.. the bartender says, ‘What will it be?’ The cat says, ‘A shot of milk, full cream.’ The bartender pours the cat the drink. The cat slowly pushes the shot off the table. ‘Another!’
There were a few things I was craving after our 30 day off grid adventure – a shower, a beer, a meal out, and possibly human contact. The town of Adavale delivered all.
We were finally back in phone reception. Arriving in the outskirts of town we parked by the billabong to catch up on what was happening in the world. Disappointed, we continued into the town.
In its peak in the early 1900s, Adavale had a population of 800. According to Koss, the publican and owner, a headcount carried out only a few weeks ago tallied 14. The peril of many a frontier town.
I got that beer and as my dinner was put on Koss told me all about this little town he has called home for the past 7 years.
With the discovery of opal in the area and the formation of surrounding pastoral properties the town boomed in the late 1800s and by 1888 it was well serviced with 5 hotels. Over the years the townspeople endured many floods, and the development of a railway to nearby Quilpie instead of Adavale, meant that the town failed to prosper.
The flood of March 1963 was particularly devastating. It saw the Blackwater Creek swell and soon become a torrent that wiped much of the town away including the church. Some were reluctant to rebuild, schools were closed, and the last remaining pub burnt down in 1973.
Adavale, a new frontier
Since then there has been somewhat of a revival – not in population, but in spirit. The pub/post office/cafe as it stands today was once the store’s residence and is now filled with curiosities celebrating the history of the area.
Koss’ enthusiasm for this pub and the area as a whole attracts visitors from all over the world. Visitors looking for a real outback experience in a part of the world where remote takes on new meaning.
As my fish and chips were served, a couple arrived who were on their way to the scenic Hell Hole Gorge national park. They sat down at the bar with a beer each and Koss told them everything they needed to know about the park and other secrets of the area.
There is free camping across the road by the old town hall. Toilets, showers, and even a 240v socket. After a month of very limited driving it was good to be able to fully charge the batteries.
That evening I went for a wander and took some night photos. Information boards stuck to the outside of the hall tell the story of Adavale. I walked to the old butchers shop which is now a mini museum. I saw the two boats used to transport goods across the creek in flood and the old bell from the church that washed away.
The next morning it was overcast. We returned to the pub. Koss was happy for me to sit there all day with my laptop, and I figured this was a great opportunity to take some photos of Willow. I parked the van right outside and left the sliding door open. Willow was all too keen to explore. Though she seemed to find under the actual building most interesting.
A handful of travellers dropped in throughout the day. Another couple on their way to the gorge. A group of guys on a hunting/fishing trip taking a break for a roundtrip out to see Adavale – and for a pub voted Queensland’s best bush pub in 2012, it’s worth the drive whether you’re coming from Quilpie, Charleville, or Blackall.
The Gidgee Tree
I get a pie and chips for lunch. Koss told me about a famous local timber called Gidgee. In a landscape where pollinators are lacking, evolution has to step up its game. The Gidgee flowers are scented like rotting meat to attract insects. A win for the survival of the species, a loss for anyone who has the displeasure of camping next to one.
Anyhow, the dark red timber is prized amongst woodworkers, and I was keen to get my hands on some. Koss mentioned that Chris, the local policeman two doors up, had a pile of it. He made a quick phone call then I walked up the road to meet him. I returned shortly after with a log of it, wondering how on earth I will mill it with the limited tools I have.
In the late afternoon the postman arrived in his ute on his who-knows-how-many-kilometers-long mail run. He collected the mail and left as storm clouds rolled in.
Over in the distance thunder and lightning crashed down. Tomorrow we were leaving for Quilpie and as I finished my beer I thought that I could really have stayed longer.
More info about the Adavale pub and area can be found on their website.
Next: Quilpie to Birdsville