Discover the capital of the Bulloo Shire

Let me introduce you to another tiny bush town. Thargomindah is the hub of the Bulloo Shire in the south west corner of Outback Queensland. Like any other township in Outback Australia it has its very own flair and history. That's why I love them all. Aussie bush towns are never boring if you care to discover their secrets.

The tree-lined main street in Thargomindah, an  Outback town in south-west QueenslandMain street in Thargomindah

Established in 1874 on the banks of the Bulloo river, the town is 200km west of Cunnamulla on the Bulloo Developmental Road, also called Adventure Way.

Thargomindah was the first town in Australia, and next to London and Paris, the third in the world, with electrical street lighting generated by hydro power, thanks to the water pressure of the Artesian Basin.

An Artesian bore is the water supply of ThargomindahHot water coming out of the town bore.

Landscapes in the Bulloo region vary and are ever changing from dry red dust to marooned mud. You'll always experience a special Outback feeling. The name Thargomindah is an Aboriginal word meaning cloud of dust. Well, during one of my visits the town was fairly wet, far away from dusty :).
With the trees along Bulloo river and lots of greenery within the town, I actually thought it was a fairly "green" Outback village.

Some Quick Facts about Thargomindah

  • Population: 270 (2016 census)
  • Location: Approx. 1,100 km north-west of Brisbane, on the Adventure Way
  • State: Queensland
  • Post Code: 4492
  • Time Zone: Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST)
  • Best time to visit: April to October is the best time to visit to avoid the summer heat.
  • Facilities: Thargomindah offers all services travellers need. Click here to find out more about accommodation and other services.
An Outback sunsetSunset at the caravan park

Points of interest in Thargomindah

Take the heritage walk in town, stroll along Bulloo river, explore the rich history of the region.

  • The Post Office opened in 1870 and is one of four remaining mud brick houses. It was destroyed by a storm in 1877. It's interior was burnt in 1952. It still serves as a post office after a turbulent life.
  • The old hospital on the outskirts of town was built in 1888 and served as a hospital for 55 years. Today it is home of the visitor information centre and a small museum.

An historic house in ThargomindahLeahy Historic House

The historic house was built in 1885 by John Leahy from local mud bricks. In 1912 well-known pastoralist Sidney Kidman bought the house for his travelling manager.
Today the house is owned by the historical society and open for the public, It is worth a visit to see the memorabilia.

River scenery in ThargomindahGnarled gumtree along the Bullo river walk

Take the Bulloo River walk from the Cobb & Co crossing to the caravan park. Enjoy the old trees and great scenery. I truly love to stroll along the river, and do it on every visit.

Old trees along the Bulloo riverCobb & Co crossing & the Bullo bridge

In the late 19th century the town was a Cobb & Co. station. From here coaches serviced settlements like Hungerford, Wompah and Toompine. You can still see the stone crossing in the Bulloo river used by the coaches.

Attractions in the neighbourhood

  • Currawinya National Park - The main attraction in the park are Lake Numalla (freshwater) and Lake Wyara (salt water). The wetlands make the park a great place for bird-watching. The National Park's area was once a grazing property. Relics of buildings and machinery are of interest for those interested in heritage.
    There's a project running to re-introduce the bilby which has nearly disappeared in Queensland.
    Currawinya NP is about 200 km south-east near Hungerford and the border to New South Wales. You better have a high clearance vehicle to explore the park.
  • Lake Bindegolly National Park is just 35 km east of Thargo. It is a place for nature's enthusiasts. Access to the park and its three lakes is only by foot to protect the fragile nature. There's a 9,2 km walking trail along Lake Bindegolly.
  • Take the Dowling Track to Hungerford on the Queensland/New South Wales border. The Royal mail hotel from 1873 still exists and serves the local population of 12. Hungerford is close to the Currawinya National Park.
  • Noccundra is about 145 km west of Thargomindah on the banks of the Wilson river. In the early 1880s a stone hotel was built which is heritage listed today. Enjoy a cold drink in the beer garden or on the veranda before you head out further into remote areas.

The Hydro Power Plant in Thargomindah

The artesian water bore that provided the water power was drilled in 1893. Water pressure was so powerful that the local council decided to build a power plant. Lights in the street went on in the same year.

The hydro-electric power plant continued to supply Thargomindah with electricity until 1951 when it was replaced with a generator driven by a diesel engine.

The Pelton Wheel is a wheel driven by a jet of water from an Artesian Basin bore. It is connected to dynamos by a shaft and uses the energy of the water to provide electricity. As the demand for electricity rises, a valve is opened to increase the speed of the water wheel and when the load decreases, the water is cut.
The original water-wheel was made locally (probably by local blacksmith Joe Hood) to the design of Mr. Holmes, the engineer to the Division board. It is said to have a casing made from a ship's water tank.
(information from the displays in the shed at the town bore)

Pelton Wheel at the Hydro Power Plant in ThargomindahHydro Power Plant

The artesian bore just 1 km outside town is worth a visit. There's a replica of the original shed, and a display of all types of renewable energy. Inside the shed are many original items including a working Pelton wheel.

I was very lucky and received a private demonstration how they produced electricity in the early days. It really was a highlight when the water roared through the wheel, and the bulbs went on in the shed.

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