The tiny rural settlement of Aramac in central Queensland has well and truly put itself on the grey nomad map, courtesy of its historic association with a legendary cattle rustler.
Back in 1870, Harry Redford – who later became known as Captain Starlight – stole 1,000 head of cattle from nearby Bowen Downs Station and drove them into South Australia to sell. However, he ran into a spot of trouble en route when he sold a ‘misappropriated’ white bull in order to buy supplies from a station store.
The highly-distinctive bull raised suspicions and was later shipped back to Queensland to be used as evidence against Redford at his trial. To general surprise, Captain Starlight was eventually acquitted by a jury, and the legend grew.
Aramac, which lies about 130 kilometres north east of Longreach, has unashamedly sought to make the most of its Redford links and there are small white bulls scattered around the town, with a huge white bull in a dominant position on the main street.
For those seeking to get to grips with the story, a trip to the Henry ‘Harry’ Redford Interpretive Gallery which is part of the Rural Transaction Centre, is a must. The Gallery also displays photographs from the annual Harry Redford Cattle Drives.
One of the Captain Starlight white bulls is located outside the Aramac Post Office which originally opened in 1874, although the current building was constructed in 1912.
Other historical structures worth a look include the former Queensland National Bank building which was completed in 1926. Aramac was once one of the premier wool growing districts in Australia but lost some prestige when the railway went to Barcaldine instead of it.
However, a tramline was built between the two towns in 1913 and it continued to operate until 1975 when the all-weather road from Aramac to Barcaldine was completed. The Aramac Tramway Museum houses collections of memorabilia and the museum is also home to the ‘Aunt Emma’ rail motor engine which used to run on the line.
Other points of interest in Aramac, which has a population of around 300, include the Soldiers’ Memorial monument which was erected in 1924 and is engraved with the names of men and women from the Aramac Shire who enlisted in the 1914-1918 World War. The names of those who enlisted in the Second World War are engraved on the entrance gates to Aramac Memorial Park.
Aramac is also the starting point of the Lake Dunn Sculpture Trail which features 40 creations made from rusting odds and ends by local artist, Milynda Rogers. The trail ‘exhibits’ highlight various aspects of Outback life and meanders 200 kilometres to Jericho, via Lake Dunn.
Along the way is a modern stone ‘healing circle’, which is apparently connected to six other overseas healing circles. The circle is used for prayer and meditation.
Gray Rock, situated 35 kilometres east of Aramac, once hosted the Wayside Pub where Cobb and Co coaches would call for the night. Although just rubble now remains of the old hotel, the Outback’s original ‘Visitors’ Book’ apparently bears the names of some of those early coach passengers. Hundreds of names and dates have been etched into a sandstone surface which is protected by an overhanging layer of volcanic rock.
Lake Dunn itself lies about 70 kilometres north-east of Aramac and is a beautiful body of water. It is reportedly home to more than 80 different species of birds and is thus a twitcher’s paradise. It’s also a great place to throw in a line and perhaps land a Golden Perch or Black Bream, and it’s a top spot to camp for a night or two. Powered sites are available. For grey nomads looking to stay in the town, the council-run Aramac Caravan Park is a well-regarded budget option.
Captain Starlight would be impressed!