Charleville is an iconic outback township in western Queensland. It is a major service centre for the region.
Location: 750 km from Brisbane; 300 m above sea-level on the banks of the Warrego River.
Qantas operates daily from Brisbane and Skytrans fly to Charleville twice a week from Brisbane and Birdsville. Charleville Airport is around 4km from the town centre.
By train: The Queensland Rail Westlander makes two trips a week from Brisbane Roma Street Station via Toowoomba and Roma. The trip each way runs overnight and takes around 18 hours. First and second class sleepers and upright seats are available on the train. The train has a buffet car with a small bar seating area. The trip is usually quiet enough that most passengers can comfortably sit around the bar in the evening. The fares are usually a little cheaper than flying, and there are half-price fares for children.
By car: Charleville is at the junction of the Mitchell and Warrego Highways. It is around around 750km from Brisbane along the Warrego, and around 1200km to Sydney via the Mitchell Highway. Both routes are sealed.
By bus: Greyhound has a daily coach service to Charleville from Brisbane and Toowoomba and a daily service from Longreach.
Charleville Bilby Experience: Learn how the Bilbies, once extinct in the Charleville area, are being bred, and released into the wild. The Bilby Centre has evening talks and bilby viewing. Tours operate Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday nights from April to October. Tours unavailable Mid Octiber through to 1 April. Entry fees apply. Location: National Parks Centre in Park Street.
The Cosmos Centre & Observatory: An Astronomy Centre which has displays and interactive exhibits during the day. It has an evening outdoor telescope viewing through three powerful 12-inch Meade telescopes. Book ahead for the Observatory Session, and dress warmly as outback nights are very cold April to September. Join the guides on short talk about shooting and falling stars, the quirky and unusual planets, creating colours with Hubble. There is also a movie and seven hands-on displays. Entry fees apply. Location: Qantas Drive (4 km from town centre)
The Southern Queensland base of the Royal Flying Doctor Service is located on the Old Cunnamulla Road to the east of town. It is open for inspection from 8.00 am - 4.00 pm daily. While most other Flying Doctor bases tend to show videos on the workings of the service the Charleville office is proud of the fact that visitors are taken through a working operation.
Next door at the School of Distance Education (previously known as the School of the Air). There is a viewing area beside the studio where visitors can listen in on the lessons. The school includes students from as far afield as Fraser Island in the east to Hungerford in the south-west. An excellent information book outlining its functions and educational techniques is available.
Steiger Gun: To the south of town (on the western side of the road, in front of the scout hall) are the town's Steiger Guns, a kind of Vortex gun. Vortex guns are the remnants of failed attempt to make rain by altering the surrounding air pressure. They never worked, and a couple of them are on display in the park, with a few explanatory panels, one reading: 'Steiger Vortex Rainmaker Gun. One of ten guns used by the Queensland Government Meteorologist Prof. Clement Wragge at Charleville, September 26 1902.' It was a vain attempt to induce a deluge and thus break the drought which had been going on since 1896.
Wragge persuaded the authorities in Brisbane to build Steiger guns which he duly placed around Charleville. They were all filled with gunpowder and ignited. Nothing happened. That night Wragge addressed a group of local citizens in Aeschimann's Hall in Charleville but was greeted with considerable scepticism and derision. He left town the next day.
Wyandra is around 100km South of Charleville on the Cunnumulla Road, between the two towns. It is pretty outback town, with scenic views, a heritage trail (4wd) and a beach on the Warrego River. In days gone by, the whole community would gather there to celebrate Christmas Day with picnics, swimming and playing in the sand. Life Energy Water is sourced and bottled in Wyandra. It has a soft and sweet taste, drawn from a deep and pure ancient source.
The town's Powerhouse and two National engines were moved here from Cunnamulla in 1955. Prior to that time there was no electricity supply. The powerhouse was designed as a one man 24 hour operation with the superintendent living next door.