The memory of one of Eulo’s most colourful residents is preserved in the Eulo Queen Hotel.

Story and photos Martin Aldist

Publican Jeffrey ‘Jacko’ Jackson grins when he describes the woman after whom the Eulo Queen Hotel, in Eulo, Qld, is named. “She must have been a looker,” Jacko says. “She was 53 years old, but she put 35 on her marriage licence.”

Jacko is talking about Isabel Robinson-Gray, who arrived in Eulo, on the banks of the Paroo River west of Cunnamulla, in the late 1880s. With her second husband, Richard Robinson, she became a hotel keeper at the Royal Mail Hotel in 1889. At that time, Eulo was an important Cobb & Co staging post for coaches travelling between Cunnamulla and Thargomindah, and was at the junction of the route to Hungerford. “Importantly for Isabel,” Jacko says, “Eulo was also close to three major opal-mining fields.”

One can only assume that business boomed. The Robinsons subsequently acquired the other two hotels in Eulo, along with a store and a butcher’s shop, thus controlling most of the town’s economy. Isabel was a canny business woman who developed a passion for opals, often accepting them as payment. She is said to have amounted a vast collection of opals, opal-clad jewellery and other garments worth over £4000.

Isabel employed a number of young women to provide intimate entertainment for the passing opal miners, graziers and other travellers. Her reputedly voluptuous physical assets, combined with an outgoing personality and a broad-minded husband, allowed Isabel to also operate as a successful escort. She became known as ‘The Eulo Queen’.

This story excerpt is from Issue #113

Outback Magazine: June/July 2017