Quilpie is located 980 km west of Brisbane and 208 km west of Charleville. It is the administrative centre of a shire which covers 67 482 sq. km and, in 1987, had a total population of only 1380 - more than half of them residing in the main town.
Quilpie came into existence in 1917 with the arrival of the railway and now, more than 70 years later, it is still primarily a service centre for the surrounding area characterised by a couple of pubs, a motel, a police station, a council office, a railway goods yard and a few shops. It is the centre for a number of tiny settlements which exist in the far western outback regions of the state.
Things to see
The Church Altar
Quilpie's major claim to fame is the altar in St Finbarr's, the Roman Catholic Church on Buln Buln Street. In keeping with the mining background of the area the altar has been made out of opal rocks. It is unique and well worth a visit.
Historically the area is known for its opals but it is still quite rare to find people prepared to organise tours because of the inevitable problems of insurance and the general feeling by opal miners that visitors are nothing more than a hindrance. The best way to see the local opal operations and to do a little fossicking is to contact Troy Minnett at the Channel Country Carav an Park. He will do all in his power to arrange for a suitable trip and visit. Contact Troy on tel: (07) 4656 2087 or fax: (07) 4656 1585. The cost of the day varies according to the number of people involved.
There are some excellent fishing holes in and around Quilpie. Golden perch (aka yellowbelly) and freshwater crayfish (aka yabbies) are the most common catches.
About 75 minutes out of town is the historic 'Ray' station which is now open to the public. Once owned by pioneers of the fistrict - the Tully and Durack families - it is now a living museum, courtesy of current owners Mark and Sandra Tully.
77 km to the south, on a less-than-perfect dirt road (with some sections sealed), Toompine was once a stopping point for Cobb & Co and the centre of a thriving mining community. It is now nothing more than a solitary pub which was built in 1898 to meet the demands of the area.
103 km to the west is Eromanga, now little more than a pub and a police station, which makes claims to being one of the oldest opal mining areas in Queensland.
Beyond these settlements lie the near-deserts of western Queensland with their 250 mm per annum rainfall and their sand dunes, scrubby vegetation and dirt roads clogged with bulldust.