This central western town is built on history and characters.

Story + Photos Hannah Seward

The quiet pastoral town of Blackall is a surprising kind of place. Located in central-west Queensland, it sits on the Matilda Highway alongside the mighty Barcoo River, surrounded by vast plains of grassland – ideal for running stock. 

The region was first explored in 1846 by Sir Thomas Mitchell, who quickly recognised the grazing potential of the native grasses (hence the now well-known Mitchell grass), paving the way for significant pastoral development. The growing settlement was named in 1868 after Queensland’s second governor, Sir Samuel Blackall – making 2018 the 150th anniversary of Blackall officially becoming a town. 

Today, Blackall supports a population of around 1500 people. Amazingly, the town’s only water supply flows directly from the Great Artesian Basin, streaming out of taps at a steamy 58–62 degrees Celsius all year round. The challenge here is not how to heat water, but how to cool it down! 

This story excerpt is from Issue #123

Outback Magazine: February/March 2019