Look at a map of north west Queensland, right over near the Northern territory border. Drive a pin in that map 150km south of Mount Isa and you've located Dajarra - smack in the middle of nowhere.
Dajarra lies in the heart of cattle country, rugged undulating ground sparsely vegetated by Gidyea ('gidgee') trees and spinifex and other grasses. The remote health service considers their practise at Dajarra a 'desert medical service' although the grazing land in the region produces profitable beef.
There's not much here - a hotel, roadhouse, general store and police station and a scattering of houses, shacks and the restored Railway Station. But Dajarra wasn't always a sleepy truck stop on a backroad. It was once the largest cattle depot in the world and reputed to have moved more beef than 'big ol' Texas'
Dajarra owes it's existence to to the construction of a railhead by the Great Western Railway to service the copper mining industry. In 1917 Carbine Creek was selected as the railhead and connect to the town of Malbon, presumably because of the available water in the soaks at Carbine Creek. The name was later changed to Dajarra, reportedly an Aboriginal word for nearby Black Mountain which contains Aboriginal paintings and rock carvings as well as a traditional 'stone axe' quarry.
The railway was built to carry copper but the cattle industry jumped on board and shipped huge numbers of northern beef from the Northern Territory and Western Australia to the markets down south. The copper had long since dried up.
Local indigenous people were heavily employed on the stations and by the railway and it wasn't until the 1960's when cattle began to be transported by road train that Dajarra's fortunes began to dwindle.
Dajarra is primarily an Aboriginal settlement with 85% of the towns 180 population being of indigenous origin. Many people from the Georgina River area were 'resettled' here. Compulsory schooling and the lack of a police presence at Urandangi were the justification for the resettling.
The school at Dajarra still teaches one of the traditional languages of the local groups.
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