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Augathella - Meat Ant Territory

Home > Sunshine Coast > Adventure | Escape the City | Fun Things To Do | Places of Interest | Travel
by Susan J Bowes (subscribe)
Writing for pleasure to showcase the best Australia has on offer.
Published October 7th 2022
Augathella, another amazing Queensland town to visit
On researching the small outback towns that I would pass through or by on my outback holiday, I learnt that Augathella had some interesting facts that could entice a traveller to make the time to turn off the highway and call in for a visit.

Augathella, Near Charleville, Queensland, History, Travel, Learn Something, Fun Things to Do
Approaching the Town of Augathella (Author's Photo)


The name Augathella is thought to be derived from an Aboriginal word meaning water or waterhole as the town sits along the Warrego River, however, like so many other small towns in Queensland, Augathella has been known by other names. So, if your ancestors were born in Burenda Township or Ellangowan, you can be sure they were born in Augathella.

Augathella, Near Charleville, Queensland, History, Travel, Learn Something, Fun Things to Do, Camping
Ellangowan Hotel, Hearty Meal, Coffee and Cold Beer (Author's Photo)


On driving into Augathella, the first icon I saw was the brightly coloured water tower, which is situated on a hillier part and overlooks the town below. The mural on the tower depicts the town's colourful history of bullock teams and notorious bush rangers who camped along the Warrego River. Painted on the tower is a bullock team, a boundary rider, a windmill and an old man emu.

Augathella, Near Charleville, Queensland, History, Travel, Learn Something, Fun Things to Do, Camping
Augathella Colourful Water Tower (Author's Photo)


Through my research, I found Augathella was famous for a large sculpture of a Meat Ant located in its park and as I am crazy to see all the "Big" things in Australia, this was one to add to my collection. Along the highway, a Trivia Stay Alert Sign also gave me the question and an answer to the 1960s Augathella football team, which were called the "Meat Ants". The football team was rather aggressive on the field, as are Meat Ants to other ants and the team also wore maroon jerseys and blue shorts, which matched the colours of a Meat Ant's body. The big sculpture, which was created by Amanda Feher and installed in 2022 is of brass, copper and steel construction.

Augathella, Near Charleville, Queensland, History, Travel, Learn Something, Fun Things to Do, Camping
Icon BIG Meat Ant Sculpture (Author's Photo)


Toilet stops are always important when travelling and I was impressed with the besser block public convenience construction, again painted with murals depicting the colonial settlers, a house, a horse and carriage and a public meeting place. The toilets were very clean and smelled fresh with a pleasant fragrance.

Augathella, Near Charleville, Queensland, History, Travel, Learn Something, Fun Things to Do, Camping
Community Pubic Convenience, Augathella (Author's Photo)


From there, I decided to walk down Main Street to see what other stories this town could tell. For a small town, Augathella certainly had a lot of shops currently operating – Friendly Grocer, Hairdressing Salon, Butchery, Ellangowan Hotel, Smiley's Café, Country Arts – Visitors Centre, which I found also operated as a bank agency for locals and tourists, BP Roadhouse, Hospital, School, Police Station and more. Although the size of the town did not look large, I am sure it also services many outlying stations. Inside the Visitors Centre is a gallery and small cinema where on exhibition is over one hundred and fifty photographs of the area. A small movie is shown in the cinema and is well worth a watch.

Augathella, Near Charleville, Queensland, History, Travel, Learn Something, Fun Things to Do
Stop and Watch the Film Shown Here (Author's Photo)


An old tin building that once housed a cinema, although not sure if this is still operating, has an amazing mural painted of the film Smiley. The mural commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the 1956 Australian film Smiley, which was about a boy growing up in Augathella. This boy was determined to buy a bicycle for four pounds and the film shows the many misadventures he met along this journey. The film is also based on the 1945 novel of the same name written by Moore (Neville) Ramond, a local schoolteacher who also co-wrote the film with Anthony Kimmins. The book was based on Ramond's childhood friend Didy 'Smiley' Creevey, who passed away in 1972. This is just another amazing example of the stories found in the outback!

Augathella, Near Charleville, Queensland, History, Travel, Learn Something, Fun Things to Do, Camping
1956 Film SMILEY painted on building in Main Street Augathella


I came across the Kenniff Brothers bush rangers' monument in Mitchell but also found that these notorious brothers had a connection with Augathella as well. Apparently, Augathella was the base from which the Kenniff brothers operated for approximately thirteen years and is the closest centre to the site of the double murder of a Policeman and Station Manager. On the corner of Jane Street, a tree stands where the brothers left their horses while in town and was also an inconspicuous place to make a quick getaway if required.

Augathella, Near Charleville, Queensland, History, Travel, Learn Something, Fun Things to Do
Kenniff Brothers Tree, (Author's Photo)


Also, by researching, I found that most of the town is heritage listed. These being:

  • Annie Street: Catholic School 

  • Cavanagh Street: Hospital 

  • Cavanagh Street: Queensland Country Women's Association 

  • Elmes Street: Rodeo Grounds 

  • Forest Street: Augathella Water Tower 

  • Jane Street (corner of Cavanagh Street): Kenniff Tree 

  • Main Street: Arts and Craft Centre (former Helton's Building) 

  • Main Street: Butcher shop 

  • Main Street: Police station 

  • Main Street: Post office 

  • Main Street: Town Hall

  • Main Street: War Memorial Hill 

  • Main & Annie Streets: Ellangowan Hotel 

  • 61 Main Street: St Luke's Anglican Church 

  • Nelson Street: Old Water Tower 

  • off Russell Street: Cemetery 

  • off West Street: Augathella Racecourse

    If travelling and requiring a stop, you can book into the Palms Motel, which has cabin-style units or if you are looking for a free camp, plenty of space is found on the banks of the Warrego River where Black Butt trees provide a shady resting place. These same trees provided rest for the bullock teams of the past as Augathella was the main stop for drovers heading between Queensland and New South Wales.

    Augathella, Near Charleville, Queensland, History, Travel, Learn Something, Fun Things to Do, Camping
    Free Camping on Warrego River, Augathella (Author's Photo)


    Augathella is approximately eighty-five kilometres north of Charleville in the Shire of Murweh and its main events are an annual rodeo and a Christmas celebration in the Meat Ant Park each December.
  • Help us improve  Click here if you liked this article  139
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    Where: Augathella, Queensland
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    Your Comment
    You have proved once again Susan that every town, settlement or area has a history. On road trips it would be nice to stop at everyone. We now know what Augathella has to offer.
    by Neil Follett (score: 3|4476) 58 days ago
    Silo art seems to be increasing across rural towns. A great boost to tourism and design for the community.
    by Gillian Ching (score: 3|5789) 57 days ago
    Great article - lovely town to visit.
    by Di Hill (score: 2|654) 57 days ago
    Ok, I'm up for another couple of days in the country. Thanks Susan.
    by May (score: 2|940) 56 days ago
    What an excellent account of the town's attractions and history. Travellers availing themselves of the free camping will hopefully stay longer and spend money in town.
    by howar (score: 1|45) 56 days ago
    What an excellent account of the town's attractions and history. Travellers availing themselves of the free camping will hopefully stay longer and spend money in town.
    by howar (score: 1|45) 56 days ago
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