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Charleville - The Real Outback

The Kangaroos are Plentiful in Charleville
The Kangaroos are Plentiful in Charleville
The beauty of Queensland is its diversity, and one fantastic way to experience this is to head west towards the red heart of Australia to the largest town in the southern central outback. The journey from Brisbane to Charleville is well travelled, rich in history and abundant in natural attractions. Located 750km west from Brisbane, via the garden city of Toowoomba, this is the perfect destination for an outback campervan hire holiday.

Having lived in Roma for a number of years, my outback experience was more than I expected. The magnificent sunsets, night skies sprayed with millions of stars and vast open spaces that pan for miles on end are just some of the highlights. Weather conditions vary, so come prepared with lots of woollens as temperatures drop at night especially in the winter months, and bring sunscreen and hats as temperatures soar in hot summer days. However, most days especially in Spring and Autumn bring pleasant warm days.

The drive from Brisbane takes about six hours to Roma, and then another three hours to Charleville. This can be undertaken in one day, but be careful at dusk as kangaroos jump out of nowhere. You might want to drive straight through or visit some of the delightful towns on the way such as Toowoomba, Dalby, Chinchilla and Roma. It is better to take your time and enjoy the richness each town has to offer. Maybe stop for a night and take in the colours of dusk and dawn, and enjoy a campfire under the stars.

The people are the greatest commodity of the outback, and Charleville is home to many of them. What impressed me the most was the friendliness and ease you feel when getting to know the locals who always seem to have enough time for a chat, especially at smoko when the town grinds to a sudden halt for their coffee break. They are a hardy lot, having battled many droughts and floods, but for the four thousand or so locals, community is everything. Water is the other precious resource out here, also needed to keep the thousands of sheep and cattle alive in the stations surrounding Charleville.

When you arrive you will need to set up your campervan hire Queensland so the main choices are the Bailey Bar Caravan Park, in the heart of Chinchilla, also close to the new Cosmos Centre, and Cobb and Co Caravan Park on Ridgeway Street, set in bushland and within walking distance of town. Then stroll down to the centre of town and get to know your neighbours.

There is so much to do here, with the famous Warrego River always a great place to explore. Keen fishermen and amateurs alike will love the yellowbelly, perch and murray cod which go well with a crackling camp fire. 10 Mile is a common meeting place for locals, located a few minutes north of town. There is a cosy camping ground here, the perfect location for a picnic and relaxing snooze. The further you go from here, the better the fishing and star gazing! The Warrego Highway (also known as Augathella Road) offers one of the best kept secrets in the west, with plentiful fishing spots along the river and beautiful scenery.

Historical House is worth a visit, with plenty of historical memorabilia and artefacts giving you a better look at Charleville in the last century. Another is the 'Steiger Gun', located on the south side of town. It is one of the ten guns used in an attempt to break a century old drought, and has a quirky story attached to it. The invention never worked, but the gun still remains as a Charleville icon.

Charleville is also home to the Queensland Royal Flying Doctor Service as well as the School of Distance Education. There are countless remote properties being helped in many ways by these services, such a different way of life to us suburban dwellers.

One of the biggest drawcards to date is the Cosmos Centre, offering an interactive tour of the sky at night as well as presentations and interactive displays by day. There are plenty of indescribable views of the heavens here for all the family. Charleville is the perfect location for this incredible observatory, as the lack of pollution makes it ideal to view the starry night sky with clear vision. Allow just over an hour to enjoy the heavens through the Meade telescope, which will give you an even better appreciation of the outback sky.

Charleville needs to be experienced to be truly understood. You just need to get out there into the Queensland outback and see it for yourself. Why wait any longer to begin your next Campervan holiday?

Jenny Brewer


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