Blackall, nestled on the banks of the famous Barcoo River in outback Queensland is 950 Kms from Brisbane or 690 kms west of Rockhampton. Visiting Blackall for the first, one is immediately struck by how green the town is. This is due to the fact that the towns water supply is connected to Australia’s Great Artesian Basin. Because of the “unlimited” water supply, the local council doesn’t charge water rates which means the town residences are free to use as much water as the wish.
The Heartland Festival runs over 3 days and there is something happening all the time. It is suggested that extra days are spent in the town so one can see and experience what Blackall has to offer. Attractions include viewing the legendary “Black Stump” where the famous saying “beyond the Black Stump“ originated, Ram park with its historical buildings, the Pioneer Bore where in 1885 Blackall became the first town in Queensland to sink a artesian bore to a depth of 800m, the Blackall Aquatic Centre with its hot artesian spa and the Blackall Wool scour which is an authentic, unique, full of history living museum that has a direct physical link to Australia’s pioneering era. One of the sights to become very popular in recent years is the Blackall Saleyards. Because of the popularity with tourists, a tourist walkway has been built so visitors can obtain a birds eye view of how thousands of cattle are sold. Sale day is every Thursday but check with the local Stock and Station agents in town.
The Heart Land Festival starts on Friday evening with a street party in Shamrock Street, the main street. This a good time to meet some of the locals and enjoy the entertainment, the food, local stalls and local art. Siting out under a outback sky makes for a very pleasant evening.
Saturday is race day. Dress up in your best race wear and enter “Fashions on the Field”. The atmosphere and friendliness of everyone from the young to the older racer goers makes it a memorable day. In the evening, Travis Collins and his band played for those wanting to dance the night away.
On Sunday all the action was at the Showgrounds, commencing with a shearers breakfast where everyone was entertained by renowned bush poets Jack Drake and Bill Kearns. Throughout the day there was always something to entertain you, ranging from Blade Shearing demonstrations, camp cooking by Ranger Nick, colour me outback fun run, gardening, wool drying and spinning demonstrations plus the famous B.B.Q cookoff competition where you are welcome to sample the food. Later in the afternoon Travis Collins and his band entertained everyone before the closing of the festival.
If you want to experience what it is like to live in the outback and feel part of the local community albeit for just a short time then I strongly recommend you make the journey for the Heartland Festival – We loved it!