As Barcaldine is only a relatively short distance from Longreach it didn’t take long for us to reach there – in fact we were there in time for a very nice pie for lunch from the bakery.
One of the main attractions in Barcaldine is the Tree of Knowledge. This tree, a eucalyptus papuana, or ghost gum, has stood outside the railway station for more than a century. It was a silent witness to the 1891 Shearers’ Strike, and subsequent events, which led to the formation of the Australian Labour Party. The tree had a chequered life, but finally died from poisoning in 2006. The current Tree of Knowledge memorial was erected for Queensland’s sesqui-centenary in 2009. From the outside it looks like a giant slatted box on stilts, but inside there are suspended round poles of different lengths, many cut at 45⁰, and all able to move with the breeze. Looking upwards the sense is of standing under the canopy of an enormous tree.
|The Tree of Knowledge Memorial|
|Looking up from inside the TOK Memorial|
In keeping with the importance of the Tree of Knowledge, all the streets in Barcaldine are name after trees.
Barcaldine is also notable for its hotels – apparently six of them remain, all over one hundred years old. That’s probably why it’s pronounced bar-called-in. The hotels I located seemed to be made of galvanised iron. It would have made for many hot nights before the advent of air conditioning.
|One of Barcaldine's many hotels|
The other important attraction in Barcaldine is the Australian Workers Heritage Centre. This centre traces the development and history of the Labour Party in one display while other areas recognise the contribution of employees in a variety of industries. These include railways, police, emergency services, health, education and main roads, to name a few. There is also a display dedicated to women’s working history. Although we have been to many museums and heritage centres, this one is quite different as it showcases the working history of many “ordinary” people, not just the heroic.
|Queensland Rail's worker display. The station was originally at Artesia|
|Wrought iron detail on the old carriage|
|This big top space contained a Centenary of Labour display|
|Postal worker display|
|Emergency Services mural|
|Women's electoral and equal pay display|
|Blade shearers from the 1890s|
While at Barcaldine we stayed for two nights at a free camp 15 kilometres out of town at Lloyd-Jones Weir. This free camp has toilet facilities, with a generous amount of toilet paper supplied, and is maintained by the local council, and a gold coin donation is requested. There are people there who stay for months and are well entrenched. Unfortunately the weather deteriorated into rain, so creative solutions were called for to cook a barbecue, and keep warm. Never before have we lit a fire under a tarp – only a small one – and had a warm and pleasant night by the campfire while it rained.
|Our campfire and barbecue under a blue canopy|
|They take toilet roll theft very seriously at Lloyd-Jones Weir|
|One of the natives surveying his food domain|
|Alcohol - the new anaphylactic treatment|
From Barcaldine we head towards Mackay, not sure yet where we will end up staying.