetland of international importance. Lake Wyara and Lake Numalla are the main features of the park, which protects sites of Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultural heritage as well as threatened wildlife. Both lakes are breeding sites for a large number of birds that migrate from across the world. Up to 100,000 waterbirds inhabit the Currawinya wetlands. Due to the different water in the Lakes (Lake Wyara is salt water while Lake Numalla is fresh water) you will find different species of birds living on the lakes.
Lake Bindegolly is a seasonal lake and is highly dependent upon heavy rainfall in local catchment areas. During dry times it becomes a land of vast, white saltpans, samphire flats, claypans and sand dunes. After heavy rain, the lake joins with two other lakes in the National Park, the Hutchinson and Toomaroo, to form a long stretch of water. When the lakes are full it is one of the most important wetland systems in southwest Queensland, with thousands of waterbirds flocking here to feed and to breed. There is a walking track along part of the lake, returning via low hills, with an observation point for bird watching. Along with the waterbirds, other birds that inhabit the area are parrots, honeyeaters and fairy wrens. Accces to Lake Bindegolly National Park is by foot only due to the fragility of the environment.
Visitor Information Centre
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 Visitor Information Centre
Phone (within Australia) 07 4621 8095
Bulloo Shire Events
April 21-25 — Channel Country Quick Shears Shindig
June 7 — Hungerford Field Day
July 13-14 — Thargomindah Polocrosse Carnival
July 20-21 — Channel Country Music Muster
August 3-4 — Channel Country Muster
September 21-22 — Thargomindah Motorbike Gymkhana
October 5-6 — Hungerford Motorbike & Horse Gymkhana
October 12-13 — Noccundra Campdraft & Rodeo
December 31 — Cameron Corner New Year’s Eve Party