Day 73 Sunday Aug 17th 2014 Longreach to Blackall
We had another cold night, but it is dry. The rain has moved on and is now battering the east coast. The road to Barcaldine is littered with dead kangaroos. Barky is a pretty town, neat and quiet being a Sunday. A train pulls out of the station and a small red kangaroo takes flight bouncing through the gardens and across the main street. That quiet.
The birthplace of the Labor Party, the Tree of Knowledge is a multi-faceted memorial that dominates the main street. Its size is a surprise. It is huge and it is made up of 3500 sharpened lengths of timber hanging down on wires. As the breeze blows it becomes a giant wind chime.
Touted as one of the town’s big attractions is a pub crawl as there are five hotels on the same street. Only two are open! So much for the pub crawl. There is a corrugated iron Masonic Temple that has a weatherboard front. The boards are cleverly painted in a geometric pattern to resemble bricks. It is so good that you must touch it to see which is the timber edge and which is an illusion.
We chat to a couple who tell us that we should stay in Barky as there is little to see in Blackall apart from the wool scour and that the free camp would be too wet from the rain. But we had been intrigued by a humorous brochure for Blackall so we turn south.
A popular girl of Blackall
Wore a newspaper dress to a ball
Her rig-out caught fire
And burned her entire,
Front page, sporting section and all.
Through 100kms of gidgee (Gidyea) scrub south to Blackall and what a charming little town it is. There are avenues of bottle trees and lots of green grass. We set up at the free camp on the Barcoo River and pay our $8 donation to the town. The riverbank has dried out sufficiently well. We wander about town looking at the gardens and statuary. There is even a statue to the local shearer Jack Howe who holds the record for having sheared 321 sheep in 7 hours and 40 minutes with hand shears. Now that would hurt. We walk into the famous Barcoo Hotel and are warmly greeted by the locals. We finish the day with dinner under the stars thankful that we didn’t take the advice of those folks in Barky.
2021 Note: Without going into too much historical detail, the shearer’s strike up at Dagworth Station near Kynuna lead to the birth of the Australian Labor Party. Events or skirmishes during the strike and an ensuing suicide at the Combo Waterhole inspired Banjo Paterson to write Waltzing Matilda.
Towing Kms: 187Kms