Want to own your own town? Quamby has been for sale for some time after being passed in at auction in 2011 but a cool $400,000 could see you become the lord of this tiny North West Queensland dominion. You're going to have to wear a few hats though. You'll be the Fireman, the Police Constable, Mayor and Parking Inspector. You'll need to be able to turn your hand to anything including the maintenance on a 150 year old timber building as well as controlling feral animals and acting as chief Housemaid. Whip up a meal for a hungry traveller - all in a days work. Museum Curator, Boxing Promoter and annual Rodeo Host - no problem. Most importantly you'll be the Accommodation Manager for 15 dongas (workers quarters) and also the Publican, king of an 1860's Customs House turned hotel. This is Quamby
Once a vibrant, well semi-vibrant, roadside stop between Cloncurry and Normanton the little settlement has seen it's fair share of history and travellers. Originally built to serve as a Customs House the building converted to become the Albert Hotel and has continued in this role for 90 years although the pub is now know as 'The Quamby'.
The town and hotel served as a staging post for Cobb & Co Stage Coaches. Cobb & Co borrowed heavily on the American concept of running covered horse drawn carriages to remote outposts and the situation in Australia was no different. In fact coaches and experienced American drivers were imported to help overcome the comparable conditions of the Australia outback to those of the American West. Staging posts were setup at regular intervals, sometimes as close as 10 miles so horses could be swapped out for a fresh team. The driver would sound a horn or bugle to let the waiting groom know of his approach. The groom, recognising a driver's individual call would quickly assemble the correct team for that particular coach. Changeovers had to occur with military precision in order to meet difficult schedules. Cobb & Co was famous for providing the fastest service over any given route. Summer temperatures in Quamby can exceed 45°C and the notion of sitting in a windowless wooden carriage belting across gutted tracks, pulled by a team of lathering horses has no appeal whatsoever. Passengers often reported a trip of extreme discomfort accompanied by dust inhalation and severe bruising.
Almost as silly and just as courageous was Mr G.W. Whatmore who in 1918 undertook a 'Trip Through Unknown Queensland' in a newfangled Ford motor vehicle (a 'Model T' we presume) It may have been Australia's first road trip and it began at Brisbane and ended in Burketown. We have no idea how he refuelled. G.W Whatmore was the managing director of the Queensland Motor Agency and he reported to the Royal Society of St. George that he passed through 'pastoral lands, mountain ranges, rivers and country towns'. Quamby was one of his checkpoints.
The local children enjoyed the provision of the Quamby State School which opened in 1924 and finally closed in 1969. For a time the town was also serviced by the railway network although the only trains passing Quamby today are roadtrains, most likely loaded with cattle from neighbouring stations.
As is the case in northwest Queensland the towns decline saw the opportunity for savvy developers to purchase the buildings and move them to another location. Quamby survives as a testament to the pioneering spirit of a bygone era. Play your cards right and it could be yours.
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