All grey nomad Slim Dusty fans will be familiar with the ‘Cunnamulla Fella’, a legend of the song he co-wrote with Stan Coster and performed across the country. For visitors to the town of Cunnamulla about 800 kilometres west of Brisbane, the large bronze sculpture of the ‘Cunnamulla Fella’ outside the civic centre is normally the first port of call.
The statue basically honours the many characters that have camped, worked and passed through this part of the country. As the largest of the four towns in the Paroo Shire – the others being Eulo, Wyandra and Yowah – Cunnamulla boasts a full range of services, shops, cafes and medical facilities.
Its history, beauty and location at the crossroads of the Adventure Way and the Matilda Highway has made it a nomad favourite. There are several good caravan parks around, as well as camping areas on nearby stations. With a population of around 1500, Cunnamulla – which means long stretch of water – sits on the banks of the Warrego River. While it is scenic and offers superb fishing, the river does occasionally break its banks and the town has flooded several times. There are some gorgeous parks and gardens to enjoy, and flowers are everywhere.
The Cunnamulla Fella Centre houses the visitor centre, museum, art gallery, and the Artesian Time Tunnel which takes visitors on a trip back 100 million years in time. The area has a rich indigenous history and Aboriginal art and artefacts are on display at several locations.
While the rich plains and river flats made the area ideal for sheep and cattle grazing, the town itself didn’t come into being until the late 19th century when it became a coach stop for Cobb and Co. Legend has it the first building in town was a shanty pub … and the museum captures the atmosphere of this time. One of the best ways to discover the unique character of this town is to take the Cunnamulla Heritage Trail.
Historic buildings include the saddlery, old post office, the railway station and the Warrego Watchman newspaper building. Another ‘attraction’ not to miss is the Robber’s Tree, where bank robber Joseph Wells was captured in 1880, and went on to become the last man in Queensland to be hung for the crime. The area is also rich with birdlife and wildlife and the River Walk and Sandhills Walking Track take visitors through the flood plains and different ecosystems. The six-hectare Cunnamulla Bushlands lies just to the east.
Great events include the Cully fest Outback and Aboriginal Folk Festival and, of course, the Cunnamulla Fella Festival in November, complete with bull riding, rodeo, markets, poetry, and live music. The chances are someone will belt out a very famous song whose first verse goes like this:
Now I’m a scrubber, runner and a breaker too
I live on damper and wallaby stew
I’ve got a big cattle dog with a staghound cross
I never saw the scrubber we couldn’t toss
‘Cause I’m the Fella from Cunnamulla
Yes I’m the Cunnamulla Fella
See you there.