Quilpie

After we parked up at Bulloo River at Quilpie we made our usual stop at the tourist information centre. On offer was a bus tour of the town. It only cost $12 and would take you to all the sights in the town like The Military history museum, Baldy Top lookout, St Finbarr’s church for the opal altar, the Powerhouse museum, airport mini museum, the end of the line and eagle gallery. I loved the idea, as it would makes seeing everything very simple and you would get local knowledge. Did we take the tour? No. We had missed it for the day so we did the tour ourselves.

St Finbarr’s church was rather a plain looking building. Both sides are massive glass windows lighting up the very plain inside. The showcase of the church is the opal altar, which sparkled in the sunlight.

Unfortunately none of my photos really showed the opal at it’s best. I was quite impressed with the altar. The opal comes from a nearby mine and was donated to the church.

Quilpie was one of the first towns to have a powerhouse as a result of a government scheme to provide electricity to small towns in rural areas.   The powerhouse was commissioned in 1952. It closed in 1988 when the town went on to the main grid.

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I was disappointed in the powerhouse museum. In one big room there is a motor and that is it. Ok there is some information of the wall but it didn’t grab my interest. I know, it is a boy thing.

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Then it was off to see the end of the train line. Adrian wondered why anybody would bother to go to the end of the line. I smiled and thought lots of train buffs but I did get what Adrian meant. There wasn’t really anything at the end of the line except ‘The End of The Line.’

The construction on the railway line from Charleville started in 1911 and reached Quilpie in 1917.   The line was going to continue on but because of the wartime scarcities of materials the work stopped and never started again. To start with the train ran twice a week and in its first year: 1,112 passengers, 1,564 tons of wool, 22,631 cattle and 29,261 sheep left the Quilpie station. The train service stoped in 1994 and a bus service took over for the people and roadtrains for the livestock.

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Now I can brag ‘I have seen the end of the line.’ I just need the right conversation to slip the statement into.

We stopped for lunch at one of the pubs. It was quite spectacular. The owners were slowly renovating it by keeping all the old features and modernising the rest. The ceilings had lovely iron cast mouldings.

The Military museum was just one room, but what made it stand out to me, was the personal stories from the war. Two books have been compiled, one with the letters and post cards sent through W.W. I.

The second book recounted the lives of Hugh and Joseph Tully who served in WW II. The museum holds the medals and Dog Tags of Joseph James Tully. Joseph’s son Joe has loaned his father’s medals to the museum, he also took part in the 70 years ‘Fall of Singapore Tour’ in 2012. Joe placed a Mulga Branch from Quilpie on the memorial to acknowledge the sacrifice of his father and uncle made during WW II (for a time Joseph was a prisoner of War.)

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You would think it wouldn’t take you long to see everything in the small museum but we spent close to an hour and half there. It is a big credit to the people of Quilpie and the RSL.

Our last sight seeing stop for the day was out to the airport for the mini museum. I saw the shed with photos and two information boards on the outside and was eager to find out what was inside.

I walked around the building but found no door. I guess I must have missed something. I did another walk round the shed and found a small hand hole. The door wouldn’t open so a quick look through the hole inside and it revealed a water tank. It made me smile what a great way to hide the tank. The mini museum was an outdoor one.

The museum was dedicated to Amy Johnson (born 1903). She was the first woman in Britain to be granted the Air Ministry’s ground engineers licence (1928) as well as gaining both her commercial and private pilot’s licence. If that wasn’t enough, she also qualified as a Navigator in 1929.

Amy tried to break Bert Hinkler’s solo flight from England to Australia. The record was 16 days. Due to her plane suffering damage during a landing at Jhansi then along with the repairs and some bad weather Amy completed her journey in 19 and half days.

While Amy was in Australia she left Darwin and was heading on a scheduled flight to Brisbane touching down at Daly Waters, Alexandra Station, Cloncurry and Longreach. Her next stop was going to be Charleville but the map she was using to navigate with, incorrectly showed Charleville as being the end of the railway line. Much to the excitement of the locals, Amy found out the mistake when she landed at Quilpie.

One of the items, which should be put on the list for the bus tour, is the local Lions Park. Ok I know most people wouldn’t bother but I thought it was a charming park. Not only is there some nice play equipment for the children, there is also some play equipment for adults with an outdoor gym.  For the ones in the middle there is a cycle obstacle track. (Never seen one in any other park.) As I was walking around looking at the bike track I spotted a time capsule. It was placed down in 1988 and will be opened later this year for the Centenary Year of the town. It would be interesting to see what has been hidden away.

Why were we at the park? The park offers free hot showers. We drove to the park at the end of the day. They were very basic but who is going to complain where there is lots of lovely hot water.

We could have parked closer to the river but when we pulled in we didn’t realize the bush camp continued on to the river.   The next morning we took a walk down to the river as it was only a 5 minutes walk away.

We had a lazy morning and headed out after lunch to drive out to Lake Houdraman. We had been told there was a bush camp there as well but this one you had to pay for, a massive $5 a night. The lake boasts some astounding bird life and we were told there was fish in the lake. It sounded good to us. On the information sign about the bird life in the area it stated ‘Visiting such an oasis makes it difficult to believe this is outback Queensland.’ Maybe we didn’t stay long enough as we didn’t see any bird life at all. It looked ok but we decided not to move.

We then drove out to Baldy Top lookout. It didn’t look like much when we arrived. We had to climb through the rocks to reach to top, when we go there the view was amazing and well worth the climb. You could see for miles.

On our way back to the van we stoped off at the fossicking fields. Not that we expected to find anything but you never will, if you don’t give it a go. We did find some opal. Small slivers that you had to use your imagination to see, but it was still opal and that is the main thing. I was happy.

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We went back to the park for another shower then Adrian hitched up the car. We would be heading off the next morning so we could leave without fuss.

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