Blackall is a gorgeous Outback town on the banks of the Barcoo River, just off the Landsborough Highway. It is a town filled with fascinating history, world records, art, spirit and much more! Here are 10 facts that you may not know about Blackall. Let us know on Facebook if you knew all 10, or you think there is a little-known fact that we missed!
1. The world record for shearing was set in 1892 in Blackall
In 1892, blade shearer John Robert “Jackie” Howe set a world record by shearing 321 sheep in seven hours and 40 minutes by hand. If you are ever in Blackall, be sure to visit his monument at the Universal Garden Centre on Shamrock Street.
2. Blackall was one of the first Queensland towns to sink an artesian bore
Back in 1885, Blackall became one of the first towns to drill for water. Even to this day, the town’s water supply comes from the Great Artesian Basin. You can check out the pioneer bore in town on Short Street.
3. The saying “beyond the black stump” comes from Blackall
Have you ever heard someone say “beyond the black stump” and wondered where the saying came from? When pioneers were first passing through Blackall, they described everything west of the town as “beyond the black stump”. You can find a replica of the stump in Blackall today.
4. Blackall is home to the last remaining steam-driven Woolscour in Australia
In Blackall, you can find the last remaining steam-operated wool-washing plant in Australia. In 2009, the Woolscour was restored for tourists. The machinery operates every day and is run on steam between May and August. If you want to learn more, we highly recommend visiting and joining in one one of the guided tours that run on the hour.
Did you know that acclaimed landscape and country music photographer John Elliott grew up in Blackall? Check out his #MyQueensland here!
5. Blackall was named after the Governor of Queensland at the time
Did you know that Blackall was named after Samuel Wensley Blackall? Samuel Wensley Blackall was the Governor of Queensland between 1868-1871.
6. The first meeting of the Shearers Union was held in Blackall
The Queensland Shearers Union was formed in Blackall in 1887 following strikes at Wellshot Station and surrounding properties the year prior. The union was formed to help combat farmers’ attempts to lower the shearing rate. In the main street of Blackall, you can find the Australian Federation Memorial, which commemorates where the first meeting was held.
7. Blackall once reached 45.7°C!
If you think it gets hot where you live, spare a thought for those in Blackall, who once suffered through a 45.7°C day! On the 3rd January 2014, Blackall broke its own record as temperatures soared.
8. Blackall is known as the Arts Capital of the West
Blackall is often known for its art, thanks to the impressive Blackall Sculpture Trail. If you love art, you will love this trail around town. Maps are available from the Blackall Visitor Information Centre.
9. The world record for the highest goat jump was set in Blackall
Did you know that Jackie Howe wasn’t the only one to set a world record in Blackall? In 1905, William “Roy” Dunne and his goat, Nugget, set a world record when they jumped over a 1.07-metre hurdle at the Blackall Showgrounds. Roy was only around 14 years old and seven stone at the time!
10. Blackall’s cemetery dates back to the 1800s
If you are interested in exploring the West’s pioneering history, then the Blackall Cemetery is a great place to start. There are over 2,000 graves in the cemetery, with some dating back as far as 1880. You can find Jackie Howe’s grave in the cemetery, as well as that of Roy Dunne.
Planning a visit to Blackall? Why not visit in August when the Better in Blackall Festival is on in 14th-18th August? There will be live music, street parties, wine tastings, billy-kart racing and more!
By Kate Nutting