Camooweal
Collage of Camooweal.

It's the final Queensland town as you head the 12km across the border into the Northern Territory. Camooweal's nearest neighbour is Mount Isa, some 188km south-east which places the tiny town in a fairly remote region of the northern grazing country.

Two Englishmen, Crosthwaite and Teltley, resumed a lapsed grazing lease in 1865. Previous attempts to graze the isolated region had failed due to the difficult nature of the country, a shortage of water and stock losses due to dingo kills.

Eventually a town site was established and by 1885 a post office had been built, followed by a police station and school. It's interesting to note that it wasn't until 1952 that Cammoweal was finally connected to electricity, an indication of the remoteness of the town.

Cammoweal has always been an important checkpoint for drovers and travellers. The 'Drovers Camp Festival' is held in August and celebrates the men who made a living driving livestock across the country, often to a saleyard or port thousands of kilometres away.

Situated right on the Barkly Highway means any interstate traffic following the eastern highways must drive right through the main street of Cammooweal and for the passing traveller it would appear there's not much to pull up for. A pub, general store, roadhouse, caravan park and a museum that has been closed since 2009 mean that it is the constant flow of traffic that keep the 200 locals entertained.

Look a little deeper and you discover that Camooweal has some history dating much further back than a hundred and fifty years of grazing. The Camooweal Caves National Park is just out of town and boasts a series of 500 million year old caves and sinkholes, many accessible only by experienced cavers. While you're checking out prehistory then take the 110km dirt road to Lawn Hill and Riversleigh, Australia's largest fossil deposit and a World Heritage listed site.

Interestingly, sections of the highway from Camooweal to Darwin were originally funded by the U.S. during World War 2 as part of the defence of Northern Australia. It's reported that 1000 army vehicles used to travel the road everyday.


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