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From Charley's Creek to the watermelon capital of Australia.
K 1 Chinchilla-Museum Tourism-Queensland THUMB

 


  

 

    

 

 

THEN

The Chinchilla district was a place of delays for Leichhardt in 1844, some natural and some man-made. Creeks and lagoons alternated with flat, dry country and occasional stands of impenetrable scrub.

The campsite of 10 October did not receive its name ‘Charley’s Creek’ until 10 days later, when Leichhardt forgave his Aboriginal tracker for a passing disagreement. And it is said that he named the region after the local Aboriginal name for the native cypress pines, 'jinchilla' – of which there are still many in the town of Chinchilla today. As there is no record of this in his publshed Journal of the expedition, it seems the name was applied after Leichhardt returned to Sydney, where he prepared his notes and maps for publication.

After crossing the creek, Leichhardt encountered a thicket of cypress pines around a dense patch of Brigalow scrub. Persistent efforts to penetrate the scrub tore the packs from the bullocks and scattered the flour supplies. Heavy rain and storms then rendered the ground too boggy to continue.

A split of the party, with some reconnoitering to the north, led to several members missing for some days. It was only through Charley’s tracking skills that all were reunited on 20 October.

NOW

The Chinchilla Field Naturalists’ Club (or ‘the Field Nats’ as they are known locally) has been operating for more than 40 years, and maintains a strong and ongoing interest in all things Leichhardt in the region.

Regular excursions and events are offered, and the group is an active self-publisher of a range of interesting titles about the flora and fauna of the district. The zeal and passion with which the group’s members apply themselves to investigating the natural environment around them would do Ludwig’s spirit proud. “From Jimba to Dried Beef Creek” is the group’s signature Leichhardt publication – click here  for more details, or visit the CFNC website to find out more about their titles and activities.

The actual location where Leichhardt and his party crossed Charley’s Creek is today private property, although the Field Nats may be able to arrange a visit with prior notice. Chinchilla Museum offers insight into the unusual – its fine collection includes a non-working replica of a 1910 steam sawmill, steam engines, historic vehicles, period costumes and many interesting relics. The buildings include Goombi Hall, the Emmerson Building, the authentic slab hut, Wongongera Cottage, a blacksmith shop and the old jail. 

Today Chinchilla is known as the 'melon capital' of Australia as it produces around 25% of the country's watermelons.

Above: Eye-catching directions to the Chinchilla Museum. (Tourism Queensland)

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Above: A much more welcoming view of the Condamine River, near Chinchilla, in March 2012.
(Zorin09 / Wikimedia Commons)

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Above: Creek scene in Chinchilla.
(Property Sales and Rentals, Chinchilla)

 
 
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