A medium sized outback town famous for its role in one of the more
significant events in the political life of Australia: the shearers'
strike of 1891, which played an important role in the events which led
to the formation of the Australian Labor Party.
Where is it?: Barcaldine is 1080 km north-west Brisbane at the junction
of the Capricorn and Matilda (Landsborough) Highways.
The town is situated on Lagoon Creek, which flows into the Alice River
approximately five kilometres south of the Barcaldine. It is the
administrative centre of the Barcaldine region. Major industries are
sheep and beef cattle rearing.
Things to see and do
The landmark Tree of Knowledge, an imposing ghost gum under which
the strikeing shearers met, stood outside the railway station. The is
in the town's main street. It was here that the strikers sang Henry
Lawson's great poem 'Freedom on the Wallaby'. In 2006, persons unknown
poisoned the tree with the herbicide Roundup, which led to its demise.
The tree's location is marked today with a giant memorial.
Barcaldine is home to the old world Radio Theatre, complete with its
canvas seats. The Radio Theatre was opened in 1926 and since then has
played a significant role in the town's arts, entertainment and culture.
The Australian Workers Heritage Centre is a national project
commemorating not just these events, which changed the course of the
nation's working history, but is a tribute to all Australian working
men and women. Set in over five acres of landscaped gardens, it is also
home to the Wanpa-rda Matilda Outback Education Centre - a unique
residential facility for schools and community groups.
Barcaldine and District Folk Museum, like many of the museums in
western Queensland, is full of memorabilia collected from locals,
including a rare Edison gramophone dating from 1900, some barbed wire
from the 1870s and a 1923 ticket issued by Qantas.
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The first European to pass through the Barcaldine area was Sir
Thomas Mitchell who arrived after good rains and proceeded to sing the
praises of the area, describing it as 'the finest region I have seen in
Australia' . The locals, who know only too well how dry and harsh the
area around Barcaldine can become, look upon Mitchell's analysis with
bemusement. Mitchell's enthusiasm encouraged Donald Cameron to overland
sheep from the New England area and establish Barcaldine Station. The
town was established in 1886 when it became the western terminus for
the railway from Rockhampton.
The town's name originated 1863 when Donald Charles Cameron
overlanded sheep from the New England area of NSW and settled on a
64-km frontage along the Alice River which he named Barcaldine Station
after his family's property in Argyllshire, Scotland.