Writing for pleasure to showcase the best Australia has on offer.
Published May 16th 2021
Wyandra, a traveller's highlight in Western Queensland
Wyandra, why indeed and yes, indeed! The small township of Wyandra is halfway between Charleville and Cunnamulla and makes a pleasant and much-needed stop on the long road of nothing much in between.
Welcome to Wyandra (Author's Photo)
Being from the city, one can become complacent when there are more traffic lights than stop signs and bitumen roads than dirt tracks, so visiting outback towns is good for retraining the mind to remember basic driving skills such as not rolling through a stop sign and coming to a stop before taking off again, even if there is no one else on the crossroad. Not all Wyandra's roads are bitumen and when they are, they are quite small in width compared to what a city driver would be used to.
The Beauty of The Outback and Country Towns (Author's Photo)
Wyandra is a quiet outback town where children play on the roads and caravaners stop for the night en route. As many Australian towns mirror their names from other towns in England, the name "Wyandra" was originally given to a section on the Warrego River and the town originally named Claverton. It was renamed Wyandra in 1896.
Edmund Kennedy was the explorer who passed through Wyandra in 1847, camping on the river. In his diary, he noted that the river was a two-mile stretch of water, sixty yards broad. Today travellers can camp for free behind the State School with a free Dump Point or perhaps choose a powered site at the Caravan park in town for $20.00 a night. The latter has an outdoor cinema, hot showers, meals and daily BYO Happy Hour.
Free Camping or Paid Powered Sites, Dump Point (Author's Photo)
The only hotel still operating is The Gladstone, a family run business located across from the Railway Station in Railway Street. The Gladstone Hotel serves the usual pub and lunch options and seating can be inside or outside. There is a large pool table at the back of the dining room and a jukebox in the corner. On the day of my visit, burgers were the favourite of the day as many travellers were requesting these.
The Gladstone Hotel, Wyandra (Author's Photo)
The Post Office and General Store has everything from the usual grocery lines to gifts, fishing gear and other merchandise. Right next door to the General Store is a small building, which was the original Police Cells. These were used for decades, yet it is hard to believe such a small building would be sufficient - perhaps Wyandra did not have many who needed to stay the night there. Around the corner stands the present Police Station, which was erected in 1913.
Old Police Cell, Wyandra (Author's Photo)
Across the road from the Gladstone Hotel is 'Roach's Orchard'. Originally the area was owned by a Chinese Market Gardener who sold to Mr and Mrs Heyer. The Heyer's owned it for many years before selling once again to O. C. Roach in 1917. The area now has concreted walkways, and the garden is watered from the river. I was quite surprised to see flourishing citrus trees so far out west and thriving in an arid area, considering Citrus trees are native to subtropical and tropical areas.
Roach's Orchard, Wyandra (Author's Photo)
From my research before visiting Wyandra, I had read a lot about The Beach, which is an extremely popular swimming, picnic spot and fishing area for locals. Due to the large amount of recent rain, the road to The Beach was closed, however, I did take a walk down the dirt road for a look.
Local Picnic Spot & Swimming Hole, The Beach Wyandra (Author's Photo)
Although a new cemetery was zoned for Wyandra in 1911, a lone headstone stands in the old cemetery - a Mrs Bridget Grogan who died in September 1900 at the age of 45 years. Old residents of the community believe there are three other graves there but can no longer be seen above ground.
Wyandra's Old Cemetery (Author's Photo)
Wyandra's Roll of Honour Monument stands proudly on the corner of Warrego and Macks Streets and was erected by the residents in appreciation of those from the area who enlisted to serve in the Great War of 1914 to 1918.
Wyandra's Roll of Honour Monument (Author's Photo)
As with any new town, I visit I like to drive around each street to look at the age of houses, those that are falling down, those maintained, and any other places of interest shown. In the middle of Macks Street, I found Rumour Has It Shop and Café. Once an old butcher's shop, it has been remodelling by the new owner Hellen, into a café, small grocery store, gift store. The old butcher's cold room now houses cold drinks and on a hot day in the bush, people come from everywhere for the coldest of cold drinks to purchase from Rumour Has It Shop. It was indeed a gem of a find.
Rumour Has It Shop Gift Lines (Author's Photo)
Out the back, Hellen is in the process of creating a museum for the interest of travellers. While unearthing and levelling the ground at the back, Hellen came across hundreds of old work tools, motors, chains, copper boilers and much more; as well as already owning 1927 Pickup ute and beef cattle cart used by the farmers and butchers. A small hut that was already on the property has been cleaned and partially renovated. One of the farm owners donated a complete antique stove, which sets the scene for what would have been in use decades ago.
Rumour Has It Shop Museum Project (Author's Photo)
I sat at one of the tables on the front verandah while chatting to Hellen and enjoying a coffee. Rumour Has It Shop sells gift lines made by locals and sourced within Queensland, which includes leather belts and whips made by Nugget King, resident of Wyandra, Merino Wool Scarves and Glass Jewellery created by Jeannie from Norham Property. Jeannie does a cobweb colour design through the scarves. Other items to purchase are Manchester, cotton patches for sewers, mats, earrings made locally, clothing, children's toys, enamel and china mugs and accessories, recyclable coffee mugs and water bottles, soap, creams, grocery lines, as well as Wyandra's 1.5 litre bottles of Life Energy Alkaline Mineral Water from a deep underground aquifer in Wyandra. I can certainly say it tastes good and refreshing when chilled. If there is something you want and it not in Wyandra, I am sure Hellen will be happy to source it for you. Telephone for Rumour Has it Shop is 0401 258 777.
Jeannie from Norham makes these beautiful Merino Scarves (Author's Photo)
So please consider Wyandra as one of your stops when travelling in the West as this little town has plenty to offer a tourist.