Borroloola - Things to See and Do
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
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
it's fairly long but absorbing reading.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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!!
Colac, Victoria to the Gulf in the trusty Falcon and well worth
Talk about die hard fishermen;
check 'em out!
Barramundi big time;
offshore at the Loo
about fishing anywhere, including satellite weather for your area!
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
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?
and I mean full, specs of "Beautiful Betsy" plus great
airstrip at Blue Mud Bay?
a plane, boat or mate? Note: "Navigation" in bottom LH
Need a search partner
or logistical support?
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.
Yanyuwa people talk to the World
A bark canoe built locally; on display at the Aust National Maritime Museum
Bradley; country/rock recorded on the banks of the Wearyan River
Landsen; stockman, linesman, traditional owner, artist
Traditional Environmental Knowledge by Richard Baker