South to Bourke

Before leaving Charleville we had a look around the town. It is a rural service centre on the Warrego River. With a population of over 3,000, it is the largest town in South West Queensland and became an important transportation stopover between the vast properties of western Queensland and the vital railhead at Roma. Today the town is an important centre with offices of both the School of the Air and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

After driving along a few of the wide, dusty streets it’s obvious that this is an old town. Many of the old-style houses have seen better days.

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There is a very decorative war memorial in the main street. Like most of these rural towns, patriotism was high in the early 20th Century and 310 local men went off to WW1 with 40 killed in action. That’s a big contribution for a small town.


Diagonally opposite from the war memorial is the enormous Hotel Corones. It was built by a Greek immigrant (who arrived in Australia penniless) and completed in 1929. The hotel became the place to go in Charleville and over the next few decades it played host to local and international society. In addition to wealthy local graziers, celebrities such as Amy Johnson, Gracie Fields, and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester were guests at the hotel. In 1936 there were on average 133 guests per week and during World War Two when American servicemen occupied the local aerodrome and hospital.

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As we travelled, our car was showing a temperature of 36.5C so it was pretty hot. We came to an intersting site at Angellara Creek, where in September 2014 the largest ever explosion in Australian history occurred. A road train carrying 53 tons of ammonium nitrate caught fire, crashed and exploded. The blast knocked over everything within a kilometre  including the rail and road bridges across the creek.  No more trains to Charleville after that!


A little further down the highway, we found the tiny village of Wyandra, To call it a village is probaly a misnomer as that will conjure up images of quaint houses around a village green. It is actually a few tumbling down houses, dusty streets, shacks and sheds.


However, it had two interesting features. One was ‘The Beach’ on the nearby Warrigo River. At the moment the river is not flowing but does have some muddy water in it. The beach is a sandy stretch on the bank.


The Post Office, general store and cafe are all combined into a colourful structure with a lot of memorabilia (junk) in the front garden. Their Devonshire Tea with fresh scones and jam was just too good to pass up.

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We had lunch in a pleasant park at Cunnamulla along with some caravaners and hundreds of Corellas. They flew in a large flock and screeched loudly whenever something disturbed them. Nearby was  a statue  of  the Cunnamulla  Fella who symbolises the man of the outback. He was the subject of a song by Slim Dusty. I have never been a big fan of Slim and his country music but it seem to fit very well into this area of the country.

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Over the last two days we have driven around 1000 kilometres. The land has been flat and uninteresting with nothing much to see. The most exciting event was  when we came across a flock of emus. Fortunately, they were behind a fence so there was no risk of their usual unpredictable behaviour of running randomly across the road.


2 thoughts on “South to Bourke

  1. In 1977, the Army had a staging post at the cricket ground in Cunnamulla. It was an overnight spot for units driving to Bourke for a major exercise.
    The cricket ground was a dry & desolate bare patch of dust and bindis. We were too late to occupy the cement cricket pitch, so we slept on the ground with the bindis. We spent the next year trying to remove the bindis from our webbing and bedrolls etc.
    Not a great reason to remember the place! 🙂

  2. Wyandra gives a whole new meaning to the old phrase ‘back of Bourke’.

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