We set off from camp after a long leisurely breakfast and discovered that we couldn’t access the track that leads to the site of the 1927 Qantas plane crash as the bridge across the Barcoo is being replaced and the whole section of road including access to the walking track to the crash site is blocked off. Oh well. Have to do that one if we ever come this way again.
We filled up with fuel and then spent an hour or so exploring the little Main Street of Tambo. Tambo is famous for its Tambo Teddies. This is a local success story. Tambo Teddies was born in 1993 when three local ladies decided to assist the ailing wool industry, encourage tourists and create employment by making teddy bears from wool pelts and stuffing them with wool. Tambo Teddies took off. The teddies were a big hit. The last of the three ladies retired in 2014 and sold the business to two other local ladies and these two are continuing the tradition of Tambo Teddies.
Every teddy sold is unique, has their own personality and they are all named after Tambo farming properties. Each teddy has its own name and number. Tambo Teddys were gifted to the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke & Duchess of Sussex during their 2014 and 2018 royal tours.
In the Main Street is a building housing ‘Flo’ a restored Dennis Fire Engine built in Surrey in 1921. Flo was once part of the Tambo Fire Brigade however she was notoriously unreliable and difficult to start. Rumour has it that she was so slow to start that before she even arrived at a fire on Albert Street the fire was already out.
The historic Post Office built in 1876 is now the town museum. On the other side of the road is the new Post Office built in 1904.
The Historic Court House built in 1888 is now the town Library and Visitors Centre.
This little town has two caravan parks as well as the free camp on the Barcoo River where we camped last night. They are obviously doing everything they can to attract visitors to the town and it was working. We saw many RV’s pulled up and lots of visitors walking along the Main Street checking out the shops, buying a teddy or two, having a coffee, buying fuel and all adding to the town’s economy.
The road between Tambo and Blackall is a wide two lane tar road but it’s a rough one. It’s a road train route and these heavy vehicles really are hard on road surfaces. The motorhome shook and bounced over this rough road. We crossed the Barcoo River again and this time there was a little muddy water in it. We didn’t see many animals on this part of the road just a few mobs of cattle. What we did see was lots of RV’s of all descriptions. Every man and his dog must be travelling the Outback!
We arrived in Blackall around 11.30am and had to stop and take photos of their fabulous signs at the entry to the town. The town name is spelt out in very large single black letters on a background of images. The images include local people, buildings, local activities and flora and fauna of the area. They are fabulous!
Our next stop was just out of town to visit the Historic Woolscour. We timed it just right to catch the tour which runs on the hour every day. The tour commences with a short video on the wool industry, how it began, developed, waned and what the industry is like today. It was a very informative 15 minute movie. Then the group moved outside to be taken on a tour of the actual Woolscour building. Our guide for the our tour was a man named Darryl Dash and we were fortunate to have Dashy as he left school at 13 on a Friday and the following Monday commenced work at the Woolscour. He knows the place inside out.
We drove the 4km back into town and visited the statue of the famous Jackie Howe, gun shearer. Jackie is famous for blade shearing 321 sheep in one 8 hour day in 1892 at ‘Alice Downs’. Jackie retired from shearing at 39 and became a publican of the Universal Hotel in Blackall. A replica of the Universal Hotel is now the Visitors Centre. Jackie’s statue is out the front.
The township has a low cost campground on the banks of the Barcoo and when we stopped for a lunch break we were amazed at the number of campers. We counted at least 50 RV’s of all types set up and it was only lunchtime. More would arrive in the afternoon. To camp at this spot you purchase a permit at the Visitors Centre and it costs $10 per vehicle per night.
We left Blackall and continued heading northwards for another 78km and then turned off towards Lara Wetlands Campground. The road in to Lara is a dirt one and it was quite corrugated in places. It’s only 13km but it took us 1/2 an hour to travel in to the main entrance. What a surprise it is to arrive. To get there you travel through very dry red sandy scrub and all of a sudden you are greeted by this large body of water teeming with bird life. It’s magic. The roughly circular wetlands has been landscaped in such a way that it all looks natural. The area was originally a natural depression so it didn’t take much imagination to enlarge it. There is an access road all around the wetlands and campsites all the way around as well.
We booked in for one night (although I suspect we’ll stay for two) and set off around the water to find a camp site. We managed to find a water side spot with a fire drum and quickly set up camp. We met the neighbours on either side of us and the four of them later joined us around the campfire.
Geoff and Chris on one side were from Lakes Entrance and they are on their way home after traveling to Darwin and back. Paul and Janine are on the other side and they are from the Sunshine Coast. They were all interested to hear we are going to the Big Red Bash and thought it sounded fun. We enjoyed a lovely convivial evening around the fire. Paul even shared his homemade vegetable pizza! It was delicious.
We’d booked in to do the Homestead Tour in the morning, then we planned to use the Thermal Pool and I was hoping to get my kayak out for a paddle on the Wetlands. I really think we’ll be here two nights!