Black­all’s coun­try charm

Alan Bet­teridge goes tour­ing the Aussie Out­back and dis­cov­ers Black­all

Isis Town and Country - - Life -

Most houses do not have a hot wa­ter sys­tem. In­stead most have a wa­ter cool­ing sys­tem!

T HERE is some­thing about the Aus­tralian Out­back that ap­peals to the av­er­age Aussie’s sense of be­long­ing – even if they have never been there.

There is no doubt that even in the grip of one of the worst droughts in liv­ing mem­ory, the Out­back gives you a feel­ing of be­long­ing.

Black­all is si­t­u­ated on the Lands­bor­ough (or Matilda Way as it is now be­com­ing known) High­way, about mid­way be­tween Charleville and Lon­greach, some 1000km north-west of Bris­bane.

The area around Black­all was ex­plored by Ma­jor Thomas Mitchell in 1846.

It was Mitchell who named the river that flows past the town the Vic­to­ria River, but this was sub­se­quently changed to the more dis­tinc­tive Bar­coo, an abo­rig­i­nal name mean­ing “ice on wa­ter”.

The town­ship was sur­veyed in 1868, al­though a small town­ship al­ready ex­isted some 6km east of present-day Black­all. It was named af­ter Queens­land’s se­cond gov­er­nor, Sir Sa­muel Black­all.

There is no doubt that the town­ship owes its ex­is­tence to the Great Arte­sian Bore, which sup­plies the wa­ter.

The first bore, aptly named Pi­o­neer Bore, was drilled in 1885 to a depth of 800m.

The bore, along with a replica of the drilling rig typ­i­cal of the time, can be seen at the end of Clema­tis St, a short dis­tance from Sham­rock St.

The town’s wa­ter sup­ply now comes from a se­ries of three bores that were sunk in 1994 and are retic­u­lated di­rectly into the town’s sup­ply.

The tem­per­a­ture of the wa­ter when it reaches the sur­face is about 60 de­grees.

Black­all, like much of Aus­tralia, was built on the backs of sheep, and the town owes much of its his­tory to them and the in­dus­try that grew around them.

Black­all was the town that leg­endary shearer Jack Howe called home.

In 1892, Howe sheared a record of 321 sheep in 7 hours, 40 min­utes, with blade shears, a record that re­mains to this day.

Black­all has an­other, less for­tu­nate, claim to fame. It has the du­bi­ous hon­our of be­ing the town that be­came known as the town that killed Santa.

In times past, it was a tra­di­tion in the town to have “Santa” hang off the back of the fire truck and throw sweets to the chil­dren who would line the street for the Christ­mas pa­rade.

This fate­ful year the per­son who nor­mally played this part was un­avail­able, so a shearer was called upon to take the role.

Un­for­tu­nately he had par­taken of the lo­cal ho­tel’s hos­pi­tal­ity, caus­ing him to fall from the truck and strike his head, which led to his un­timely demise.

As can be imag­ined, this was the cause of ma­jor con­cern for many of the chil­dren, who be­lieved there would be no presents that year.

There is so much to see and do in Black­all that you could eas­ily spend a week to take it all in.

OUT­BACK ART: An ea­gle with her nest stands watch over the Bar­coo River – one of many sculp­tures scat­tered around the town.

The Black­all Vis­i­tor In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre is lo­cated in the old rail­way sta­tion build­ing in Ram Park.

RECORD-HOLDER: A statue was erected in Black­all to ac­knowl­edge leg­endary shearer Jack Howe.

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