Approximately 750 kilometres from Brisbane and forming the western terminus of the Warrego Highway, Charleville is the administrative centre for the Shire of Murweh. The town exudes the peace, quiet and easy living of the real country. Spreading out along the banks of the Warrego River Charleville has a wide range of facilities for locals and visitors including a golf course, swimming pool, bowling green and public library.
Awash with bush-style tourist attractions such as the Warrego River and Native Timber Walks, Historic House Museum and organised tours by air, road and foot the town also has some incredible offerings unique to the area.
Make sure you check these out because it's only in Charleville you will get to see them:
The Cosmos Centre, situated at the Charleville Airport, is where you can actually straddle the border between the outback and the cosmos. Charleville's night skies are clear and unaffected by city lights and pollution enabling you to be guided across the night sky through powerful telescopes.
If you can't make it at night time don't worry. During the day the Cosmos Centre has a number of activities to enjoy. Such as, holding a meteorite from outer space, learn how time, light and gravity fit together and take the 'Journey to Infinity' in the Cosmos Theatre.
See how the medical, radio and flying equipment has changed over the years and learn how the Flying Doctor takes pride always in its long and distinguished history.
While you're out at the airport you might also learn of a secret or two. By taking the Top Secret WWII Tour and joining local guides learn the reasons behind why the United States commandeered the Charleville airport in 1942 and set up a top secret base.
Eventually covering approximately 25 square kilometres, containing 101 buildings housing 3500 American personnel the base and its operations remained secret for a long, long time. Now the site is a true archaeological dig with many of the sites being rediscovered and explained. You can join a daily guided tour in your own car (high clearance vehicle preferably) for a small fee. Bookings are essential at the Charleville Visitor Information Centre.
So, I hear you wonder, just how do you keep something that large a secret? All will be revealed after you are sworn to secrecy on the tour!
As you head back into town from the airport make a stop at Graham Andrews Parklands where you can feed the ducks and enjoy a stroll through the gardens constructed after the 1990 flood. An outback oasis with a lake, Native Timber Walk, Vortex Guns, Working Windmill, adventure playground, picnic shelters and free BBQ's this is a wonderful spot to relax and unwind. If you are really lucky, as I was, you might even see the town's geese take their right-of-way as they cross the road to enjoy the delights of the Parklands.
The Parklands also contain the unique relic from Charleville's 1902 unsuccessful attempt by Clement Lindley Wragge to fire Vortex Rainmaking Guns into the clouds in order to break a drought. Read the history and reasoning behind this enterprise during your visit.
The highlight of any visit to Charleville is back in town at the Charleville Railway Station – the Bilby Centre. One of Australia's most endangered species, the bilby is the subject of intense research and conservation at the Centre. Normally open from 9.00am to 4.00pm Monday to Saturday from April to October. Outside this period if you make contact with the Centre the friendly staff will try to make sure you have the opportunity to see a bilby.
General entry is FREE. There are 2 shows offered daily, Up Close and Personal and The Bilby Experiencewhere admission is charged so, if you want to be amazed at this little critter check this link to find out how.
But don't limit yourself to the town; there are some really interesting experiences close by. For example, head 26 kilometres south of Charleville on the Mitchell Highway to the Angellala Bridge Explosion Site, where in 2014 a truck carrying 53 tonnes of ammonium nitrate caught fire, crashed and exploded at Angellala Creek. The blast destroyed the road and historical rail bridges and was felt over 30 kilometres away.
An interpretive area is off to the side of the new bridge and contains information and images of the devastation.
An hour's drive north of Charleville will get you to Augathella. I can recommend the hamburger and chips ($11) at the Ellangowan Hotel followed by a walk up past Meat Ant Park to a remarkable town dunny – sorry, public convenience.
Charleville will surprise. It has many very interesting attractions and a significant place in Queensland and Australian history. It's an easy drive out and an easy place to get around with all levels of accommodation, restaurants and entertainment on hand. I had a great time and I'm sure you will too.