East of Longreach in inland
Queensland, Barcaldine is an outback
town with five pubs and about 2000 people in the middle of cattle and
sheep shearers’ country.
It has also been called “the Garden City”,
because it is green, thanks to its supply of artesian water. It has got
an interesting history and some great old museums and buildings, but
its most famous landmark is the Tree of Knowledge – more popular than
ever after it was killed in April 2006.
Tree of knowledge old monument. by
Tree of Knowledge
2006 was year full of happenings in Australia.
Not long after the devastating Cyclone
Larry and the rescuing of the Beaconsfield
miners in Tasmania,
newspapers were selling well again when
somebody had poisoned the Tree
Knowledge in Barcaldine. Locals had
noticed it drying and the soil samples taken to a lab showed that 30
litres of glyphosate had been poured on its roots. The tree died later
in the year despite all the attempts to save it, but it has since
become more popular than ever before.
Tree of knowledge now. by Hopkinsii via Flickr.com
Shearers' Strike - History of the Tree of Knowledge
This 150 year old eucalypt
was the meeting place
during the Shearers’ Strike in 1891 and the symbol of Australian
workers and Labour Party. Sheep shearers, many of whom were previous
convicts, not very educated and out of opportunities to get a better
job, were employed by rich graziers during very bad conditions. They
worked long days and earned little money, and they had to pay bond
money which they lost in case they would in any way breach the very
strict contract which basically made them almost slaves. This caused
two shearers’ strikes in the end of 1800s, which improved their working
conditions and lead to the formation of the Australian Workers Party.
Since the Tree of Knowledge used to be their meeting place during the
strike, it had become a symbol for workers’ rights.
Workers Heritage Centre. by shantavira via Flickr.com
Workers Heritage Centre
With all this workers’ history, Barcaldine’s largest and most famous
museum is the Australian Workers Heritage Centre. It is a large
museum where you can go in to different buildings such as an old
railway station, police watch house, a labour house, powerhouse and an
old one-teacher school. There is also a big tent house with
displays about the shearers’ strike and Aboriginal
people, a Workers Wall with old photos, Old
Hospital Ward, replicas of an old courthouse; Australian
Bicentennial Theatre which toured Australia in 1988 during the
Australian Bicentennial celebrations, and two exhibition blocks with
displays about emergency services (old fire trucks etc), women in
Australian workers history, women in war, apprenticeships and
traineeships. It’s a great place to spend a few hours and learn about
Australian workers’ history.
Masonic lodge. by mgjefferies via Flickr.com
Other Museums and Buildings
There are a few other things to see in town – the beautiful historical
building Masonic Lodge (built on 1901), St Peter’s Anglican Church, and
the interesting Barcaldine & District Folk Museum in an old
building, which contains all sorts of old items both in and outdoors.
South from here is the Mad Mick’s Funny Farm - a fun place with old
buildings, art galleries, a shearers’ shed, a House of 1000 Dolls, old
cars and a small wildlife park with emus,
War memorial. by mgjefferies via Flickr.com
Artesian Water and Artesian Bore
There is a large artesian basin under this part of Queensland. It is an
underground water source that extends from here all the way north to
Gulf Savannah. Most of the towns that are above the artesian basin use
artesian water as their only water source, and Barcaldine is one of
them. There is a large artesian bore north from the Mad Micks’a place,
and north of the railway you can visit a historical bore site.
Outback windmill in the middle of the town. by F.d.W. via
There are many hotels (pubs with rooms upstairs) in Barcaldine so
you’re not likely to run out of places to stay. Apart from the hotels,
there are the Ironbark Inn Motel and Restaurant, Blacksmith’s Cottage
Bed & Breakfast, and Landsborough Lodge Motel.
One of the best
caravan parks is the Homestead Caravan Park. They put a nice outback
show on with damper, billy tea, all sorts of outback stories to be
told, and live country music. Very friendly owners and a great
Artesian Hotel. by mgjefferies via Flickr.com
Camping - Homestead Caravan Park
There are often some fairly famous outback singers, and storytellers
like Tom Lockie – a funny outback larrikin who has an endless amount of
outback stories. He is also the operator of some of the best tours
around Barcaldine – Artesian Country Tours which will take you to
different places in the area. It is very popular and gets
Commercial Hotel. by Marianne de Wit via Flickr.com
Here's an Australian outback map showing
where I have tagged the places that I mentioned on this web
page. You can click on the tags to see what places they are, and
double-click anywhere on the map to zoom it in and see the places
closer. Drag the map to move around, and if you want to see the
satellite image with Google Earth, click on "Sat" in the top right hand
This site uses
British English, which is the English we use in Australia. You will
find words like "traveller", "harbour" and "realise", and they are all
correct in the language used in Australia.
best efforts have been made to ensure
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