I didn’t really have any expectations for Charleville, and had not even really done a lot of research on it. I’d googled it and figured out there was a bit to do there, including a cosmos centre which I knew the kids would like and a ww2 tour which I knew Joel and Archie would like but other then that I had not even looked at places to camp. I think sometimes this works out to our advantage though because once in Cunnamulla and then again in Yowah when we said we were headed to Charleville we were told to make sure we stay at the Evening Star Tourist Park which is about 10 kms out of town but worth the extra driving. Word of mouth is honestly the best advertising because otherwise I may have missed this absolute gem of a place!
The Evening Star Tourist Park is everything you could want. Big drives through sites, power, water and damper around the communal bonfire every night with live music to add to the atmosphere. We ended up staying 5 nights and easily could have stayed more. They also offer a stargazing tour at the park which we booked into for the second night there. The amenities are clean, the sites are large and there’s walking tracks around the whole place, one of which leads to an old shearing shed that has been restored complete with collection of old shearing bits and pieces. Apparently normally there’s even a bar and they hold campfire dinners once a week but again covid has won that battle and both those are unavailable for the rest of this year, although even without those options it’s such a great atmosphere around the fire at 4.30 every afternoon and you’re made to feel very welcome, kids included.
As it turns out the National Stock Route runs just past this park and amazingly a 2000 head cattle drive camped just on the other side of the fence while we were staying there and then herded the cattle past early the next morning. It was such a fascinating thing to see. I’m not sure how often this stuff happens anymore, maybe it’s heaps out here? But for us it felt like a once in a lifetime thing to see, and we loved watching them to do their thing. There was men, woman and kids on horses and the morning light set the scene for one of the best mornings on the trip so far! This morning is one I will never forget as long as I live.
Our first stargazing experience took place at the Evening Star Tourist Park, we were taken on a little walk through a path of pretty lights down to the shearing shed, we stopped along the way and some constellations were pointed out, we saw Scorpio and Libra, which all 4 of us are. And we saw for the first time the warrior in the sky, which is now my favourite thing to find in the night sky. It was such a clear, beautiful night, with not much moon, you couldn’t get better I don’t think for looking at the stars, although it was cold too. I think coldness and stargazing must go hand in hand! But luckily we were prepared and had all the layers on as well as blankets to wrap ourselves up in, plus I’m grateful Ashton curled up in my lap for the entire night, I had my own little hot blanket keeping me warm. It was such a special experience with the kids. We got to see what they call the jewel box which is a collection of all different coloured stars, the emu in the sky, Jupiter, and Saturn were so clear that you could actually see the rings on Saturn through the telescope. Seeing Saturn for the first time and being able to share that with my kids will forever be something I am grateful for! We all learnt so much, and the hot chocolate to warm you from the inside out halfway through was just perfect, this one night alone was what memories are made of.
Our second experience stargazing turned into our 3rd, 4th and 5th pretty quickly! We booked every tour they had running at the cosmos centre in Charleville and the kids spent hours in the free part of the centre learning about space travel and listening to the recordings on the stories of the stars. It’s really quite incredible how much they take in and the things they learn from these places. Our second experience called a sun viewing and meant we could look at the sun through the day using a telescope. We all enjoyed this tour, and it was a lot warmer then the night time ones that’s for sure. We learnt quite a lot. We did two more night time tours at the Cosmos centre, both night tours and both with cloudy sky’s. The last night we were booked in at the cosmos centre for a similar tour to the one we had done at Evening Star called big sky observatory and we actually got a phone call saying it would need to be called off due to all the clouds. As it turned out it went ahead and we got to do it in the end. We enjoyed it, however because of the cloud our guide had to mix it up a bit and work around them, he did a good job, though I’m so glad we got a clear night for the Evening Star one, it was unforgettable. Another tour we did here was the universal dreaming tour, this involved a campfire, marshmallows and tales from the ancestors, the traditional stories of the stars, moon and sky. All really good in their own ways but neither of these tours compared to that first night at the Evening Star with that perfect clear sky and the tour guide that was so knowledgeable and amazing at keeping us interested, still so glad we did them though, the sky is such an incredible thing to learn about!
The Secrets of WW2 tour was actually really good. I’m not going to lie, it was not high on my things I want to do list but both Joel and Archie love the history of the wars and if it’s one in, then we are all in so we all went along for the tour. For this one you have a tour guide in his car but you follow in your own car. You stop at interesting WW2 sites around the area and get told all about them. There’s actually heaps of these and we only saw a smattering of what was actually there. I was very surprised at how much war history there is around Charleville, I had no idea how much this area was used during the war! This is actually where I learnt about what they used to call the Brisbane line. Apparently if they began to lose the war and the foreign troops were coming down from the top end, they had drawn a line and were going to offer them the top half of Australia if we could keep the bottom half, I reckon they were willing to give away the best part, well the best part in Winter anyway! Haha. Interesting stuff though. The kids didn’t even whinge so it must have been a pretty good tour, that’s pretty much how we measure if the tours are good or bad these days, how much the kids whine, it’s a pretty good indication!
We made a quick visit to the Historic House Museum which is jam packed full of every old thing you could ever imagine, including old bottles, cash registers, cars and even trains, the kids weren’t much into this one, however I’ve never really been a lover of old things (just ask my sister who loves old things and doesn’t get how I’m not into them.) but seeing the history in this house actually really did make me appreciate the history that is there! The old Cobb and Co carriage is in good nic, if only those walls could talk!
The first day we pulled up at Evening star Tourist park, Craig, one of the owners mentioned that if we wanted to throw some traps in the dam we could possibly pull out some Blue Claw Crayfish. Joel has caught crab a lot in his lifetime but never tried to catch crayfish. We also met John and Wendy at Yowah, they were staying at the evening star too, and he happened to be an old hand at it so he took us and showed us the ropes. We had a great time and caught lots of baby blue claw and on the last morning managed to catch one big one. It was one of those moments that I think we’ll remember forever, the kids loved it, we loved it and even John and Wendy got a laugh out of how excited we all were I think! Needless to say they all got thrown back in the dam, even the big one so if you’re staying there be sure to go and try and catch some!
We visited the Royal Flying Doctor visitor centre, it was interesting to see how far this service has come and the hardships these rural stations and townships face when someone is sick or gets hurt. The saying ‘they breed ‘em tough out here’ is one that I think rings true simply because there would really be no other choice but to be tough! Imagine falling off a horse, having broken bones or worse but having to wait hours for a plane to fly in to get help to you! The visitor centre is done really well with lots of information and some interactive stuff for the kids to do. We had one child that loved this one and one that like it for a minute but was ready to leave after about 5 minutes. The adults likes it though, so 3 out of 4 ain’t bad!
Did you know that in the drought of 1902, a man was employed to bring what was called a rain vortex in to Charleville. These things shot chemicals into the atmosphere and were supposed to bring rain. It didn’t work, but 3 of the vortex are now proudly placed in a beautiful park in the middle of town. We vote this the craziest story we’ve heard on our travels so far, worth the stop to read all about it. Australia sure is a land of droughts and flooding rains and crazy stories! We spent a bit of time at this park, it has a great playground for kids and we set up and got some work done for our businesses while the kids ran crazy on the playground, it was the perfect distraction for them so we could achieve something for the week.
All in all we loved Charleville and what it had to offer, outback Queensland is so welcoming to travellers, even during this crazy corona time. There’s plenty to see and do and the kids have settled back into travelling beautifully! We’re all loving the journey at the moment and feeling grateful that we’re able to do it!