It’s extremely remote and it’s perhaps a little ‘rough around the edges’, but – as far as grey nomads are concerned – the tiny Queensland town of Muttaburra has an awful lot going for it.
For a start, they’re offered a warm welcome, some budget-friendly camping options, and a surprising array of attractions and activities to enjoy.
With a population of around 100, Muttaburra sits on the banks of the Thomson River, approximately 120 kilometres north of Longreach.
One of its major claims to fame is that it is located is the geographic centre of Queensland.
Another is that it is where the first ever skeleton of a Muttaburrasaurus dinosaur was found by local grazier, Doug Langdon, in 1963.
The Muttaburrasaurus was a huge, plant-eating creature that roamed the Earth around 100 million years ago. While the fossilised remains of the dinosaur – which was thought to have been 12 metres long and to have weighed 15 tonnes – are currently housed in the Queensland Museum in Brisbane, a replica of the Muttaburrasaurus Langdoni is now displayed in the new Muttaburrasaurus Interpretation Centre in town.
This whole area was once part of a vast inland sea, and the name Muttaburra means ‘the meeting of waters’. There is an extensive river system which meanders from the north into Lake Eyre and there are some great spots to throw in a line, including the Pump Hole, where visitors are advised they might pull in a yellowbelly, black bream or jewfish.
There are some top camping spots along the Thomson and Landsborough Rivers, notably at the Broadwater on the Landsborough, about six kilometres out of town, although there are no amenities here.
The Muttaburra Caravan Park offers powered sites from $15/ night for the first two nights, with the next three nights free. Muttaburra developed as a town back in the 1870s, and it soon had pubs (including the still operating Exchange Hotel), stores, a post office, a school … and a hospital was even built in 1884.
The hospital didn’t close until 1976 and today the building houses the Dr Arratta Memorial Museum, which boasts a fascinating hospital display section … as well as a 2.4-metre-high dinosaur leg replica! Also well worth a visit is the old Cassamatis Store, which opened in the early 1900s and operated as everything from a haberdashery to an emporium before closing in 1978.
The building has since been lovingly restored and now operates as a museum. It boasts all of its old original fittings such as an old cash register, lolly jars, and weighing scales, and the shelves are stacked with many of the same items that would have been sold back in the day.
Next door to the Cassimatis General Store is a fully-restored five-room cottage that was built in 1903 and now offers visitors an insight into what life was like here more than a century ago. All Saints Church, which was built in 1903 out of corrugated iron, is also worth a look.
Another must-do for history-loving grey nomads is to take in the Muttaburra Heritage Trail, which takes in the local cemetery with graves dating back to 1885, and the Union Camp where shearers set up a campsite during the great shearers’ strike in 1891.
Muttaburra also lies at the heart of one of Australia’s most infamous cattle thefts. In 1871, the legendary Harry Redford, aka Captain Starlight, stole 401 head of cattle from nearby Bowen Downs Station and overlanded them down the Cooper Creek to South Australia.
Once grey nomads have had their history ‘fix’ many enjoy strolling around town looking at the collection of ingenious artworks dotted around the place. Made from scrap metal, old tools, and barbed wire, the sculptures include dinosaurs, brolgas, a plane, a chair, goannas, and even a yellowbelly made from shearers’ combs and cutters.
And, after an art tour, fossickers might also enjoy a trip along Longreach Road to look for agates and gidgee stones.
What more could you possibly want?