Jericho
Collage of Jericho.

Not really a town of biblical proportions, the little settlement of Jericho nevertheless manages to associate itself with it's namesake in Palestine. Jericho sits on the Jordan River in central west Queensland and it's thought that the river was named after a pioneering settler, Mr Harry Jordan. What is even more disturbing is 130km to the north of Jericho is Lake Galilee, a salt lake and wildlife sanctuary. Barcaldine Shire Council claims it's possible to walk to islands in the lake and that - 'You too, can walk on Lake Galilee.' The only plausible explanation for the name of the town is that it was a parody that stuck.

Locals were so taken with the biblical connotation that in 1988 they they organised the construction of the 'Crystal Trumpeters' - a park monument that represents the story of the walls of Jericho being reduced to rubble. The streets of Jericho are named after, not the apostles, but scientists.

Enough theology. Jericho was settled in the 1850's as pastoralists followed in the footsteps of famous explorers such as Bourke, Wills, Landsborough, Mitchell and Kennedy. They took up lands often bringing thousands of cattle, sheep and horses from as far as Victoria.

The formation of a settlement began on the opposite side of the Jordan River at Pine Hill somewhere before 1884. The small site was described as a 'camp' by the Capricornian newspaper. A lack of water combined with harsh living conditions and finally rain that caused the river to rise uncomfortably, saw some people relocate to Jericho across the river while others left for Alpha. Jericho was also described as just a camp.

The Central Railway played a vital role in Jericho's growth with the line reaching the town in 1885 and an extension to Blackall completed in 1907. Jericho proved to be an unpopular choice as the rail terminus. It was reported as having 'not a drop of water on the road between Blackall and Jericho' and due to an abundance of poison grass in the district, anyone moving cattle stood a good chance of losing the herd to poisoning. A steady stream of wool flowed in to the railway yards and the general store was doing a roaring trade although storekeepers often had to wait 8 - 12 months to be paid.

The great rail systems of the 1800's were replaced with road transport as trucks removed stock directly from the stations and the need for huge numbers of drovers and horses was eliminated. It was the end of an era and Jericho suffered just like a hundred other small outback towns. Today the old railway station serves as an information centre.

Jericho still operates a drive-in movie theatre, for all thirty six cars. A local market is held once a month and Redbank Park is situated by the Jordan River. There are a few murals scattered about the streets and the information centre has a miniature clay village of the Jericho township. If all else fails you can always turn up at the Walls of Jericho monument and indulge in a moment of quiet contemplation.


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