Clearly the local men have found an alternative means to satisfy their thirst. Blackall’s 100 people share 3 pubs, Winton’s 980 good folk have 4 pubs!! And, Barcaldine wins with 1600 people and 5 pubs – until recently it had 6, and but a few years ago it had 7.
5 pubs within a football field length of the main street -
We were lucky enough to spend the Mayday weekend in Barcaldine (Barky). A community BBQ and foodfest on the first night was accompanied by a “Rev Fest” where ‘enhanced’ cars mostly of the 1970s (or earlier) paraded and then parked for inspection. Nostalgia ran rampant in many minds.
Earlier in the day, the local Rugby League comp featured the Barcaldine Sand Goannas against the Augathella Meat Ants – Barky won. Up here, the teams have far more innovative names than those in the big cities.
Monday was May day and the town had a street parade where I’m sure that the entire population, plus enough visitors to ensure that all motels, hotels, and caravan parks were full, turned out to watch. What a show of community spirit and effort it was. Every kid in town got into the show, including a mum who had converted a pram (with cardboard and imagination) into a simple parade float.
One very proud kid
One very big float
As a finale’ we donned our best outfits and attended the local races. We were not too sure what the dress code would be for such an occasion, so Shirl wore shoes rather than thongs, and I decided to go for my dressy black thongs and a shirt with all the buttons done up.
The race card showed 11 races, so a very busy day was planned. When we got there we discovered a buzz around the arena that “More Faster’s” track record may be under threat. This proved an accurate tip as in winning the Grand Final, Patches O’Halleran smashed the old record.
Note the unusual jockey style - grab the goat's tail and pull like mad.
Patches O'Halleran wins.
By the Tuesday we knew that we had to move on – the hectic social life can only go on for so long before the body cries ‘enough!’.
In 1895 a young bloke by the name of Andrew Barton (Banjo) Patterson was visiting his sweetheart at the Dagworth station near Winton, when he heard a rendition of an old Scottish refrain. He was quite taken by the melody, and a few days later when he heard a story of sheep thief he put quill to parchment (I think I may have exaggerated that last bit).
Thus Waltzing Matilda was born.
The following week when the family were visiting Winton and staying at the North Gregory Hotel, Banjo was asked to sing the new song. Thus this pub was where the first public performance of Waltzing Matilda.
Whilst the pub still exists in name, the original building plus the later 2 were each consumed by flames. The current incarnation has another important piece of history. After the previous building burnt in 1946, the rubble remained as an eyesore until the town people lobbied the local council to do something – eventually the council themselves built the pub and thus became the first council in Australia to own and operate an hotel. Please note the change in my narrative from “Pub” to “Hotel” – a government council couldn’t own a simple grog shop, it had to be much further up the tower of elegance and so it was. It was sold into private hands in the late 80s after 32 years of council ownership, and while the elegance may be little tarnished, it remains a fine hotel.
Nash, visiting the North Gregory
Winton also lays claim to one of the most unique musical instruments in the World. I know, that’s a very big boast, but where else has a musical fence. It really works. Each strand of the fence is tensioned differently and when a stick is used to hit or stroke the wires, music erupts forth. The percussion section is crafted from a range of ........... well, junk.
And the BEAT GOES ON!
I think this is the String section?
Winton Picture Theatre - Doesn't do any daytime screenings.
Note the 'Trailers' behind - The first passenger road train?
We spotted this at the local truck museum, and wondered about trading in the Landcruiser.
After two nights at Winton, we headed off to Boulia via the 360 km single sealed lane road. For those that don’t know about these roads, there is but a single 3 metre wide strip of bitumen and when another vehicle approaches, the most manoeuvrable pulls over onto the dirt verge. Everyone yields to road trains!
One of the more scenic pieces on the Boulia Rd (its only 3 metres wide)