Off the Tourist Trail #1 - Thargomindah, Outback Queensland
Conveniently located between Eulo and Nockatunga, Thargomindah isn't really on the tourist trail as an end destination – but our 4 day stopover in 2009 showed us there's more to this town than meets the eye …
The Bulloo River crossing at the town's eastern entrance made our arrival unexpectedly interesting, giving us the opportunity to test our camper trailers ability to withstand 30+cm (12+”) of flood waters over the causeway, as shown in the photo at left.
Successful? HHHMMMmmm... the floors needed cleaning anyway!! And 24 hours later, the flood had receded completely as seen at right! Bummer!!
The town relies on a 'Flood Truck', modified so it can cross the river when in flood to bring in supplies. Yep, Thargomindah is in a pretty remote area!
Thargomindah is proud to be the third town in the world (YES, the WORLD!) to have hydroelectric street lighting, and the tour of the hot Artesian bore gives all the details (not to mention some amazing sunset photo opportunities). I'm not sure if Paris and London are even aware of Thargomindah's achievement, but the national flags of each of the three cities are flown as a reminder of its place in history.
The manager of the Explorer Caravan Park where we stayed told us that rain often passes the town by, but falls further north in the catchment area causing the river to flood. The amount of water laying about in the street made us think it rained pretty often – but that's from having sprinklers and hoses running 24/7 to ensure a ready supply of hot water from the bore! Once modifications are completed this won't happen, but until then it's pretty bizarre to see green lawns and gardens in the middle of the outback.
The bore is critical to the town's survival in more ways than one. The tour guide pointed out the bristles in the pool below the outlet – dead pigs are sometimes left in the hot water overnight to cook them and facilitate skinning! SOOO devastated we didn't see this for ourselves!!
The Visitor Information Centre in the old hospital is well worth a visit for the historical museum and other town attractions including the dodgy Cobb & Co crossing below the Bulloo River bridge, the river walk and town heritage trail.
Nearby Lake Bindegolly was completely dry on our visit in 2009 making birdwatching a bit pointless as we trudged the dusty wasteland – but a year has made all the difference with reports it's now full! Keen birdwatchers will also be aware that 'Big Twitch' author Sean Dooley sighted Painted Honeyeater in Thargomindah, and Grey Grasswren nearby, albeit in circumstances we were disinclined to replicate. Maybe another time ...
One local told us a town's unemployment rate could be gauged by visiting the pub during the day – fewer visitors means higher employment levels! What with the many kilometres of shire roads to be maintained and a plethora of mining exploration, there's virtually no unemployment.
While life in Thargomindah may be challenging (the nearest coffee shop is 2½ hours away and temperatures skyrocket for much of the year), it's a fascinating and unique place to visit!
Unlike the photo above - which is not unique at all! In fact it's a rather archetypal outback/windmill/sunset shot, even if it is a pretty damn fine one!