For a town named after such a dark and moody colour, Blackall couldn’t be further from its namesake.
This place is seriously colourful and well-known for it – named as the art and cultural hub of Central Outback Queensland. The best time to see this Outback town in full flourish is the Blackall Heartland Festival, the annual celebration of all good things to come out of Blackall – wool, art and truckloads of culture.
What are you waiting for? Pack your dancing shoes and head to the heart of Outback Queensland for 48 hours of fun, art, and culture at the Blackall Heartland Festival.
12pm: Arrive in Blackall
You’ve got a choice of wheels or wings to get you to this outback town, and all flights and roads lead to Blackall.
If you hail from Brisbane catch a Qantas flight that departs to Blackall three times a week.
If you’ve the got the car packed for a road trip, you’ll need a playlist this long to last the journey:
· Rockhampton: 7 hours (613km) via the Capricorn Way.
· Bourke, NSW: 8 hours (750km) via the Mitchell Highway and Matilda Way.
2pm: Tick off the Trifecta
When visiting Blackall, there’s three town sites you can’t miss; the Jackie Howe Memorial Statue, Big Ram, and the Black Stump.
Named after the Australia’s most famous sheep shearer Jackie Howe, the memorial statue sits pride of place on Shamrock Street. Howe hand-sheared a record 341 sheep in seven hours and 40 minutes at Alice Downs, Blackall, in 1892 – and is still talk of the town some 145 years later.
If you need more convincing of the town’s obsession with sheep, stop by the Big Ram. Just as the Big Bull represents Rockhampton’s beef industry, the Big Ram in Blackall celebrates this town’s shearing history.
Complete the trifecta with a picture by the Black Stump. Don’t forget to caption the image with the classic saying that originated here “Beyond the Black Stump” – referring to all the land west of the town.
5pm: Party in the Street
The Blackall locals know how to kick off a festival with a free street party starting from 5pm.
Live music, entertainment, fancy decorations, food stalls, and a bar take over the town’s main street for a night of celebration and good times to officially open the festival.
10.30am: Explore the art of the outback
‘The Outback Artist’, Sandy Mclean, is 2017’s feature artist with a selection of works on display at the town Cultural Centre.
You’ll find another way to fall in love with the landscapes of the west that Mclean captures on canvas.
Note: The display will be open between 10.30am and 12.30pm over festival weekend.
12pm: Beef Producer’s Caufield Cup
It’s time to don your fancy frock and head to the popular Beef Producer’s Caufield Cup. Watch horses compete in the six race program, while you enjoy live music and participate in Fashions on the Field.
Note: The theme for 2017 is Big Spring Blooms and entry is $10.
9.45am: Blades and Blisters Jackie Howe Challenge
Known as the most iconic event of the festival, witness classic outback fun as teams compete in the hilarious obstacle course.
Groups of four (two male, two female, and one must be over 50 years), battle it out through a number of activities including sack racing, wool throwing, and a dancing competition.
Nominations can be made on the day, so if you reckon you’ve got what it takes and are up for the challenge, grab a few mates and take part!
10.30am: Race of a different kind
You’ve already seen horses canter down the track, now its time for a more unusual race – the Ewe Beaut Sheep Races.
Prepare for a day out with a difference as sheep dressed in bow ties, feathers and scarfs, with teddy bear jockeys, prove their pace in a four race program.
Who will win? Will it be LAMBorghini or perhaps BAAArbie? For a twenty dollar note, you can name a sheep and if your sheep wins in the final, you’ll take home the cash prize!
12pm: Take a tour of the Blackall Woolscour
Although the Blackall Woolscour ceased operations in 1978 (after 70 years of operation), through guided tours, this piece of Australian history still lives to tell the tale.
On guided hourly tours you’ll learn that it’s the only steam-driven wool-washing shed in Australia that incorporated a shearing area, and only scour that’s still fully intact.
1pm: Take the scenic route home
If you drove to the outback, there’re plenty of places in the Blackall neck of the woods to persuade you to extend your trip.
Burn a little extra rubber and check out these neighbouring destinations:
- Tambo: With the most common suffix being Teddy, the town is best known for its local production of 100% natural wool-made teddies that are just as cosy as they are cute.
- Charleville: Venture further south and you’ll arrive in this star-studded town (known for its out of this world Cosmo Centre). Get up and close with an adorable Bilby at the Save the Bilby Fund which works to protecting these cute yet endangered marsupials.
- Barcaldine: Need some wisdom? Visit the Tree of Knowledge and learn how it became the birthplace of the Labour Party. Don’t forget to stick around with this itinerary.
- Longreach: Instead of heading back east, turn the opposite way out of Barcaldine and travel approximately one hour to Longreach, the heart of the outback. Visit the Qantas Founders Museum which is one of two places in the world where you can walk on the wing of a plane.
- Idalia National Park: Explore the natural beauty of the outback and adventure through this national park that is best known for its red river gums and rocky escapements standing out from Mulga Woodlands.
Have you been to Blackall?
Post sponsored by Blackall Heartland Festival.