We decided to spend a night at the van park at McKinlay. The van park sits behind the local pub and is the reason why we stoped at McKinlay. The town is named after John McKinlay. John led a team to help search for Burke and Wills. He is best known for his transcontinental feat. In 1861-62 he travelled from Adelaide to the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The town is a famous place but not because it is named after John, not because it has the smallest public library and tourist centre in Queensland. Not because you can go fossicking for gemstone on the Maronan Station. Or that the Cannington Mine, which is only 87 ks south of the town, was one of the largest silver and lead mines in the world,
Why is McKinlay so famous? It is the home of the ‘Walkabout Creek Hotel.’ If you are that one person in the world who hasn’t seen the movie ‘Crocodile Dundee’ the Walkabout Creek Hotel played a starring role in the movie,
Outside of the front of the pub sits the ‘Never Never Safari Tours’ ute and the truck. The ute has lost colour but you can still make out the wording on the side. The truck looks just as bad as it did in the movie but considering the movie was made in 1986 both vehicles are holding their age well.
Of course we had a look inside the hotel. The pub was originally known as the Federal Hotel and was built in 1900. It changed its name after the movie was made and now is a major tourist attraction for the town. We had already met Charlie when we were at Adelaide River. Who is Charlie? Well his real name was Nick, Charlie was just his screen name. So who is Charlie/Nick? I will give you a hint. He weighed in at 1,000 kilograms and had a horn width of 2.25 meters. He died in 2000 and his claim to fame was he stared in 2 of the Crocodile Dundee movies with Paul Hogan (Mick Dundee) as Co-Star. Charlie was a water buffalo and the pet of the owner of the local pub at Adelaide River. When Charlie passed on his owner had him stuffed and now he proudly stands at the end of the bar.
The walls of the Walkabout Hotel are filled with photos of cast members and crew taken while they were making the movie. They have left behind their signatures on a XXXX sign.
Standing in front of the XXXX sign is the man himself. Mick Dundee. You can have you photo taken with him. We didn’t but we were told a lot of people do.
We sat down at the bar and ordered a drink each. The cans were served in a stubby cooler. (Something outback pubs do.) We started talking to the bar person. I told her I didn’t remember the bar looking like it did in the movie. She smiled at me and told me the bar used in the movie had been taken out and now sits in a shed out the back. We grabbed our drinks and headed out back to the shed.
Yep that was the bar I remembered.
Off in one corner at the top of the bar sits the boomerang that was ripped from the limo and thrown in the movie. There was also an old fashioned ‘Darwin Stubby’ on the bar. I haven’t seen one of them in years they are slightly bigger than the normal stubby. I don’t think it was in the movie.
For such a small place out in the middle of nowhere the van park was packed. We were in the non-powered site so for us it wasn’t too bad but for those who had chosen the powered sites they were packed in like sardines. There was even someone parked up on the ring road getting power from the laundry.
I took a walk around the town. The local park has information signs about the history of the town. Power arrived to McKinlay in the 1965s and it didn’t reach the surrounding district until 1982. Before then people used kerosene fridges to keep food cold. I can remember power arrived to the small country town I lived in as a child although I can’t remember what year it was. I can remember the old kerosene fridges we had and a generator for power.
There was a sign about the smallest library in Queensland. It is a bit of a star in its own right. The building was used as the offices for the ‘Never Never Safari Tours’ in the movie.
Some of the other buildings in the town were used in the movie as well. I walked around the town trying to pick them out. They’re really not that many buildings to pick from as the town only has a population of 10 now. None of the houses looked familiar to me.