Charleville

Charleville is an iconic outback township in western Queensland.

Location: 750 km from Brisbane; 300 m above sea-level on the banks of the Warrego River.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service

The Southern Queensland base of the Royal Flying Doctor Service is located on the Old Cunnamulla Road to the east of town. It is open for inspection from 8.00 am - 4.00 pm daily.

While most other Flying Doctor bases tend to show videos on the workings of the service the Charleville office is proud of the fact that visitors are taken through a working operation. There is no charge, although donations are appreciated.

The School of Distance Education

Voluntary contributions are also appreciated next door at the School of Distance Education (previously known as the School of the Air). It is open from 8.30 am - 3.30 pm and the principal recommends a morning visit as that is when classes are held with the youngest pupils. There is a viewing area beside the studio where visitors can listen in on the lessons. The school includes students from as far afield as Fraser Island in the east to Hungerford in the south-west. An excellent information book outlining its functions and educational techniques is available.

Historical House

The town's 'Historical House', located in Alfred Street at the northern end of town, is particularly interesting. It was built in 1881 as the local branch of the Queensland National Bank with the teller's area, the safe and the manager's office at the front and accommodation for the manager's family, including the maid's quarters, at the back. The historical society have preserved the original functions and filled each room with appropriate pieces of furniture and memorabilia. A book on the shire's history, entitled Murweh Shire: 100 Years of Local Government 1880-1980, is available.

Steiger Gun

To the south of town (on the western side of the road, in front of the scout hall) is the Steiger Gun. This bizarre piece of Western Queensland history is captioned: 'Steiger Vortex Rainmaker Gun. One of ten guns used by the Queensland Government Meteorologist Prof. Clement Wragge at Charleville, September 26 1902.' It was a vain attempt to induce a deluge and thus break the drought which had been going on since 1896.

Wragge's novel approach was to send blasts of air into the atmosphere. He persuaded the authorities in Brisbane to build Steiger guns which he duly placed around Charleville. They were all filled with gunpowder and ignited. Nothing happened. That night Wragge addressed a group of local citizens in Aeschimann's Hall in Charleville and, so rumour has it, was greeted with considerable scepticism and derision. He left town the next day.


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Fauna Display

The Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service office on Park St has a bird aviary and fauna display, including several species of endangered wallabies and bilbies. It is open on weekdays from 8.30 am - 4.30 pm.

Origin of name

Most people expect the town's name to have some quirky connection to an eccentric bushman of old, but such is not the case. In 1868 William Alcock Tully (1830-1905), the Queensland Under-Secretary for Public Lands and Chief Commissioner for Crown Lands, surveyed the town and named it after his boyhood home in County Cork, Ireland, near the boundary of County Limerick, currently (1995) known as Rath Luirc. The name originally came from France.

Brief history

The region was first explored by Edmund Kennedy during his 1847 journey. During this expedition Kennedy passed within 10 km of the present site of Charleville. By 1866 a pub and other buildings had been erected and the nucleus of the town had been formed. Before the railway came in 1888, as many as 500 bullock teams a day would pass through Charleville, carrying woolclip to the railhead at Roma. It was also on a major stock route. In 1920, the first regular Qantas service took off from Charleville bound for Cloncurry. Today, it retains its transport links, being home to the southern Qld base of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the School of Distance Education.

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