13 things you didn’t know about Hughenden

Porcupine Gorge | 13 Things you didn't know about Hughenden

For a town recognised for its pre-historic creatures, it’s no surprise to find a myriad of ancient landscapes here.

From fossils to flourishing flora, here are 13 things you didn’t know about Hughenden’s past and present.

 

1. It’s one third of the Australian Dinosaur Trail

Flinders Discovery Centre | 13 things you didn't know about Hughenden

 

Never heard of the Australian Dinosaur Trail?  Step foot in Hughenden and transport yourself to a time when the land was a giant inland sea and marine reptiles and dinosaurs roamed the area.

Hughenden is one of three towns that create the triangular trail – with Richmond and Winton part of this boney trifecta.

Stop by Flinders Discovery Centre to say hi to Hughie, the seven metre tall skeletal Muttaburrasaurus.

Home to an impressive fossil collection, the Discovery Centre takes you through the history of the dinosuar era, from the first fossil found in the area in 1865 to modern day dino digs.

 

2. It’s framed by four national parks

This is one outback town with some serious natural wonder credibility. In fact, there are four national parks surrounding the town.

Head east 80km to White Mountains National Park, known for its contrasting white sandstone structures and colourful wildflowers that spring to life in the winter months.

Trek 65km north to Porcupine National Park and you’ll find sandstone gorges that are nothing short of breath-taking.

Head further north to come across Blackbraes National Park, a stretch of Ironbark woodlands, home to native wildlife such as grey kangaroos. Tick off these other outback creatures with this wildlife check list.

Adventure south-east of town and you’ll stumble across Moorrinya National Park, an outback camping oasis where you can set up along waterways that wind through eucalypt, acacia, and paperbark woodlands.

 

3. You can’t move for local parks

You don’t have to go far for your nature fix, there are four parks in downtown Hughenden perfect for kicking back and relaxing.

Enjoy playgrounds, grassy picnic areas, views of the town as well as the outback landscape at Brodie Street Park, Bully Playford Park, Discovery Park, and Robert Grey Memorial Park.

 

4. It’s an artwork and sculpture hub

Hughenden is an outback artist haven, with a trail of sculptures installed around the town wearing its history and heart on its sleeve.

Made from scrap metal by local artists, installations such as Darby the Dinosaur, Leanneosaur and the Pterosaurs, and fish sculptures adorn the streets and local businesses.

Take a stroll down Grey Street to spot the window panel artworks depicting the town’s cultural heritage.

 

5. It’s got its very own Grand Canyon

Porcupine Gorge |13 things you didn't know about Hughenden

#OutbackQueensland photo by @unknownmilestone

 

Don’t be fooled by the seemingly endless horizons of flat outback plains, Hughenden’s best kept secret is actually quite hilly – enter Porcupine National Park.

Porcupine Gorge, otherwise known as ‘Australia’s Little Grand Canyon’, follows the towering cliffs that frame porcupine Creek.

With two lookouts, camping facilities, and walking tracks, you can immerse yourself in the beauty of this Gorge-ous national park.

 

6. It’s built upon volcanic basalt

If you’re keen on a 4×4 adventure through the outback, put discovering the Basalt Byways on your to-tread list.

The track takes you north of town through mountains and valleys of volcanic basalt walls, with lookouts along the way where you can see Hughenden in the distance.

 

7. The town has a dark side

Mount Walker | 13 things you didn't know about Hughenden

 

Head out to Mount Walker and you’ll lay eyes on an outback landscape of a different kind – flat black soil plains disrupted by a mammoth mountain.

From the top, six lookouts provide 360 views of the plains, the town and beyond.

 

8. The town was named after a house in England

When founder Earnest Henry stumbled across the area in 1863 and decided to set up camp, he named the settlement Hughenden Station.

Why Hughenden? Well, it was the name of the Tudor Manor house belonging to his Grandfather in Buckinghamshire, England.

With the purpose of a manor house to display one’s wealth and status, Hughenden Station was Earnest Henry’s very own outback version of a manor.

 

9. The Little House on the Prairie comes to life here

Just 30km east of Hughenden with a population of 50, is the quaint town of Prairie.

Relive your Little House on the Prairie moments on the rolling plains of grasslands or stop by the Prairie hotel for a step back in time through the town’s history with memorabilia lining the walls.

 

10. The area has wartime ties

Venture further east to come across a piece of wartime history at Torrens Creek. The land that the town now resides on was once used as an ammunition dumping ground during World War II.

One way to learn more about the town’s history is to visit the Exchange Hotel, where you can sit down with a cold bevvo, listen to a yarn or two, and add to the historic graffiti wall.

 

11. It’s got a Coolabah tree like no other

Historical Coolabah Tree | 13 things you didn't know about Hughenden

 

For one, simple tree, there’s one helluva story behind it.

Found on the entrance to the Hughenden Showgrounds, the Historical Coolabah Tree is linked to two relief missions on search for the Burke and Wills expedition.

Both expeditions blazed the tree, passing it on their search to find the Flinders River, triggering growth of settlement in the area.

 

12. The town is obsessed with windmills

Hughenden | 13 things you didn't know about Hughenden

#OutbackQueensland photo by @lex_prior_photography

 

Hughenden takes windmill installation to the next level, with a massive 35 foot comet windmill standing on the outskirts of town at Wirilla Station.

The Wirilla Windmill is number 11 out of only 15 of the giant windmills ever created, with the ability to pump over one million litres of water per day.

Can’t get enough of the windmill? Stop by Brodie Street to see the Federation Rotunda, an artistic sculpture made from two 20 foot blade windmills connected by a sheet of iron.

Made by local artists, the sculpture was erected as a celebration of the Centenary of Federation in 2001.

 

13. It’s your first outback stop if you’re hailing from Townsville

Located in the north-east pocket of the outback, Hughenden is your first taste of the country when coming from the coast.

With a short 385km drive from Townsville, you’re taken from tropical tree-scapes to roads lined with rusty-red dirt, filling your windows with mind-blowing outback scenery that require multiple pit stops to capture.

 

Have you been to Hughenden? Tell us about your experience in the comments below

3 Comments

Des Collett

Lived and explored Hughenden, first visited in 1966 lots of changes since, then owned a house there about 37 years ago. Have a connection with the town cemmertary and my mother was born there

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C. Lynch

Apparently my great grandmother Catherine Gillespie’s family owned a pub there in Hughendon in the late 1800s. Her parents were Bernard Gillespie 1860–1899 and Margaret Fitzgerald 1856–1919. If anyone knows information about this pub and family owners I would love to hear from you.

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