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Borroloola - Things to See and Do

As with life; it is the journey as much as the destination that is special about this area. Over the years, many visitors to Borroloola have discovered here that same sense of "self" that has been much sought after by philosophers and religions down through the ages. The Dreamtime ancestors of the local people never had to search for it; they made this land, and that innate sense of self and moral responsibility is inextricably bound into the very features of the landscape. Should you wish to visit places off the beaten track in the region, you should consult the staff of the Northern Land Council before doing so; click here for general advice if you wish to pursue this option.

The Gulf Regional Tourist Information Centre in the Borroloola Community Government Council Centre has excellent free brochures with maps and lots of info; click here to go to their web site.

Borroloola Police Station Museum
This magnificent building has withstood the ravages of time, cyclones and the greatest outback aggressor of all, white ants, since its construction began in 1886. In 1998, with the sweat of lots of volunteers in place of that of the not long gone prisoners, it became a delightful museum owned and operated by the National Trust NT. Open every day, year round, it contains many snippets of Borroloola's past including one of the few surviving examples of the famous Borroloola library.
This comprehensive library provided reading for the whole community but as it succumbed to the ravages of white ants and "extended borrowing", the remnants were stored in the lock up. It proved an excellent way for the inmates, many of them notable characters, to while away their often lengthy sentences. The sounds of earnest debate by characters such as Roger Jose about the relevance of Marx' theories and the Latin verses of Virgil echoing along the banks of the McArthur River would have been a comfort indeed to their authors! The number of modern day locals with names like Pompey and Virgil bear testament to the widespread influence of these classical volumes in what may seem at first glance to be an unlikely location. To read a fascinating interview with people like Bill Harney, once an inmate, Ted Egan, and David Attenborough from his 1963 film "the Hermits of Borroloola", click here; it's fairly long but absorbing reading.

Pioneer Park
A whispering stand of luxuriant tamarind trees beside the Borroloola airstrip marks the site of what was once the finest building for hundreds of kilometres in any direction; Tattersall's Hotel. In it's heyday people used to line the verandahs to watch the running of the Borroloola Handicap, the racetrack having been very conveniently located right next to the hotel with the winning post directly in front of the pub!! Official racing started in July 1887 with a ten race program over two days that went on to become a very popular outback social event for many years. To read a little of the race days of that era, click here (pdf); Borroloola races are referred to page six forwards. The hotel was irreparably damaged by a cyclone in 1938; the main salvageable item being the water tank for Roger Jose's famous tank house, click here, wherein he lived quite happily for 45 years! The area is now a memorial park dedicated to the pioneers of the area; people like Musso Harvey and Willy Shadforth. RIP

Lynott's Lookout
This lookout is on the highest peak in Borroloola and is simple to find; just look for the tank, which contains the town's water supply. There's a road up with a small parking area at the top, and a panoramic view over the grasslands you just drove through.

Tom Lynott was a drover who managed McArthur River Station in its formative years and went on to become, amongst other things, the publican of Tattersall's Hotel. He was a prominent member of the community for many years but his most lasting legacy is McArthur River Mine. Although he had nothing to do with the mine, it is most probably his discovery of base metals as he rode around the station in the 1880's that first drew attention to the potential of the vast deposits now known to exist here. Click here to read a little more about the mines history.

Historic Graves
Although the modern day town cemetery is about 2km out of town, there are a number of old graves scattered around the town, mainly in the area near the airstrip. It's a very pleasant stroll in the morning or evening to wander around and find them; call it exercise if you prefer! The Tourist Information Centre has a little fact sheet to tell you a bit about each person and where to find them; Roger Jose is amongst those represented although his is a humble marker, much like the man.

Borroloola Rodeo
The Borroloola Amateur Rodeo is a lively affair, far truer to the origins of rodeo than the polished, professional events seen elsewhere. It is held in August every year in conjunction with the Borroloola Show weekend and should you be fortunate enough to be here at that time you're in for a rip-roaring weekend. The days rough riding bruises are first soothed with a few? cold beers, and then it's time for a few more bruises in Fred Brophy's boxing tent! The arrival of this outback icon, the last survivor of what used to be an extremely popular form of bush entertainment, is eagerly anticipated every year. Click here to see Fred in action at that other outback classic, the Birdsville Races.

Bing Bong Lookout
Despite travelling close to the Gulf of Carpentaria for hundreds of kilometres to get here, it's nowhere to be seen! Wrong! Located at the end of the two lane bitumen leading to the Bing Bong Concentrate Loading Facility is an elevated lookout platform with magnificent views of the port, the glistening waters of the Gulf and the islands of the Sir Edward Pellew Group just offshore. The lookout was donated by MRM to enable visitors to overlook the dredged channel, barge and associated infrastructure that goes with loading 400,000 tonnes of concentrate a year into a 3,300 tonne barge and then reloading it into bulk ore carriers 20km offshore! The concentrate contains mainly zinc but includes nearly 2 million ounces of silver annually! The pleasant drive, finishing at the unusual shell grit coastal dunes is well worth it. To read a bit about the port, click here.

There is a good 4WD track around the port facility for all you fisho's. It's only a few km's to Mule Creek which has a useable boat ramp and provides quick and easy access to the Gulf; a top spot but watch out for the sand bar across the mouth at low tide! Look carefully at photo left after you expand it!

One of the islands offshore from Bing Bong is North Island, site of Barranyi National Park, the Territory's newest, and only island, national park. This isolated and unspoiled wilderness park provides a unique opportunity for a combined wilderness and cultural experience. Click here for more information, then scroll down to the "Fact Sheet" to download a PDF map, or just click here; and you'll have no trouble finding your way around.

King Ash Bay Fishing Club
Along the road to Bing Bong, about 20km past Borroloola, you will pass a turnoff to the east signposted Batten Point/King Ash Bay. This gravel road leads 22km to the location of many an anglers dream; the Fishing Club! Their web site will give you details of the various services available and all manner of information about matters fishy. There are ample camping sites for members and prospective members at the club along with ablution blocks, bar facilities etc. The Barra Classic held annually at Easter is very popular and is hotly contested by visitors and locals alike.

Here are some links to a few fishing/fishy stories to whet your appetite. Click away!!

Dedication: Colac, Victoria to the Gulf in the trusty Falcon and well worth it

Talk about die hard fishermen; check 'em out!

Barramundi big time; offshore at the Loo

Anything about fishing anywhere, including satellite weather for your area!

Scenic Flights
The only company with a permanent presence in Borroloola is Savannah Aviation. Click here to go to their great web site, and don't miss looking at their links pages. They are a goldmine of photos and information about many things pertaining to the Gulf, and especially "Little Eva", a B-24 Liberator bomber that crashed along the coast at Moonlight Creek during the dark days of WW2. For an interesting twist on the differing views people have of the world around them, compare the perspective of the "Little Eva" survivors documented on that site, with that of the local people who helped to rescue them and who have happily lived the same area for tens of thousands of years! Click here to go direct to police officer Bob Hagarty's account of the search compiled recently from his original notes, and here to view photos and text summarising a rare performance of the "Aeroplane Dance". This dance depicting and commemorating those events of so long ago is performed only on very special occasions and with immense pride by the relatives of those people who took part in the search.

There are many tales of the heroic exploits of service personnel and locals during those desperate days when our country fought for its very survival; some of the mysteries remain unsolved even now. Click on the links below to explore some interesting facets of those war time riddles.

" Beautiful Betsy" accounted for at last, so whose bomber's lost on the Roper?

Full, and I mean full, specs of "Beautiful Betsy" plus great photos

Japanese airstrip at Blue Mud Bay?

Missing a plane, boat or mate? Note: "Navigation" in bottom LH corner

Need a search partner or logistical support?

Local Artists
There are many renowned artists in this area and a selection of artworks, and artists at work, is on display at the Waralungku Art Centre. The web site will show you some examples of what they have for sale and where to find them. Give them a call on (08) 8975 8677 and Madeleine or Peter will gladly help you with any enquiries. Over the years there have been some fantastic cultural events such as the Lijakarda and Warrawulla Festivals that are open to the public; check with Peter for details. Clicking the links below will take you to some very interesting links about local culture and art.

Diwurruwurru Yanyuwa people talk to the World

A bark canoe built locally; on display at the Aust National Maritime Museum

Yvonne Bradley; country/rock recorded on the banks of the Wearyan River

Gordon Landsen; stockman, linesman, traditional owner, artist

Yanyuwa Traditional Environmental Knowledge by Richard Baker

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