An Emu at Ilfracombe out from Longreach
We pushed on to Barcaldine at the junction of the Capricorn and Landsborough Highways – there are still some old buildings there. We had a really big afternoon at Barcaldine where a lot of political history was made.
First of all we noticed the Artesian Hotel.
Then we noticed the Tree of Knowledge site, one of Australia’s National Heritage Places, in front of the Barcaldine Railway Station. The site, pivotal in the Australian Labour Movement and the ALP, was where many activities took place around the bitter 1891 Shearer’s Strike. Visiting it so soon after the Stockman’s Hall of Fame, which seemed a more romanticised view, made for interesting contrasts.
And it’s a tragedy that someone poisoned the Tree a while back in 2006. ABC reported back then that about 30 litres of chemicals had been poured around over the tree’s roots.
The Windmill nearby had its own story as well – being a symbol of the importance of Artesian Borewater to outback Queensland.
It was sad to see the Globe Hotel which had closed in 2011 – although back in April 2013 there were plans for it to be redeveloped as a Visitors Centre and Art Gallery. We peered through the windows and it looked like there was activity going on inside. Down the track, future plans may also run to a library, theatrette and function centre.
Dad had an Adams uncle known as Gidge in Boggabilla, so I was taken by the Gidgee Bug Diner next to the Commercial Hotel and down from the Stock and Realty Building. Gidgee bugs are also known as Stink Bugs in other parts of Australia and there is a tree called Gidgee aka the Stinking Wattle. So we’ve wondered how he came to be known as Gidge.
Wandering around the corner we found the 1924 Radio Theatre building on what had been the Bank of NSW site.
Noticing a sign about an Australian Workers Heritage Centre, we wandered further and found a giant tent with a Eureka Flag flying on top. Back in 1988, the tent had been the main tent in the BHP sponsored touring exhibition to commemorate the Bicentenary of European settlement.
But there was so much more than the Big Top – eg extensive displays on the 1891 Shearers Strike. I’m descended from more than a few generations of Shearers, Stationhands and Stockmen and Graziers, and I’ve been of the Labour movement – so, for me this exhibition was fascinating.
Striking Shearers were gaoled for their stand – and workers’ relationships with the police deteriorated even further.
However the Shearers Strike was to have long lasting impacts
More widely, the emergence of Labour extended beyond the Shearers and the emerging Federal Parliament – intoRailways, Indigenous People, Women, Health.
The Australian Workers Heritage Centre is undeniably a museum with a powerful political message that still resonates.
Alas however, we spent so long in Barcaldine that we arrived much later than planned in Emerald where David had hoped to do some fossicking.