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Cloncurry’s ‘friendly outback spirit’ charms visitors every time
9th April 2020
In stark contrast to the rich black-soil Downs Country to the east, the broken ranges around Cloncurry rise in craggy outcrops adorned in spinifex crowns and ochre-red dust. The flamboyant mix of colours means you’ll want to keep your camera close!
Beautiful and Friendly!
Being dubbed “the friendliest town in Queensland” in 2013 and 2018 respectively, one of the first things you’ll notice as you explore the town is the beautiful Cloncurry River, named by legendary explorer, Robert Burke of the Burke and Wills expedition (1861) after his cousin, Lady Elizabeth Cloncurry of County Galway, Ireland.
The origin-place of lasting legacies
This mineral rich-town was the birthplace of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and home to the very first QANTAS Airlines hanger. Iconic Bush Clergyman Mr John Flynn and his team of hardworking volunteers were responsible for the birth of the RFDS, an essential medical service still supporting outback Australia to this day. Flynn witnessed the daily struggle of pioneers living in remote areas and developed a vision to provide a ‘mantle of safety’ for the people of the bush.
The impact lives on
The Cloncurry John Flynn Museum and Art Gallery gives credit to Flynn and his outstanding vision for rural Australia. As Flynn reportedly once said, “If you start something worthwhile – nothing can stop it.” This simple truth is evidenced by the RFDS today, 90 years on.
The Curry Challenge!
‘The Curry’ as the town is affectionately known by the locals, also hosts one of the finest horsemanship events in the nation. Every year, The Cloncurry Stockmen’s Challenge attracts talent from all over Australia to vie for the top honours in endeavours of horsemanship. Whether you’re a horsey type or not, this uniquely outback-flavoured event, combined with the friendly locals and well-stocked bar, is always worth a visit.
Making musters merry!
While you are this far west, you’ll also want to put the Cloncurry Merry Muster Festival on your list. Held in the first weekend in August, this festival attracts over 400 rodeo competitors battling it out in an arena of action and adrenaline, in what is touted as Australia’s highest, single pay-out professional rodeo. While there you will also enjoy live music, picnics, a street parade, bush poetry, and weekend-round entertainment.
If you’d prefer to avoid the crowds and enjoy a more laid back pace, check out the Cloncurry Unearthed Visitor Information Centre and Museum. Here you’ll find displays on Burke and Wills, the abandoned Mary Kathleen Mine, and information about Ernest Henry, the founder of Cloncurry and the mine of his namesake, responsible for the great mineral wealth of the district.
You’ll also marvel over the amazing collection of memorabilia including one of Australia’s most comprehensive gem and mineral collections. If you have a penchant for unearthing new gemstones, be sure to pick up your Fossicking License here as well!
Machinery, traction and engines – oh my!
In the grounds around Cloncurry Unearthed, you’ll discover displays of mining and pastoral machinery, including traction engines, and a unique 1940s Ford rail ambulance. You can also catch the breeze on the lush green lawn of the shaded parklands, or take the short walk to a well-placed lookout behind the centre, which provides a stunning 360degree panorama of the town and countryside.
And one for the connoisseurs …
If you are a cultural connoisseur also check out the Fred Mackay art gallery at the John Flynn Museum for inspiration, along with the amazing collection of works at the Dr David Harvey Sutton Art Gallery on Scarr St. For living artworks, make your way out to Chinamen Creek Dam for a breathtaking sunset, or head to the Cloncurry Lookout, on the drive to the Chinaman Creek Dam, for another panoramic view of the township, the verdant Cloncurry River, and the incredible water tank artwork of a proud Mitakoodi child. There is nothing quite like an uninterrupted view of a western hued horizon, and better yet, you don’t have to battle with Bondi Beach crowds to have it all to yourself!