On a road trip from Brisbane to Longreach, we stopped by a handful of outback western Queensland towns. There were many delightful spots along the way: the Barcaldine public swimming pool (perfect on a 42-degree day), the serenity of the Laurels of Chinchilla (chic, rustic Western Downs accommodation). However, of all the outback destinations, Charleville charmed me the most.
The town is an eight-hour drive inland from Brisbane and five hours south from Longreach. Charleville has a population of 3,300 and two main intersecting streets with wide boulevards, grand old pubs and a meandering, muddy river nearby.
The Good Oil
The night before we drove to Charleville, we stayed at a farm near Morven and the farmer’s wife remarked on the new crop of olive groves in western Queensland. She suggested we pick up some local olive oil from the panel beaters. We purchased a bottle of Sommariva olive oil in a cool, temperature-controlled room in the foyer of the B&W Body Works panel beaters.
B&W Body Works, 86 Edward Street, Charleville
The heritage-listed Hotel Corones dominates downtown Charleville on a corner block. Inside the public bar there are aqua-blue tiles on the wall, and I wonder if they hint at founder Harry Corones ancestral island home of Kythera, Greece. The hotel has ground-floor shops, a grand foyer, a public bar and a ball room. The food is very mid-tier pub fare but it’s a fun Art Deco space to explore.
Hotel Corones, 33 Wills Street, Charleville
An Evening River Walk
On a late afternoon in summer the temperature was 39 degrees Celsius, but it was still a treat to walk along the banks of the muddy Warrego River. There were teens trapezing from rope swings into the river, grandparents walking with small children and families in four-wheel drives making their way to the river’s edge, music blasting and kids piling out of the car with inflatables.
Secret US Army Base
In 1943, 3500 US army and air force personnel were stationed at Charleville. The base was dismantled at the end of World War II but now in a bunker-like structure just outside of town is a museum commemorating the secret base. The museum is small, but it does a good job of telling the stories of soldiers and also Charleville locals’ encounters with the visiting Americans (there were a few war brides from the region who moved to the US with their new loves).
WWII Secret Base, Qantas Drive, Charleville
Where To Stay
Rocks Motel in Charleville is possibly the most expensive accommodation in town, but it was totally worth it for the swimming pool. After an intensely hot day of driving and exploring, the artesian water felt fantastic. Following our dip, we retreated to our modern, air-conditioned rooms and scrolled on our phones.
Rocks Motel, 74 Wills Street, Charleville