ASPIRE CQ: Go West this long weekend
WHERE ARE you going this long weekend?
Go west young man, was the call back in mid-nineteen century to encourage Americans to head west for opportunity and colonise the ‘public’ lands.
Of course, a totally inappropriate phrase in this century, however the compass direction is still a good one to follow.
West is where you will find little Queensland treasures like Yaraka and Beetoota.
One you can call a town, the other, while an inspiration for the name of an infamous newspaper, is your real one pub town, that is if you can call a place that just has one pub and a permanent resident population of two a town, it used to be officially zero.
Last week Yaraka received near world-wide publicity.
Google ‘Yaraka emus’ and see the sources for the search result.
A photo posted by a visiting politician of the sign at the front of the hotel that bans emus from entering the pub, with the protesting emus beside it, went viral.
It’s not that it has been proven emus are able to read signs in Yaraka, it’s just if you don’t put the plastic chain at the top of the steps back on the hook as you enter, emus have been known to walk into the bar.
Now you’ve heard the story about the person with the short arms and deep pockets not paying for their shout, well emus have no arms and no pockets, so you don’t want to get in a round with them, then there is their toilet habit, or habit of not going to the toilet.
So, in this day and age, after consultation on the wording with a southern university, management now explains why the emus are not welcome at the bar with a sign at the front of the hotel.
Maybe they can read English, but can’t speak it; waiting on government funding for further studies on this!
Then have you heard the story of the driver who went 1200 kilometres out of his way to get a beer.
Apparently, that’s what you do out west when the UHF radio grapevine advises the Beetoota pub is back open for business after being closed for 23 years.
After all they serve the coldest beers and best pies in town.
It is politically safe to actually say that in Beetoota when you are the only business in town. The recently renovated century-old sandstone pub even has two honeymoon suites. No doubt there are a few socially distant Victorians at the moment itching to spend their honeymoon in Beetoota if they could.
But what else do you do once you’ve been to the Yaraka and Beetoota hotels; start a camp fire, set up your fold-out chair, chill and watch the stars.
There are millions of them. You might even see the famed min-min light.
Though Boulia may provide the best opportunity to see these mysterious lights, on the site of the old Min Min Hotel no less.
Burned down in the early 1900s, was it from a way too close encounter with the lights, it’s just down the road from Yaraka, a touch over eight hours further west.
Or a five hour drive north from Beetoota, that’s if you don’t stop to take in the magnificent scenery along the way.
Vastness is beautiful, just ask the numerous grey nomads who shook off the COVID-19 shackles and decided to again go west, in preference to the glitter and congestion of the Gold Coast.
Of course, if this far out west, you would kick yourself if you didn’t head into Birdsville, grab a countery at the pub, drive down and up Big Red then got a pie at the bakery.
And for your COVID camera memories take a photo of you crossing the Queensland border (after all not everybody can do that), into South Australia, the border is only walking distance, about 11 kilometres, but recommended to drive it and check road conditions first (and if you need a pass to get back), there are no dual lane bitumen highways here.
You might call all this quirky, but western Central Queensland has a lot of quirky treasures and stories waiting to be discovered by the rookie tourists, treasures that will bring many of them back.
So, this long weekend, while most Queenslanders arguably first think of going to the coast for the long weekend, go west instead, find out why a town of two is a must do and get a photo with the now world-famous emu named Kevin.
Or if you like a bit more time to plan, do the Beetoota Races next year - yeh a relative ghost town has a horse racing track and hosts a race day; only in Central Queensland.
Enjoy the long-weekend, enjoy CQ.