“Ya know ya gettin’ close to tha city when people stop wavin’ to ya.”
It’s true everyone has a wave for you out here and just adds to the friendliness of outback Queensland.
We set out to explore Blackall starting with a walk and we are delighted to see a pair of Brolgas down on the common enjoying the overflow from the bore water pump.
Our main reason for stopping here is to hear the story of Jack Howe the best shearer in Australia. It is on record at Alice Downs Station that on the 10th of October 1892 in one day, 7 hours and 40minutes to be exact, Jack blade shore 321 sheep – that’s with things that look like over-sized scissors, just by hand, no motorized shears here. He should have sheared for 8 hours and if his fellow shearers hadn’t been mucking around trying to slow him down it would have been a lot more. In the same year he also set the record for machine shearing which was a mere 237! Barry Muir runs the small museum in Blackall just behind Jack’s statue and is passionate about his subject and has many, many stories to tell. Barry is married to one of the family so everything is said with the unmistakable inflection of pride. Jack was a formidable man, had the biggest hands I’ve ever seen and the only person he was ever scared of was his wife. He went on to buy a pub, was part of the early years of the labor party had 10 children and sadly died at 59.
We enjoy a beer at the Barcoo and head to the butchers – now if anyone is coming through and wants some meat the Blackall Butcher is fantastic. We even get some pressed tongue, made at the shop and it was very nice!