Sheep and beef cattle rearing are the main industries in this area, but it’s fair to say that the number of people stopping by to see the disarmingly exquisite Tree of Knowledge sculpture, which commemorates the 1891 shearer’s strike (and the bones of the Australian labour movement) is an industry in itself. The main street features a number of sprawling old Queenslander style pubs – for anyone who’s familiar with the TV Series Deadwood, you can imagine Al Swearengen standing on a balcony scowling out over his domain while a fiddle saws ominously in the background. Barcaldine has some startling architecture, the tin-clad Masonic Lodge, the cavernous Barcaldine Radio Theatre, perfect Post Office, and the stately, tropical plantation-style dream that is the Town Hall. There’s a special allure to the railway station, too – you can stand on the platform that pulls away like horizontal vertigo to study the chalked timetable, and get a real feeling for how rail travel must have revolutionised the outback.
Tickets available online and at the Barcaldine Regional Council office.