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
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.
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
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.
View Larger Map
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 -
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.
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.