Grey nomads flock to Charleville in Queensland

The Outback Queensland town of Charleville first ap­pears on many grey nomad radars because of its relative accessibility … but it is its charm and history that makes it a ‘must-come-back’ destina­tion.

Standing at the crossroads of the Mitchell and Warrego Highways on the banks of the Warrego River, the impact is immediate. The town, which boasts a permanent popula­tion of around 3,500, is packed with classic old buildings and historic pubs. The post-war prosperity that the area enjoyed courtesy of the wool in­dustry meant Charleville was showered in infrastructure, amenities and architecture.

When the shearers moved onto greener pastures, they left behind a picture-postcard town for grey nomads to discover and enjoy. But Char­leville is so much more than just a pretty façade, it’s steeped in history … and more than just shearing history.

This is where Cobb and Co had their largest and longest running coach making factory, and it was here that the fa­mous rainmaking experiment, the Vortex Gun, was carried out. This attractive railway town boasts a seven-metre-high First World War Memo­rial, hosts a Royal Flying Doc­tor Service visitor centre, and there are some great museums. Consider Charleville a history book laid open for discovery.

One of the best ways to ac­quaint yourself with the town is to meander along the War­rego River walk which takes you along the banks of the river, across the flood plains and through channels. There is a viewing deck about half way along, which is great place to soak up all the colours of the Outback.

Water is a recurring theme and, despite how dry the landscape might look when you are there, there are plenty of reminders that the weather is volatile in the west. When a storm hits, the Warrego River is known to inundate Char­leville in the blink of an eye.

While iconic old pubs like Hotel Charleville and Hotel Corones have a certain appeal, the best night life in town is to be found in the skies overhead. There is so little artificial light or pollution here that you get a clear view of the stars. The Charleville Cosmos Cen­tre is an astronomer’s dream and every night the roof rolls back to expose three Meade telescopes which can spot a globular cluster light-years away.

Every night, the sky-guides explain what you can see and share their knowledge with detailed scientific interpreta­tion about the planets, open clusters, globular clusters and coloured stars.

There are, of course, some superb caravan parks and campsite sin the area, with a real Outback feel … and a real Outback welcome.

Whatever grey nomads are looking for when they head off on their big adventure, most find at least part of it in this truly magical corner of the world.


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