Off to Blackall

We left the little town of Isisford and the riverside camp spot that we had so loved and headed for Blackall.

We are certain we will return here again one day.

As soon as we were 100 metres from Isisford the vast empty country side once again wrapped around us.

It is only 120 km from Isisford to Blackall but in the first 80 km we only saw three properties, Isis Downs, Thornleigh and Gowan Downs.

Isis Downs Station is not far from Isisford and was once a sprawling sheep station of over 200,000 hectares boasting the largest shearing shed in the world.

The shed was open the public but is now closed until it can be reopened with all the health and safety paraphernalia fulfilled. The shed is leased by Hans the owner of Clancy’s pub in Isisford and he hopes to run bus tours out there from Isisford when he has all the government requirements in place.

Isis Downs Station's shearing shed reputed to be the largest in the world.

Isis Downs Station's shearing shed reputed to be the largest in the world.

Isis Downs was reduced to 1,277 square kilometres after post war land resumptions and is now owned by Consolidated Pastoral and runs only cattle.

As we got within 40 km from Blackall a few more properties appeared signalling our pending arrival at the town.

We decided to stay the night in a van park and spoil ourselves to unlimited power, (enabling us to use the air con and watch a movie on the media player), and unlimited water. This is only the 4th night in a van park in 4 weeks so we’re quite excited.

We walked up to the town after parking in the Van Park and on the way came across this statue which we thought was quite striking.

It depicts Edgar Towner who was a farm hand from Blackall and was awarded the Victoria Cross in the First World War.

This remarkable statue captures the image of the farm boy about to exchange his clothing for an army uniform and leave the beloved bush to fight and perhaps never return.

This remarkable statue captures the image of the farm boy about to exchange his clothing for an army uniform and leave the beloved bush to fight and perhaps never return.

A lieutenant in the Australian Imperial Force during the First World War, Towner was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1918 for his actions during an attack on Mont St. Quentin on the Western Front.

Leiutenant (later Major) Edgar Towner - most decorated Australian born soldier and Victoria Cross recipient.

Leiutenant (later Major) Edgar Towner - most decorated Australian born soldier and Victoria Cross recipient.

On the night of 10/11 June 1918, Towner was in command of a machine gun section during an attack to the south of Morlancourt, (France). One of the first to reach the objective, he deployed his section and got its guns into action “very quickly”. By using captured German machine guns he was able to increase his section’s fire and provide support to the company on his right as it advanced, seized, and consolidated its position. During the morning of 11 June, one of the posts held by the Australian infantry was blown in by German artillery; braving machine gun and sniper fire, Towner went out in daylight to help reorganise the post. He was cited for his “cheerful and untiring attitude” and for “setting a conspicuous example”. In September, again commanding a machine gun section, he was involved in the Allied counteroffensive that broke the German lines at Mont St. Quentin and Péronne. Fighting for thirty hours after being wounded, his “conspicuous bravery, initiative and devotion to duty” earned him the Victoria Cross, which was presented by King George V in April 1919. Towner was also awarded the Military Cross for his actions. He remains the most decorated Queensland-born soldier.

We found the water supply in Blackall interesting. It comes directly from the Great Artesian Basin under its own pressure. We wrote about the Basin here.

It’s hot and smells of sulphur until after it is cooled and has sat for a short while.

It’s the purest water in Australia with no contaminates or chemicals of any kind. It’s bottled and sold around the world.

This abundant supply of pure water probably explains why Blackall has a large number of green lawns and lush private gardens even though the surrounding country is very dry.
There must also be a high level of personal pride contributing to this as well as great gardens don’t just appear because water is available.

(From Kerrie)

Blackall and it’s artesian water…I know I’m a city girl but I found this amazing.

It comes straight out of the tap at 58 deg.

Now the Brisbane council has set the regulation temp of your hot water system to 60 deg. (We know this because Barry & Christine had a new hot water system and they were not allowed to get it any hotter when the electrician installed it.)

So you don’t need a hot water system here. Take that off your electricity bill.

What they have to do is cool their water. They have tanks to collect the artesian water then allow it to cool before it comes back to the cold water tap.

I found this all out after connecting the hose to the caravan and making HOT cordial. I know I’m not quick, so not yet learning anything,
I go for a shower (in the van of course, all my stuff is there). Turn on the tap and the only option I have is hot water or really hot water from our now heated hot water system. I’ve had plenty of cold showers over the years but never had to rinse my soapy hair with hot water.

I did think of Lacey and Christine who both love long showers to wash their hair. Apart from the initial smell no one would ever yell at you to get out of the shower and it would never go cold.

Now after reading all about the water I saw they had a Aquatic centre with a massaging artesian spa, off I went. Walking down the street everyone has a sprinkler going all day. The yards are beautiful and green and the colours of the bougainvillea are spectacular. Some of the sprinklers are on the footpath. You brace yourself to walk through them waiting for the usual chill of the water and quickly  realise that it’s hot. No running through the sprinkler for these kids.

The aquatic centre (cost $2.50 adult) has a spa with straight artesian water, nice and hot with bubbles. That then overflows into the baby pool, shallow and warm. It also overflows into the 50m pool. They have fountain guns around the entry of the pool, the ones kids can aim at each other. These are shooting cold water. Thank goodness as swimming a couple of lengths you need to cool down under these.

I went home relaxed and for the first time in a month with really clean feet and nails. But I have learnt my lesson now and when I went for a shower I used the amenity block with cold water.

(Back to Chris)

Blackall is the place where sits the famed “Black Stump”, as in the old saying, “Beyond the Black Stump” or “…This side of the Black Stump”.

The Black Stump - Painting shows how it was used in 1886 to set surveyor's theodoplites which enable accurate surveying of the State.

The Black Stump - Painting shows how it was used in 1886 to set surveyor's theodoplites which enable accurate surveying of the State

Like most places the stop at Blackall and the surrounding area has a rich history that we would love to explore more and maybe will one day.

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