Thargomindah offers the visitor plenty to see and do, modern facilities, great accommodation, and is a must when travelling to the outback.
Tours & Attractions
It was this small Outback town of Thargomindah, population 240, that produced the Australia's first electric street lights - in 1893. First in the world to have hydroelectric street lighting was London, followed by Paris. Just a day later, 'Thargo' illuminated its isolation with power generated by water pressure from the Great Artesian Basin and continued to do so until 1951.
This Outback Queensland outpost, 1,100km west of Brisbane, also had the nation's first reticulated bore water. But it is the abundant birdlife on its fresh and saltwater lakes that attracts attention these days. Pelicans make rookeries and use the saltwater lakes as their breeding grounds, perhaps considering this to be the fabled inland sea. Mary Hannay Foott wrote the poem 'Where the pelican builds', at Dundoo Station, 140km east, in 1881. A nature lover's paradise, 353 edible plants have been identified in this Channel Country.
Sadly, the Burke and Wills 'Dig Tree', 275km west, tells a sorry tale. It was under the shade of this coolabah tree that the explorers established Depot LXV (65) in November 1860 and left a small group with supplies before heading 1,200km north to the Gulf of Carpentaria with just two others, Gray and King. Gray died on their return trip. The others found the tree, marked 'Dig', and the food buried at its base. Unable to find the rest of their party, the men travelled westward. Burke and Wills finally died of starvation, enclosed by the land in which Aborigines found ample food. You can visit their graves, 25km apart, and 320km northwest of Thargomindah.
The name Thargomindah may, according to one local Aboriginal dialect, mean 'echidna' or, according to another, 'cloud of dust'. Did they know something white settlers didn't? The Bulloo shire, the third largest shire in Queensland, stretching over 47,000km, contains gas fields that supply up to 80 per cent of Australia's needs. The largest onshore oil fields in Australia are also found here.
Leahy Historic House is well worth a visit. Built by John Leahy in the early 1880s, it was bought by pastoralist Sidney Kidman in 1912 for his travelling manager. "This isn't just a little town way out in the scrub - John Leahy was involved in the preliminaries to federation and ended up in state parliament," said local tourism officer Ken Manktelow. The house is open 24 hours a day.
The Historic Hydro Power Plant & Energy Display Park is open everyday. Free tours are available weekdays at 8:30am and 4:30pm, and weekends at 4:30pm.
Today's locals, Yvonne and Gary Howard, have created a true oasis at their Desert Rose Haven. The 740 trees and shrubs they have planted on almost five acres of land in town include the purple desert rose, a type of hibiscus that grows to two and a half metres, "This is a little piece of heaven in the desert plains of Thargomindah," says Gary. The couple donate the $5 admission fee to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, an apt move as the Desert Rose Haven stands on the grounds of the old hospital complex.
A business named Bulloo Built, next door to Desert Rose Haven, uses old timber found around the district to make beautiful items ranging from picture frames to coffee tables.
Cameron Corner, pegged by surveyor John Cameron in 1880, is a great spot to quench your thirst at the licensed bar. This is the place where three States - New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia - meet 400km west of Thargomindah.
Or why not ponder a new start as you stay at a beautiful Bed and Breakfast, such as the one on Epsilon Station, 350km from Thargomindah, in stunning arid country.
There are two National Parks in the area. Lake Bindegolly National Park lies some 40km east and you will see swans, freckled ducks and pelicans amongst the 200 bird species of the area. Vehicles are not allowed to enter - you must walk to the lakes. Camping is available at Currawinya National Park which also features lakes and water birds, and mulga vegetation. Or you can stay at the historic Royal Mail Hotel which was built in 1873 and is just 14kms from the national park.
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