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Street Art Outback Style

Western Queensland Road Trip #15 

Street art tells a story, and every outback town has a story to tell.

A mosaic shield on the Maranoa Regional Council building in Roma depicts the region’s rich history of agriculture and natural gas production.

Inside the building a much larger mosaic shows more detail: vineyards and wineries, gas fields, sheep and cattle farming, the road and rail routes which opened up the outback. Indigenous first peoples and industrious pioneers are featured along with those beautiful bottle trees Roma is famous for.

There’s no mistaking the purpose of these parking bays at the Roma Community Art Centre.

The wall around Roma’s Bassett Park has been transformed into a giant canvas. A mural 100 metres long details a day in the life of the Maranoa Region, from sunrise to sunset. Aboriginal art, local native plants and a rig on the oil and gas fields all feature on the panels. Most spectacular is the image of Carnarvon Gorge, with its rugged sandstone cliffs disappearing into the distance.

Just south of Mitchell, a cluster of dramatic red figures stands beside of the highway. The memorial pays homage to the local constabulary who, in the early 20th century, protected the district from the Kenniff brothers, the last of Australia’s notorious bushrangers. A nearby plaque tells the story of the crimes and final demise of the brothers.

On Wills Street in Charleville, Matilda the big kangaroo greets visitors with a friendly wave. With her bush hat on, a swag on her back and a joey in her pouch, she’s ready to hop away on a new adventure. Further down the street, a giant yellow belly encourages anglers to throw in a line at the Warrego River.

Outside the Paroo Shire Hall in Cunnamulla, an Australian bushman sits on his swag, savouring a mug of billy tea. Titled “The Cunnamulla Fella” the statue depicts the iconic Australian character described in the song of the same name, written by Stan Coster and recorded by Slim Dusty.

Just across the road are more well-known Australians.

The beautiful painted silos at Thallon are easily seen from the highway but it’s worth driving right into town for a closer view.

There’s no need to get up close to see this Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat. Located in the park in the centre of Thallon, the oversized sculpture brings attention to the wombat’s critically endangered status. Once found right across eastern Australia, this species of wombat now survives in just two areas of Queensland; in a National Park near Clermont and a conservation park near Thallon. At the Richard Underwood Nature Refuge, more than 200 wombats live in a securely fenced colony, protected from predators like wild dogs.

Flora and fauna, history and heritage, people and places – street art tells the stories of the towns of the outback.

Another Top Drop

Western Queensland Road Trip Square Tops Challenge #29

It might have been quiet at Nindigully Pub, but it was the opposite the day we went to Riversands Wines.

The car park was packed, marquees filled the garden and a band was warming up on stage. We’d obviously gatecrashed a party!

It was the St George winery’s annual Easter in the Vines celebration and by the time we arrived it was completely booked out. That didn’t stop winemaker David welcoming us with a warm smile and a few samples of his award winning wines. A bottle of his delicious Stirling’s Reserve Red Liqueur Muscat was soon in my bag.

We were too late to join in the “cook your own” barbecue lunch, but David found us a table under a shady tree.

Anyway, who needs steak when there’s coffee and freshly baked scones with homemade grape jam and cream on the side?

While our travels are on hold, I’m joining in every day with Becky’s April Square Tops Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: photos must be square and fit the theme word “top”.

Top Brass

Western Queensland Road Trip Square Tops Challenge #25

Whether you visit Australia’s capital cities or the smallest of rural towns, you will find one common element in them all. Every place in Australia has a war memorial dedicated to those who have served or are still serving our country, both at home and overseas.

Most were created after World War One to acknowledge Australia’s contribution and commemorate service personnel who died in far away lands. Since then, names have been added as Australians served in more recent engagements.

Many memorials are small and simple, in recognition of local people who served.

Wyandra

Thallon

Cunnamulla

Some pay tribute to local individuals who gave outstanding service while others honour those who remained at home.

St George

Bollon

In larger towns the memorials are grander. They remind us that, for more than a century, Australians have been and still are on active duties in many parts of the world.

Charleville

In August 1915, Australian and New Zealand forces led a successful campaign against the armies of the Ottoman Empire in what became known as The Battle of Lone Pine. Some war memorials include a tree, a descendant of the single pine tree which stood on that long ago battlefield.

Morven

For Australians and New Zealanders, today is ANZAC Day. Every year we remember the soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who served at Gallipoli in a campaign which began at dawn on 25th April 1915 and lasted for eight months. We gather to give thanks for their service and also for those who have served our countries since then.

This year is different. There have been no community Dawn Services, no marches or parades and no gatherings of comrades, families and friends. Instead we joined our neighbours in a minute’s silence, all standing outside our homes as the sun rose, with candles lit and phones streaming the playing of the Last Post and Reveille.

Lest We Forget

 

Read more about ANZAC Day here

While our travels are on hold, I’m joining in every day with Becky’s April Square Tops Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: photos must be square and fit the theme word “top”.

Top Job

Western Queensland Road Trip Square Tops Challenge #24

Here’s a second helping of the beautiful work of St George local Steve Margaritis, whose hand carved emu eggs are world renowned.

While our travels are on hold, I’m joining in every day with Becky’s April Square Tops Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: photos must be square and fit the theme word “top”.

A Top Drop, But Not Today

Western Queensland Road Trip Square Tops Challenge #12

The signs at the turn off to the Nindigully Pub weren’t encouraging.

But Mr ET wasn’t going to be put off that easily. We continued down the track to the pub, which has been sitting on the banks of the Moonee River since 1864. There was no one about – only nine people live in the town of Nindigully.

It was looking more positive up on the veranda…

but even though the sign said “Happy Hour” there was no beer.

The pub was closed!

We’re definitely going back to Nindigully once the travel bans are lifted.

While our travels are on hold, I’m joining in every day with Becky’s April Square Tops Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: photos must be square and fit the theme word “top”.

Top Secret

Western Queensland Road Trip Square Tops Challenge #5

Do you know how close World War Two came to Australia?

Enemy ships and submarines cruised in Australian waters and engaged in several naval attacks. Two towns in the far north were repeatedly bombed in air raids. And one million American service personnel were stationed at bases around the country.

In 1942, the airport at Charleville was handed over to the United States Air Force and turned into a military base. Charleville was chosen as the site of the base because of its remote position; it was unreachable by Japanese bombers. 3,500 American servicemen lived and worked there but, after the war ended, almost everything was removed. Today only a few traces remain of the buildings on the base where top secret work took place.

To learn more about what happened here, we joined the Top Secret World War Two Tag Along Tour. In our own vehicle we joined a convoy and set off up a dusty track to explore several sites near the airport.

All that’s left of most buildings are the foundations but, with the help of information boards, it’s easy to imagine what once stood in each location. Local girls looked forward to joining the servicemen for regular social gatherings at the Dance Hall.

The open air shower block was a necessity for good personal hygiene.

These hollows in the ground were once lined with bitumen, creating rudimentary bathtubs where the men could enjoy a relaxing soak.

One surviving war time building is located at the airport. Hangar 104, one of five hangars constructed by the Americans, was returned to the RAAF after the war. It’s now the Charleville base of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Another relic left still standing is this small concrete shed. During the war it was camouflaged with branches cut from the surrounding mulga trees so it couldn’t be detected by planes passing overhead.

What was inside that required such clandestine measures? I can’t tell you! It’s top secret and you’ll need to join a tag along tour to find out.

Or you could do some research online. Let me know if you find out.

While our travels are on hold, I’m joining in every day with Becky’s April Square Tops Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: photos must be square and fit the theme word “top”.

All or Nothing

Western Queensland Road Trip #18 St George

After seeing seeing little more than puddles in several outback rivers, the broad expanse of the Balonne River at St George was an unexpected surprise. Tall river gums lined the river banks and the almost cloudless sky above was reflected in the water flowing slowly towards the weir.

With the sun nearing the horizon we set off along the Riverbank Walkway, a two kilometre track on the town side of the river. As the shadows lengthened and the tree trunks glowed in the light of early evening, a little cruise boat carrying tourists passed by.

There were plenty of locals enjoying the river too, with cyclists, walkers and even two horseback riders on the track. We mentioned our surprise at the volume of water in the river to a lady walking her dog and she explained. “The dam wall upstream needs repairs so all the water has been let out of Lake Kajarabie into the river. It’s being held back by the weir, but the situation is very worrying. This is all the water we have. If it runs out, there is no more.”

Even before the sun had set over the water the moon rose into the clear night sky. We stayed until it was almost dark, taking in the beauty of the river and the bush.

The next day we drove out to Beardmore Dam to see for ourselves. That lady was right. The dam wall, which usually holds back up to 81 000 mega-litres of water, could clearly be seen and the lake was as dry as those rivers we’d seen elsewhere.

Like the people of St George, we could only hope that rain would fall again to replenish the river and the lake.

Post Script: After recent heavy rain in the St George area, Beardmore Dam filled in less than two weeks and is now at 99.98% capacity. The Balonne River broke its banks, reaching a peak of more than 12 metres but no homes in St George were inundated.

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