Words and Images by Danielle Lancaster
I’m back out in Mulga country and it’s a good feeling.
For those that may not know for the next few days my home away from home is Charleville, approximate 744 kilometres west of Brisbane. It’s not the first time I have been here.
My main focus for coming to Charleville is for a two day Bluedog Photography Workshop we are running over the weekend. The workshops were fully booked out in less than two days of places being opened and there is a long wait list so we could be back. I can tell you it would not take much to get me back out here.
Over my years as a photo journalist I have worked with many in and around this vibrant outback community and made some great friends. I have watched as attractions have been opened and developed and now form part of a pulsating and educational experience for those that visit the region.
To name a few as examples would include the Bilby Experience of which my children and I became very involved in and we still support The Bilby Fund today. For those looking at accommodation, Evening Star Tourist Park where you can park the van, pitch the tent or rent a cabin on the historic Thurlby Station, a 33,000 acre cattle property only a few kilometres out of town is well worth looking at. While the School of Distance Education Tour (for the costly sum of $2.00) allows you to be part of the largest school room in the world.
However my day today was filled with a little drive to visit a little pub and photograph it for one of our upcoming books. I hit the road nice and early with another keen local photographer and yes she is a Nikon girl.
With the early morning sun rising behind us we headed straight west through Cooladi and onto Quilpie where we made a left turn to Toompine. Never heard of it? That’s Ok as Toompine is often more referred to as ‘the pub without a town’.
The Toompine Hotel
Located between Quilpie and Yowah, it was once a larger town than the one you see today. The wheels of Cobb and Co coaches once stopped here when the track was much shoddier than the one we drove along today. And I must say it’s incredibly improved since the last time I drove this road – our wheels glided over bitumen all the way and any conventional vehicle could make this journey in dry weather with only a few flood causeways that may cause a problem in the wet.
Back to the pub and the designated township that boasts a population of two. The pub, built in 1893 has a very unique atmosphere and call in when any of the locals are at the bar and you are in for a yarn and plenty of stories to take home with you.
Jonesy who runs the pub tells us she’s been here for six and a half years and after a cold water to quench our thirst we hear her saying ‘you get out.’ Thankfully her eye contact was not with us and on turning we see a sheep at the front door that apologetically bahs back at her and lies down. Yes right at the front door. Jonesy’s attention comes back to us, ‘She’s one struck up bloody sheep but I have another 2000 normal ones out the back’.
Across the road from the pub there’s a tennis court, basketball and cricket pitch set on the red sandy soil. There’s excellent fishing and yabbying not far from the pub; the local 'cemetery' (check out the sign) is just one kilometre down the road and where unfortunatly more children are buried than adults; boulder opal fossicking at Duck Creek and Sheep Creek Station Opal Mines – perfect for the ‘rock hounds’ but don’t forget you will need a permit.
The pub has meals available day and night – we treated ourselves to a homemade chicken pie and it was very good. Free camping and a shower and cheap rooms are available.
Good on you Jonesy, you have one of the best taxis I’ve had a ride in for a while – glad the bowser was close by and we look forward to calling in again very soon.
Jonesy and toompine Taxi.
As we are leaving the mailman calls in - a very welcome visitor. He grabs a coldie for the road and pulls up for a chat and then proudly shows me his scarred stomach from being shot (apparently not accidently) and that then explains his tattoo '303'.
So if you are out this way, call on in. It’s worth a tick on the list.