Blackall

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Celebrate the colourful history of the Outback in Blackall. Photo: Tourism Queensland

Discovering – and exploring – fascinating towns such as Blackall in Outback Queensland is one of the great joys of the grey nomad experience.
While it may not boast the high-profile attractions of a Broome, Ballarat or even nearby Longreach, there is something authentic and very real about this attractive community situated 1,000 kilometres northwest of Brisbane.
Like so many unassuming country towns, there is a lot more to Blackall than meets the eye … and that’s no disrespect to the impressive collection of heritage buildings and tree-lined streets that do meet the eye! Grey nomads spending a few days in the area will soon learn to appreciate Blackall’s strong sense of community, and its unique history.
For example, did you know that the term ‘Beyond the black stump’ – used to identify a genuinely remote outback Australian location – was first coined in 1886 when government surveyors used a black tree stump in Blackall to steady their theodolites as they surveyed the area?
While Blackall was named by Major Thomas Mitchell back in 1846, (he is commemorated with a Memorial Clock the middle of Shamrock Street)the town’s most celebrated son is most certainly Jackie Howe. The great man famously sheared 321 sheep using blade shears in less than eight hours in 1892, a record only bettered six decades later by a shearer using a machine driven handpiece. The Jackie Howe Memorial Statue immortalises the legendary shearer.
If just thinking about shearing all those sheep is leaving you exhausted, a trip to the soothing artesian spa at the Blackall Aquatic Centre could be the go. The town is actually where the first artesian bore in Queensland was sunk.
While history and heritage are highly valued here, there is also scope for some fun and a number of unique artworks punctuate the streets, including Richard Moffat’s celebrated Eagles Nest, Circle of Friends and Roly Poly. All pieces which really need to be seen to be appreciated!
Blackall is located on the banks of the often dry Barcoo River, but if you can find a decent waterhole it’s still nice to sit beneath the shade of a Coolibah tree and throw in a line in the hope of catching a yellow-belly.
Blackall is part of the grassy ecosystem of the Mitchell Grass Downs and a trip to Idalia National Park about 100 kilometres away will be richly rewarded. A stop at Emmet Pocket Lookout or a hike along the Bullock Gorge walking track are good ways to enjoy the escarpments, spring-fed waterholes, red gum trees and perhaps even to spy a yellow-footed rock wallaby.
Camping wise, there is a low-cost camping option for self contained traveller at Barcoo Riverside Camp near Blackall, and there are a couple of good caravan parks in town, too.
Perhaps the only thing that grey nomads pulling off the Landsborough Highway to have a look around Blackall need to be warned about is that they might not want to leave. Apparently, local legend has it that if you pass the Barcoo River 10 times, then you are here to stay!

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