Barcaldine’s charming facade, one that has earned it the tag of ‘Garden City of the West’, hides tumultuous tales of a controversial past.
In 1891, five years after the railway push into the outback helped to establish the township, Barcaldine became the headquarters of the great shearers’ strike. One thousand shearers laid down their blades in a defiant protest that reverberated around the nation and resulted in the formation of the Australia Labor Party and a graziers’ group that later evolved into the National Party. An enduring symbol of the strike lives on today in the Tree of Knowledge, the imposing memorial to the famous ghost gum in the town’s main street where the strike meetings were held. Unfortunately, the gum itself was poisoned in 2006, but the memorial built around the original stump is a wonderful display of modern art and timber workmanship.
The Australian Workers Heritage Centre is a national project commemorating not just these events, which changed the course of the nation’s working history, but is a tribute to all Australian working men and women. Set in over five acres of landscaped gardens, it is also home to the Wanpa-rda Matilda Outback Education Centre, which is a unique residential facility for schools and community groups.
Barcaldine is also home to the old world Radio Theatre, complete with its canvas seats, and the working windmill that pumps water into the sculpture designed and erected by the Youth of Barcaldine, which stands outside the information centre.
Barcaldine is situated at the junction of the Capricorn and Matilda (Landsborough) Highways. Many visitors use Barcaldine as a base from which to explore central west Queensland. The extensive range of accommodation and shopping facilities make Barcaldine a relaxing place to stay, recover and explore.