Cunnamulla

Cunnamulla originated as a settlement in the 1860’s at the intersection of two major stock routes, one running from east to west from St George to Thargomindah and the other north to south from Charleville to Bourke.

The name of the town is derived from an Aboriginal term meaning “long stretch of water” referring to the Warrego River, which passes through the town.

Cunnamulla Aboriginal Art and Culture

All over the globe people express a fascination with the oldest culture in the world.  More than five tribes of Aboriginal people call Cunnamulla home.

Cunnamulla the Adventure

The adventure begins in Cunnamulla the outback Queensland town perfectly located on the crossroads of two major highways between Sydney and Cairns and Brisbane and South Australia.

Vast distances can be travelled in every direction with a choice of remote and rugged terrain or sealed bitumen roads to make this a true adventure of a lifetime.

With everything imaginable on offer to explore and discover the real Australian Outback you simply must include this fascinating destination “Cunnamulla” in your itinerary.

Once you arrive all the attractions and adventure is at your doorstep or only a short drive away.  There are many day and extended tour options on offer throughout the area suitable for all types of travel and travellers.

Cunnamulla Art and Culture

Cunnamulla boasts a strong art and cultural scene that reflects both the diversity and talent of the local people.  To really discover Cunnamulla’s art and cultural scene you need to immerse yourself in the local galleries, annual festivals and sit down one on one with the locals and artist’s to talk about what makes them tick.  Take the time to discover the history in the area and you will be fascinated by what’s on offer.

Cunnamulla Authors/Books/Writers

For a small town we have a number of well read authors with some fascinating reading material on offer.  As you will see if you read some of their published works the authors are mostly inspired from their life experiences in the Australian Outback around the Cunnamulla, Eulo, Yowah districts.  The history of the Aboriginal people and the pioneering early settlers are also big influences along with the vast landscapes and some of the harshness faced by living in these remote areas.

Cunnamulla Fella

Sitting proudly on his swag on the former site of the Great Western Hotel the two and a half times life size bronze is nothing short of magnificent.  The original artwork was produced by Michael Nicholas in an Australia wide search for the artwork that depicted the “Cunnamulla Fella” based on the lyrics of the song written by Stan Coster and put to music by Slim Dusty.  Archie Sinclair a sculpture originally from the Northern Territory won the bid to transform the artwork to a bronze statue.  While some may argue he is a bit young, he should be Aboriginal or there should be a dog beside him, there is no taking away his rugged personality which reflects the true soul of the Australian Outback.

Cunnamulla History

Cunnamulla History….Live Australia’s Story

Cunnamulla was settled in the dreamtime and the remaining five tribes of Aboriginies that live in Cunnamulla today can trace their ancestry back to between 15,000 and 50,000 years.  Cunnamulla is rich and strong in Aboriginal culture, Aboriginal heritage, Aboriginal arts and Aboriginal artists.  The British colonists declared that “before their arrival all of the continent was terra nullius (not inhabited by humans). They used this as justification for taking whatever they wanted.”  Today we know that was not true and many

Cunnamulla Aboriginal Family aprox 1890, Cunnamulla history, Cunnamulla Live Australia's Story, Aborigines Cunnamulla, Aboriginals Cunnamulla, Indigenous people Cunnamulla, Aboriginal Culture Cunnamulla

Cunnamulla Aborigines at their camp in Cunnamulla about 1890’s

Aboriginal people endured horrific violence and injustices.

Leaving England in 1798 and arriving in Australia in 1799, on board the sailing ship Barwell, were the first three free families of settlers to arrive in this country.  One of these families was named Smith, one son being Robert Smith. They were given a grant of land at Baulkham Hills, between Parramatta and the Hawkesbury River.

After the crossing of the Blue Mountains in 1813, one of the first districts opened to settlers, was the Bathurst district, and the Smith family, including Samuel Smith, the son of Robert Smith, moved to Trunkey in the Bathurst district.

Samuel Smith marries Elizabeth Arkell, daughter of Thomas Arkell, who had served in the Royal Navy, and arrived in Australia in the ship “Experiment” in 1801, and in 1821 was Superintendent of Stock at Bathurst.

In 1829 – 1830 Thomas Arkell established stations Mulgunnia and Trunkey and Copperhannia between Tuen and Trunkey.  Thomas Arkell and Samuel Smith were among the pioneer pastoralists of the Lachlan.

Early explorer Major Thomas Mitchell forged northward from New South Wales into the Queensland outback in search of an inland sea in the 1840.

He didn’t find the inland sea but he did sight the Warrego River and also noted the general area had excellent pastoral prospects.

Mitchell’s trip was cut short and he returned to New South Wales but left second in command Edmund Kennedy to have a look around the Warrego River area.

Kennedy’s reports of the area were glowing as well but he too had to cut his exploration short and headed south.

Just a couple of decades later Australian explorer, William Landsborough was searching for Bourke and Wills and on his way back to Melbourne he came through the Warrego region and was also impressed with what he saw. He announced the region to be ‘as fine, rich and well grassed as any person could wish for pastoral purposes.’

Even back in these days our early explorers knew quality cattle and sheep country when they saw it. Landsborough and his party stayed at Coongoola Station North of Cunnamulla with the Williams family.

In 1856, Samuel Smith and other graziers from Lachlan, set out to see what the country was like on the Darling, the second night, when about fourty miles from the Darling, they were attacked by blacks and Smith was speared in the back, the expedition was abandoned and they returned to the Lachlan, it took many months for Smith to recover.

In 1859, Samuel Smith and his son Thomas Arkell Smith, set out from Dubbo by camel, with cattle and established Cunnamulla Station on the Warrego River.  This was the beginning of the pastoralist arriving in the Cunnamulla area and is significant in Cunnamulla history.

Tenders for the three runs, Trunkey (50 square miles) and Chance (100 square miles), were submitted by Samuel Smith, of Albion House, Millers Point, Sydney, In August 1859 and accepted in may 1863 and later Lower Bowra West, tendered for by George Pearson, was incorporated in Cunnamulla Holding.

Samuel Smith transferred the holdings to his son Thomas Arkell Smith on the 16th March, 1866. T.A. Smith borrowing 3,500 pounds from George Edwin Smith, pledging stock on Lower Bowra West as security.

Thomas Reynolds was at the time Manager for T.T. Smith and the stock consisted of 2,360 six-year-old ewes, 1,000 maiden ewes, 1,000 wethers, hoggets and thirty rams together with 1,000 head of cattle.

In January 1867, Cobb and Co., entered in the register as a partnership of James Rutherford and Alexander William Robertson took over Cunnamulla Station, four blocks were referred to under mortgage of station and stock for three promissory notes to T.A. Smith for 2,780 pounds and 2,430 pounds the stock at this time being 3,602 four and five year old ewes, 1,595 13 month old weaners, 951 maiden ewes, 956 4 tooth wethers, 71 rams, 600 head of cattle and 20 horses.

In 1868, a reserve was created for the town of Cunnamulla, this is also significant in Cunnamulla history as a result of a petition to the local member, presented by Mr. A.F. Sullivan in October 1867.

Dispute arose, as the proposed town reserve was part of Cunnamulla Station and would be excised certain improvements of the Station.

The Cunnamulla Post Office opened 1st March 1868 and it is still the same building standing today.

The matter of the town reserve was finally settled and sales of the town allotments were made in 1869.

On the 1st of October, 1867, there were several more partners in Cobb and Co., being A.W. Robertson, J. Wagner, J. Rutherford, W.B. Bradley, W.F. Whitney and W.R. Hall; B. and Colin Robertson and Charles Pollock retiring from the partnership at that time, the stock at that time being 2,000 cattle and 10,000 sheep.

The Homestead at this time was where the Public School is now; Burrenbilla Homestead, an outstation of Cunnamulla Station, was on the sandhill at the nine mile on the old Bourke Road.

The Crown Lands Act of 1884 allowed consolidation of runs and any pockets of land not taken up, mainly owing to the land being too far from water, were added to existing holdings; with this consolidation Cunnamulla Station had an area of 643 square miles, the Government later resuming 253 square miles.

Cunnamulla was established, the very first mail to circulate through Cunnamulla was back in 1868 when a fortnightly run was made by horse to Patura Creek, Bulloo River, a distance of 300 odd kilometers.

Pack horses around Cunnamulla, cunnamulla history, cully fest, droving

Cunnamulla packhorse mail Cunnamulla to Bourke

Cobb & Co ran a pack horse mail to Bourke, with the first mail leaving Cunnamulla in charge of Timothy Keane in 1877.

Tim and his brother Michael had come to Cunnamulla from South Australia with farming experience.

Tim took up the property, Cuttaburra Branch just south of Cunnamulla.

Many members of the Keane family are in the Cunnamulla area today on a number of properties and are collectors of Cunnamulla history as well as being part of it.

Like their great grandfather all are great horse and stockmen.

In 1893, Cobb & Co. partners were James Rutherford and William Whitney; they entered into a mortgage agreement with Walter Russell Hall, Potts Point, Sydney, for a loan of 30,000 pounds, this being the amount owing to Hall on relinquishing his share of the partnership, the mortgage being on 222,000 merino sheep, which were on Cunnamulla Station and Claverton Downs, Claverton Downs also being held by Cobb & Co.

The manager at this time was Mr. Arthur Leeds. Mr. G. H. Austin became Manager in 1898. Mr. J.C. Webster was Manager from 1900 to 1902, he then retired to Helidon.

Mr T.J. Webster became Manager in 1902 and retained the position until he drew Willacora in 1918.

Mr. W.F. Whitney died in 1897 and James Rutherford was then owner of Burrenbilla.

The name of the property was changed from Cunnamulla Station to Burrenbilla between 1893 and 1894. Letters in these years referred to the property under both names.

The 1898 drought caused monetary troubles and Cobb & Co. borrowed 35,000 pounds from Dalgety & Co, the stock mortgage being 105,400 sheep, 750 cattle and 400 horses.

James Rutherford died on the 13th September, 1911.

When purchased by Mr. Carl Schmidt in 1913, Burrenbilla was 196,040 acres and it was to become a part of Cunnamulla history along with the Schmidt family who forged successful pastoral enterprises throughout the district.

This was reduced to 71,400 acres before the purchase by Mr. G.H. Schmidt in 1944, and further resumption leaves it as we know it today at 31,400 acres. Burrenbilla is still in the Schmidt family today with the owner being Owen Schmidt who is highly regarded throughout the region as a great bushman.

An exciting time in Cunnamulla history is the arrival of entrepreneur James Tyson who arrived in the Warrego region fresh from exploiting the hungry mouths of the Victorian gold miners.

When he saw crowds flocking to the goldfields to find their fortunes he reasoned that they would all need food so purchased cattle and sold them to feed the miners at a good profit.

With cash in pocket, the young budding businessman arrived in Queensland and purchased several pastoral properties including Tinnenburra, Australia’s largest pastoral holding at the time.

cunnamullacunnamullaIn Cunnamulla history he was known as ‘Hungry Tyson’ his business enterprise was no doubt an influence in establishing the town’s prosperity. As his ambitions grew so did his investments in the area.

He built what was known at the time as the world’s largest woolshed.

It boasted a whopping 101 stands and at one stage he ran 500,000 sheep on his property.

Half a million sheep were shorn annually at Tinnenburra.

He was also one of the first to take advantage of the Great Artesian Basin water by sinking Cunnamulla’s first bore and then went on to sink another eight.

It would seem Tyson developed Cunnamulla history almost single handed through his success and the significance of what he achieved.

The basin provided the only reliable source of freshwater through much of inland Australia. Tyson’s followed a strict business ethos.

He employed young men on his stations and trained them well. He ran a tight ship insisting employees were in bed at sundown and up at sunrise.

Tinnenburra Bore CunnamullaTinnenburra bore CunnamullaArtesian Bore Tinnenburra CunnamullaCunnamulla history and pastoral history in the district tell us his success in the region would have been facilitated by favorable wool markets and the transport and communications links that were opened by Cobb and Co.

Tyson’s went on to amass great wealth and become known as one of Australia’s richest men of the time.

Thought of as almost an enigma, he died in 1898 a wealthy bachelor.

When he died intestate, his estate was valued at between $2,5000,000 and $3,000,000.

Cobb & Co, another major player in the growth of Cunnamulla originated in the United States but was on Australian shores by 1850.

They established an efficient coaching organisation in Victoria transporting miners in the gold fields.

Following advice from Cobb & Co partner James Rutherford, the business expanded north into Queensland and established routes as far as Cairns and Normanton.

By 1865 Cobb & Co had arrived in Queensland and a year later their coaches arrived in Cunnamulla.

The town was on the north south thoroughfare and became a vital stopover on Cobbs routes.

Coachman Billy Armstrong led the first Cobb & Co passenger coach from Bourke to Cunnamulla in 1878.

Cobb & Co established themselves on the premises of Stockyard and Garden streets.

They purchased a small shanti (thought to be the town’s first building) from local identity William Brown Bradley who was a well-known pioneer and became a prominent figure in the district.

He was elected for the Paroo Shires first Divisional Board where he represented subdivision three and later, was elected to represent the division of Cunnamulla in the town’s first elections.

The town was appointed as a place to hold a Court of Petty Sessions. A modest Courthouse was erected for the sum of 150 pounds.

Four police officers and two Native Policemen were appointed and a small courthouse was built to ensure the arm of law and order was to reach Cunnamulla.

The board kept a watchful eye on the moral code of the towns’ people to ensure a certain standard.

A by-law was introduced in 1886 that forbade any persons ‘undressing and or bathing in the river or steam between the hours of 7am and 8pm’.

Cobb & Co’s Cunnamulla premises were large enough to accommodate the company’s growth to eventually offer accommodation and refreshments (Cobb and Co held a liquor license) for guests and stables to dress and water the horses.

After a long dusty journey a nice drop, good food and clean sheets would have been a welcoming experience for the travellers.

It’s easy to see how the premises later evolved from a transport company that welcomed travellers with refreshments and accommodation into a with good food and accommodation.

Today the stables are long gone and the horse drawn coaches are just a memory and piece of Cunnamulla history.

The Club Boutique Hotel while a significant landmark in Cunnamulla history still runs on the same ideals of yesterday and serves as a modern day reminder of how things were done in colonial days.

William Gardiner with a bullock wagon in 1920

Two Up School in front of Tattersall’s Hotel Cunnamulla

School Building at Keanes Crossing 1939

Today Cunnamulla has five tribes of Aboriginal people that once were spread over hundreds of millions of acres

Cunnamulla where you Live Australia’s Story

While the walls can’t talk many locals can and you will hear near on 150 – 50,000 years of yarns about Cunnamulla history, the Cunnamulla Aboriginal culture, people their dreaming stories and how they lived at one with the land.

You will also hear stories and Cunnamulla history about the town and the families that have chiseled out a life here on these pastoral plains and how they’ve battled these harsh lands.

You’d hear about Cunnamulla history of the camel trains that stopped here to unload flour to the townsfolk after a major flood left their cupboards bare.

You’d listen to stories of Cunnamulla history about the teamsters who lead the bulging bullock trains that trundled through town loaded with tons of wool after a boom season.

What about the Cunnamulla history of the scorching heat wave of 1896 that pushed the mercy to 53.3 degrees Celsius for nine days and wiped out untold animal and birdlife.

There’s no doubt in Cunnamulla history that Mother Nature is the master chef out here. She mobilizes and dishes out uncompromising measures.

Her ingredients swing from torrential flooding to blinding heat waves to the infrequent but fierce tornado that flattens everything in its path.

Of course there are the unrelenting droughts that slowly but surely sere livestock and leave pastoralists aching in despair.

In contrast, Cunnamulla history will show you don’t have to look far to see her bounty as well. The beauty out here is disarming.

Out on the plains the pink and grey Brolgas move trance like as they step out their daily dance in the early morning light.

Out over the paddocks, a sudden cacophony of screeching reveals hundreds of galahs as they explode skyward.

You don’t have to look far to get a glimpse of our famous Cunnamulla Fella either. Who is he you ask?

He lives in us all out here. He’s the survivor with a tough spirit, the larrikin who, in a quiet moment, stares out over the plains with a questioning look.

Yes, the elements are tough but the people of Cunnamulla are tougher.

Over the decades, Cunnamulla history tells us the townsfolk have developed a tenacity to endure and live with and in spite of the harsh conditions.

They themselves have been sculptured and fashioned to withstand the extremes and like the Mulga bush, survive on less when necessary.

Their commitment to survive has been forged in the fires of many challenges and so life continues on the pastoral plains.

Cunnamulla is west of Brisbane by about 700 kilometers and ThargomindahBourke and Charleville a just couple of hours drive away.

It’s Mulga country here where a semi-arid band of dirt fringes Australia’s inland deserts that cover 18% of its land mass.

Where ever you look the Mulga bush (Acacia aneura) is a common sight and during drought times, it’s a temporary backup food for cattle and sheep.

It survives on less than a teacup of water per year and it needs to because some years a teacup is all there is.

The irony is that while rainfall is low, Cunnamulla sits on the largest underground body of water in the world – the Great Artesian Basin which holds a whopping 64,000 square kilometers of water.

Bore water is highly mineralised and is only a short term solution for drought conditions.

Millions of years ago explosive geological upheavals in the Carnarvon area created dramatic changes that altered the land that you’re standing on today.

This was the time of dinosaurs and flora such as giant cycads, tree ferns, ginkgoes and early conifers towered towards the sky.

Today this area is known as the Consuelo Tablelands, where peaks reach 1000 meters above sea level.

It’s also called the ‘roof of Queensland’ because from this region flows a lot of water. It is the home of rivers because after those prehistoric upheavals the basalt lava cooled and solidified and the twin forces of water and wind began their work, eroding the soft basalt.

Streams were cut, forming rivers that today drain into five major catchments – the Dawson, Maranoa, Warrego, Nogoa and Comet rivers.

The Warrego River steered a path down through the country that would eventually be the town of Cunnamulla and is part of the Murray Darling Basin.

In Indigenous language the word Warrego means river of sand and Cunnamulla means long stretch of water and for thousands of years tribes such as the Badjir, Kalali, Naranganji and the Koamu (one other tribe here Peieta) have camped here beside the waterholes.

Early explorer Major Thomas Mitchell forged northward from New South Wales into the Queensland outback in search of an inland sea in the 1840.

He didn’t find the inland sea but he did sight the Warrego River and also noted the general area had excellent pastoral prospects.

Mitchell’s trip was cut short and he returned to New South Wales but left second in command Edmund Kennedy to have a look around the Warrego River area.

Kennedy’s reports of the area were glowing as well but he too had to cut his exploration short and headed south.

Just a couple of decades later Australian explorer, William Landsborough was searching for Bourke and Wills and on his way back to Melbourne he came through the Warrego region and was also impressed with what he saw.

He announced the region to be ‘as fine, rich and well grassed as any person could wish for pastoral purposes.’

Even back in these days our early explorers knew quality cattle and sheep country when they saw it.

Landsborough and his party stayed at Coongoola Station (explain where it is) with the Williams family.

Cunnamulla was gazetted in 1868 and prior to this it was known as Cunnamulla Station and was part of the Harriman run owned by the Smith family, one of the first identities to settle here.

A new Crowns Land Act would come into place later which meant these original larger tracts of land would be subdivided. The smaller plots would allow more affordable land purchases.

Entrepreneur James Tyson arrived in the Warrego region fresh from exploiting the hungry mouths of the Victorian gold miners.

When he saw crowds flocking to the goldfields to find their fortunes he reasoned that they would all need food so purchased cattle and sold them to feed the miners at a good profit.

With cash in pocket, the young budding businessman arrived in Queensland and purchased several pastoral properties including Tinnenburra, Australia’s largest holding at the time.

Known as ‘Hungry Tyson’ his business enterprise was no doubt an influence in establishing the town’s prosperity. As his ambitions grew so did his investments in the area.

He built what was known at the time as the world’s largest woolshed.

It boasted a whopping 101 stands and at one stage he ran 500,000 sheep on his property. Half a million sheep were shorn annually at Tinnenburra.

He was also one of the first to take advantage of the Great Artesian Basin water by sinking Cunnamulla’s first bore and then went on to sink another eight.

The basin provided the only reliable source of freshwater through much of inland Australia. Tyson’s followed a strict business ethos.

He employed young men on his stations and trained them well. He ran a tight ship insisting employees were in bed at sundown and up at sunrise.

His success in the region would have been facilitated by favourable wool markets and the transport and communications links that were opened by Cobb and Co. Tyson’s went on to amass great wealth and become known as one of Australia’s richest men of the time.

Thought of as almost an enigma, he died in 1898 a wealthy bachelor. (When he died intestate, his estate was valued at between $2,5000,000 and $3,000,000.)

Cobb & Co, another major player in the growth of Cunnamulla originated in the United States but was on Australian shores by 1850.

They established an efficient coaching organization in Victoria transporting miners in the gold fields.

Following advice from Cobb & Co partner James Rutherford, the business expanded north into Queensland and established routes as far as Cairns and Normanton.

By 1865 Cobb & Co had arrived in Queensland and a year later their coaches arrived in Cunnamulla.

The town was on the north south thoroughfare and became a vital stopover on Cobbs routes. Coachman Billy Armstrong led the first Cobb & Co passenger coach from Bourke to Cunnamulla in 1878. Cobb & Co established themselves on the premises of Stockyard and Louise streets, where you are standing today.

They purchased a small shanti (thought to be the town’s first building) from local identity William Brown Bradley who was a well-known pioneer and became a prominent figure in the district. He was elected for the Paroo Shires first Divisional Board where he represented subdivision three and later, was elected to represent the division of Cunnamulla in the town’s first elections.

The town was appointed as a place to hold a Court of Petty Sessions. A modest Courthouse was erected for the sum of 150 pounds. Four police officers and two Native Policemen were appointed and a small courthouse was built to ensure the arm of law and order was to reach Cunnamulla.

The board kept a watchful eye on the moral code of the towns’ people to ensure a certain standard.

A by-law was introduced in 1886 that forbade any persons ‘undressing and or bathing in the river or steam between the hours of 7am and 8pm’.

Cobb & Co’s Cunnamulla premises were large enough to accommodate the company’s growth to eventually offer accommodation and refreshments (Cobb and Co held a liquor license) for guests and stables to dress and water the horses.

After a long dusty journey a nice drop, good food and clean sheets would have been a welcoming experience for the travellers.

It’s easy to see how the premises later evolved from a transport company that welcomed travellers with refreshments and accommodation into a hotel welcoming travellers with good food and accommodation.

Today the stables are long gone and the horse drawn coaches are just a memory, the Club Boutique Hotel still runs on the same ideals of yesterday and serves as a modern day reminder of how things were done in colonial days.

CobbandCoCoach, Cobb and Co Coach Cunnamulla, Passenger Coach Cunnamulla, Cunnamulla History, Cobb and Co Cunnamulla History, Cobb & Co Mail CoachThe very first mail to circulate through Cunnamulla was back in 1868 when a fortnightly run was made by horse to Patura Creek, Bulloo River, a distance of 300 odd kilometers.

Timothy Keane loaded up a pack horse with envelopes and did the first official Cobb & Co mail run from Cunnamulla to Bourke in 1879.

Tim and his brother Michael had come to Cunnamulla from South Australia with farming experience. Tim took up the property, Cuttaburra Branch just south of Cunnamulla.

The regular arrival of weekly and twice weekly coaches were an event that caused towns folk to turn their heads and stare, for the telltale sign of dusk that would follow the coach into town.

Long awaited mail, newspapers, magazines and mail order parcels were arriving and important mail and documents were to be dispatched.

A shearer’s strike in Cunnamulla bought sheep shearing to a standstill in 1890. The depression years had left the hardworking shearers with not enough jobs.

They were angry over conditions and wages and employers were threatening to bring in scab labor. Around 500 shearers went on a large scale strike and set up union camps.

Tension remained for some months and eventually the situation lead to the formation of the Australian Workers Union.

The Toowoomba Mounted Infantry, Queensland Defence Force troops, Cunnamulla Troops and extra police were called upon to control the situation.

Cobb & Co had almost five decades of coaching success in Queensland but also owned other properties including Burrenbilla and Claverton stations.

Cobb & Co partner James Rutherford had business acumen and vision and steered the company through drought, a depression, the introduction of the motor car and numerous other challenges.

Rutherford’s death in 1911 was the first of several blows for the company and the loss of long time company inspector Tom Gallagher had a negative effect on the company.

The closing of the Charleville coach building factory and the division of large mail routes into smaller out sourced runs lead to the company closing its doors in 1929 although a Cobb and Co store continued to trade in Surat until 1953.

Cobb & Co transported people and mail but were not the only means of transport in Cunnamulla. Wool bales were transported by camel or bullock wagons.

In one instance two camel teams transported 22 tons – one team carrying 12 tons, drawn by 20 camels and the other carrying 10 tons and drawn by 17 camels.

Bullock Wagon Tinnenburra carting wool, Cunnamulla History, Tinnenburra Station History, Bullock Wagons Cunnamulla, Bullockies Cunnamulla, Cully FestNinety six bales of wool which equaled 18 tons was pulled by 32 bullocks.

Fierce competition would often erupt between camel and bullock drivers who were both vying for work.

Camel transportation also became a race issue when unions were pushing for the protection of ‘white labor. A group, dubiously named ‘the Western Queensland Anti-camel League’ was formed in 1899. ’

Camels were not new to the area and were able to travel reliably where bullocks could not. Several times after major floods the people of Cunnamulla were grateful for the camel trains that arrived with food.

Cunnamulla’s development grew steadily but not without the continued challenges from Mother Nature.

The town braced itself in the aftermath of the first recorded big flood of 1886. It would be the first of many where townsfolk would watch the Warrego or the Paroo Rivers swell and wipe the town downstream. Today the town is protected by a levee.

1879 saw the first telegraph line open allowing telegrams to be sent and received. Operations began for a river punt to cross the Warrego in 1880 and in the same year, rouge thief, Joseph Wells, rode into town and robbed the Queensland National Bank.

In 1885 the town boasted seven hotels and a brewery owned by Burton’s and later by Tatham family.

Burtons Brewery was on the southern fence line at the back of the Cunnamulla State School and in recent years some broken bottles with the logo have been dug up from the site.

Locals celebrated the town’s first show in 1882, organised by the Warrego Pastoral Society. The hospital opened in 1885.

The Anglican Church was built and opened in 1886. Private locked mail boxes were introduced in 1888 and reticulated water flowed in the town in 1896 which meant water was just a turn of the tap away now.

Mother Nature continued to dish out her wrath when the town was hit by a freak tornado in September 1892.

There was no loss of life but it was reported that not a building went undamaged. Burton s Brewery was unroofed and Cobb and Co stables were flattened.

Just prior to the turn of the century Cunnamulla had six hotels and the train line from Brisbane was opened. A bridge spanning the Warrego was built and opened in 1901.

Cunnamulla in those early days was progressive, the towns leaders had great vision and the determination to get the job done building many world class facilities.

The 1926 ‘switching on’ ceremony officially welcomed electricity to Cunnamulla. Cunnamulla was the first town in Queensland to be fully sewered by 1938.

The population increased and so did the town’s wealth as cattle became less popular in favour of sheep.

It was wool that would lead Cunnamulla into a bonanza of prosperity. Shepherds were being replaced by fences and several properties began to import top-notch rams.

By the beginning of the 20th century there were 2,500,000 sheep in the district against 500,000 head of cattle but the two leading factors that kept the wool economy fluctuating were the climate and the demand for wool.

Over the years the wool industry has swung form boom to bust several times.

World War I had 370 men and 2 nurses enlist for military training. Many of these now lie in graves in France, Middle East and Belgium.

World War II saw many boys from the bush enlist and a detailed encounter can be read in a book called “Cockey a rare breed” and it is well worth it as it describes a group of outback lads that were POW’s and how their bush ingenuity and friendships kept them alive.

The first documented owner of the crown land where the Club Boutique Hotels stands today was Frederick Ford whose name appears on the official sale register in March 1876.

The Club Hotel, like most outback pubs, have a long line of owners and licensees. The Club’s longest running owner was Adrian Thomas Murray who held a license for 16 years and is still held in high regard by locals.

He bought the pub in 1986 and his license was the last paper license to be issued before electronic copies were introduced.

Other licensees include – W D Bradley, Cobb & Co, Peter Durkin, Robert Warner, Bennett Benlick, T E Lillis, Christopher Millar, Thomas McGillicuddy, E Costello, Annie Wilford, Richard Walsh, Annie Newman, Annie Wilford NC Newman, Felix McKeon, Elizabeth and Agnes Hannan, J Millar, Henry Sharp and McGuigan and Co, L Frame, A T Rowe, M D Browne, T Tuite, F Jackson, J Dobbie, B Newton, P Wharburton, A Wallace, A Murray, T & W Ferriday, Cunnamulla Club P/L, Interim Authority approved to Freehold owner, A & D Dixon, Hotel and Hospitality P/L, R & F Campbell, Out The Back Australia P/L.

The Club has been rebuilt twice: once after the 1892 tornado and again after the 1933 fire that razored it to the ground.

Both times it has been restored to its former glory and continued to hold a prominent place in the town.

Local historian Doug McGregor remembers the stories that were handed around about the Club Hotel in Cunnamulla.

During the days of Cobb & Co the Club Hotel was a leading place in Cunnamulla and any official visits from royalty would be accommodated at the Club.

“It was on one acre or more and it had its own stables, saddler and hair salon for the ladies.

After the tornado, Christopher Millar took on its rebuilding. And rebuilt it he did. Phrases compared the style of the Club to ‘leading hotels of the Metropolis’.

It was referred to as palatial and boasting private tables and sitting rooms, capacious and well-appointed sample rooms. Ladies were ensured ‘upmost privacy’.

Governor, Lord Lamington, Sir Horace Tozer and Captain Pelham were entertained on the first Vice Regal visit made to town in January 1898.

Vice regal visit to Cunnamulla, Sir Horace Tozer, Capt Pelham, Lord Lamington, Club Hotel Cunnamulla, Cunnamulla, Cunnamulla History, Cully Fest, Cunnamulla Live Australia's StoryThe Club’s third life began after a fire on St Patrick’s Day 1933. The blaze also destroyed adjoining buildings including Mark’s wine and spirit bulk store, J Wallis’s cordial factory, a large two storied store and three cottages. Work began on rebuilding the Club in March the following year.

Licensee Lillian Frame would take the Club forward into its new life. Folklore has it that Castlemaine Perkins funded its rebuilding. Local builder Norman James (NJ) Thompson employed local men and several tradesman from Brisbane for the job.

Thompson’s son, John Thompson OAM, now 92 years old and who was also a builder by trade, said his father not only built the Club Hotel but also built most of the buildings in Cunnamulla.

John said building practices in the time of his father were very different to that of today. “Building the place was done all by hand in those days.” “Excavations, mixing the cement and nailing – it was all manual labor.”

“They worked 7.30am until 5pm and pay day was Friday.” “They got four pound a week for wages and that would be about $8.00 today.

“They bought in cypress from the sawmill at Yullbah and the joinery shop at Stanthorpe.” “It was nothing flash just brick and timber with a hardwood floor and galvanized roof.”

“Back then one pound would buy 100 supa that was one foot by one foot by one foot.” “There shearers would come in on Friday after knocking off and Friday and Saturday were the pubs busiest.”

“In those days there were no women allowed in the pub.” Six months and a dozen or so men and the Club had been raised again.

In some ways the Club Boutique Hotel personifies the people of Cunnamulla.

Both have endured, been knocked down, recovered and rebuilt, felt Mother Nature’s wrath more than once and can stand tall today with a swag of yarns under its belt.

The doors of the Club Boutique Hotel opened again, as it has for more than a century. What does that mean to the town?

In the words of a swagman in 1935 …. “Slopping through the muddy water, swag up, or along dust-strewn track, and the wearied swagmen welcomed the sight of the distant pub and cheerily almost marched on to its welcoming.

The Abbott buggy swung its way past the swaggie and drew up for the rest and refreshment of its occupants bullocky, drover, stockman, commercial carrier and coach driver pulled up to its portal for the rest and comfort.

Its portal still offers rest and comfort. Owner/operator Peieta Mills is currently compiling and preserving the history of the hotel as a tribute, not only to the building but more importantly, as a way of preserving the stories of the towns people.

Cunnamulla was and is built on its people.

Cunnamulla has a number of landmarks or Town Tributes that have been dedicated to people past and present who have contributed to the growth and development of the region. These people are highly respected by the community and include:

Allan Tannock Weir, Jack Tonkin Cunnamulla Caravan Park, Buster Schmidt Park, Dave Webster Park, Brendan Abbott – Works Depot, John Kerr Park, Bob Poncho Park, AR Taylor Pavillion, FW Thomas Pavillion, Senior Citizen’s Hall.

Shearer’s were an integral part of the pastoral industry in the Paroo Shire area.

The conditions of the first shearers were rough, shearing manually with blades in sheds constructed of bark and canvas.

60 – 80 sheep shorn per day was considered a good days work. The man who could shear more would be known as the “ringer” of the shed.

Shearers would ride bicycles or walk from shed to shed and no part of the job was easy, in fact back then and still today it would have to be one of the toughest jobs on the planet.

Today, a shearer normally shears around 140 to 300 sheep a day. Teams of shearers travel from property to property during the season.

A flock of 5000 probably requires a 4-stand shed with shearing machines and equipment for four shearers.

Most sheep are shorn once a year and Merino wool grows about 7 to 10 cm in that time.

Charlie McKenzie initially came to Cunnamulla as a shearer and soon developed his own contracting business.

Charles and his MHR Shearing revolutionised shearing in this area taking it from traditional sheds to the paddock with his cutting edge, portable shearing and crutching truck.

The truck allows for Charlie and his team to crutch the sheep in the paddock eliminating much of the effort required for mustering, reducing stress on the sheep during times of drought and ultimately, saving valuable time and money for the producer.

In 1990 the Australian wool industry was deregulated and crashed overnight casting a net of devastation across Outback Queensland as producers struggled to survive the next twenty years.

Today numbers of merino sheep in the area are about one seventh of what they were. This has seen the shearer being put on the endangered species list and the contractors have also dramatically reduced in numbers and have to travel all over the country to find enough work.

The crash in the wool industry and technological advances have seen the following industries rise or fall in and around Cunnamulla in the last twenty years meat sheep, cattle, feral goat harvesting, cropping including cotton, guwah beans, mung beans, organic wheat, oats and sorghum, table grapes, asparagus, peanuts, garlic, tourism, beekeeping, commercial wildlife harvesting,

Cunnamulla today is a small town less than half its size of the 1980’s fighting for life as drought, degradation of industry, diminishing services, lack of employment opportunities and population shift challenge its existence.

Where to Stay in Cunnamulla?Where to Eat in Cunnamulla?What to Do in Cunnamulla?Cunnamulla EventsGallery

Club Boutique Hotel

Club Boutique Hotel provides an all-inclusive stay and is located near Cunnamulla’s CBD. Club Boutique Hotel offers a fine-dining a la carte restaurant, free parking, complimentary wifi, business facilities (upon request), mini-bar, television and more.

Contact:
07 4655 1679
15 Louise Street, Cunnamulla 4490
www.clubboutiquehotel.com
info@outthebackaustralia.com.au

For more details on Cunnamulla Accommodation please visit the Paroo Shire Tourism website.

Club Boutique Restaurant

Club Boutique Hotel has a quality restaurant offering exquisite meals and a variety of local and imported beers, wines and spirits.

For more details on Cunnamulla restaurants and cafes please visit the Paroo Shire Tourism website.

Out the Back Australia Tours

Cunnamulla Day Tours

To discover the real Australian Outback your journey begins in Cunnamulla where there are no shows, just real people living in the real Australian Outback. Get up close and personal with the local people and wildlife.  Travel the remote roads and explore the small towns on your journey.  Cruise the Warrego River on a sunset river cruise, climb to the top of the natural sand dunes, soak up the therapeutic value of a natural Artesian Spa hundreds of millions of years old.

Experience real life on a working sheep and cattle property or simply lay back on the riverbank and experience nature at it best.  Embark on a pub crawl of the local watering holes, say G’day to the Cunnamulla Fella, play lawn bowls with the locals or enjoy organic lamb around the campfire with local entertainment, no matter what your interest the Outback journey begins here “Cunnamulla”.

Cunnamulla Markets

Club Boutique Hotel has local markets every Saturday from June – September 2015. The markets operate from 12-5pm on Saturdays and offer a range of sweets & treats, antiques & collectibles, crafts, art, live music and more! If you are interested in holding a stall at the markets, please contact the Club Boutique Hotel on 07 4655 1679.

Outback characters know how to make their lives interesting. Rodeo, Horse Races, Pub Crawls or Country Music Festivals are as common as weekly Club-Meetings.

Artesian Time Tunnel

Travel back in time 100 million years.  When you visit Cunnamulla you are standing on the Eromanga Basin, the world’s largest underground river that flows beneath half of inland Australia.  The water takes almost two million years to travel from its starting point at the Great Dividing Range to where it surfaces in the deserts of central Australia.

The Cunnamulla Fella

Sitting proudly on his swag on the former site of the Great Western Hotel the two and a half times life size bronze is nothing short of magnificent.  The original artwork was produced by Michael Nicholas in an Australia wide search for the artwork that depicted the “Cunnamulla Fella” based on the lyrics of the song written by Stan Coster and put to music by Slim Dusty.  Archie Sinclair a sculpture originally from the Northern Territory won the bid to transform the artwork to a bronze statue.  While some may argue he is a bit young, he should be Aboriginal or there should be a dog beside him, there is no taking away his rugged personality which reflects the true soul of the Australian Outback.

Fishing

The coffee-coloured water of the Warrego River provides some excellent angling opportunities.  The fish that will try and elude your hook are primarily catfish, yellow belly, Murray cod, silver perch and spangled perch.

 

Cunnamulla 2018 Events

  • Anzac Races | April 25

  • Angel Flight Charity Ride | April

  • Noorama Picnic Races | April 14

  • Cooper Creek to Cunnamulla Bike Ride |

  • Music in the Mulga | May 17-20

  • Cunnamulla Show | May 26-27

  • Cunnamulla Gun Club Shoot | May 11-13

  • Cunnamulla Polocrosse Carnival | June

  • Slim Dusty Day | June 13

  • Cunnamulla & Dist Diggers Races | June

  • Big Red Bash Birdsville | July 10-12

  • Cunnamulla Fella Bowls Carnival | August 24-26

  • Cunnamulla Fella Festival & Pro Bull Ride | August 26-26

  • Cunnamulla Golf Open | August 1-2

    Birdsville Races | September 4-5

  • Cunnamulla 150 | November 8-11