Ask anyone about Barcaldine – and they’ll usually be able to tell you something about the tree.
The famous tree is in fact, the Tree of Knowledge, which came into its prime in 1861 when it played a role in the Great Shearers Strike, which led to the birth of the Australian Labor Party.
But what you probably don’t know are these fun facts about the town. Add these into your arsenal for the next round of trivial pursuit or pub trivia:
1. Barcaldine is known as the Garden City in the Outback. In fact, every one of its streets are named after trees.
2. It’s a stopping point on the World’s Largest Sculpture Trail. That’s right, a sculptor by the name of Milynda Rogers, has taken forgotten farming equipment like tractor heads, ball joints and barbed wire and welded them into works of art which are stretched from Aramac to Lake Dunne, incorporating Barcaldine of course. In Oak Street, you’ll find a Shearer sporting the Eureka Stockade flag and upstairs at ‘The Globe’ a flock of sheep made out of street sweepers.
3. The town has a fruit cake on display in the Barcaldine Historical Museum. We’re not sure what’s left of it, but we can tell you it was baked in 1976 by a celebrated local chef, and now takes pride of place in the museum. Try and find it for yourself!
4. Australia’s first artesian bore was found 35 kilometres west of Barcaldine. You can find newspaper clippings and a letter to the General Manager of the National Bank Brisbane in the Barcaldine Historical Museum, which announced the finding to the big smoke in 1887.
5. Barcaldine is home to Outback Queensland’s first and only Aboriginal Coffee Manufacturer. Enjoy a cup of joe with a double shot of history at Ridgee Didge Cafe. Cheryl Thompson’s Coolamon Coffee combines the flavours of the outback with the aboriginality of her cafe, promising every drinker a connection with the country.
6. There are 60,000 sheep in Barcaldine Shire which makes the sheep to human population 37:1 (compared to New Zealand which is only 20:1!).
7. There is a man buried under the Tree of Knowledge. At night, you can get a good look at the plaque which marks where his ashes were scattered underneath the tree. It’s not all sad news though – three baby kookaburras were born in the hollow of the tree at the end of 2016 and are expected to return to nest soon. Keep an eye out for them!
Did we miss any? What are your favourite Barcaldine fun facts or sayings?
By Hannah Statham.