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Home > Travelogues > 2009 Travelogues Index > Ilfracombe

We stayed at the Ilfracombe Caravan Park  just because we had heard such glowing reports about this park and wanted to see how good it really was.  See our review here

 

 

 

 

 

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The art of stone pitching required careful planning. Suitable stones of the right size and shape had to be gathered, perhaps from far locations and had to be sorted for size before being strategically placed throughout the construction like completing a jigsaw puzzle. 

 

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Ilfracombe - the Machinery Mile and other attractions

3 HP steam engine

                                                                                                                                    

All displays in Ilfracombe are free to visit.   Visit Ilfracombe

 

Being founded within Wellshot Station, the town which formed at the rail head was originally called Wellshot.  Commencing 1898, a large wool scouring plant operated 500 metres away from the railway and the artesian bore water proved ideal for the processing.  This was possibly the first wool scouring plant in Australia and in its heyday scoured 16,000 bales of wool each year.  Operating until 1966 it was the town’s biggest employer; now all that remains is a heap of white ash. 

 

Wellshot station encompassed over a million acres of Mitchell grass plains between the Barcoo and Thomson Rivers.  It was owned by a company holding a number of other stations.  Running up to 460,000 sheep, it was considered the largest sheep station in the world.  It was also unusual that this station did not have a river or waterholes, but relied on dams for stock water.  Most of these were ‘overshots’ – valley dams.  The banks were reinforced against water erosion by stones.  See more about stone pitching from our visit to the Twelve Mile.  By 1948, the station had been subdivided into a number of smaller stations – some too small to be viable where dreams were lost.  A video of the history of Wellshot can be viewed together with displays at the Wellshot Centre. 

 

In 1873 Artesian water was discovered and bores gushed out.  Uncapped, they are now a trickle compared to past output.  Comfortably warm water sourced from an Artesian bore provides water for the swimming pool and a spa.  

 

 

The Langenbaker House: To gain an insight into life in the early days of Ilfracombe.  This house was brought to Ilfracombe in the 1890's by dray by Harry and Mary-Anne Langenbaker, who were among the town’s first settlers. The house had been moved several times as they followed the rail head where teamster Harry Langenbaker carted produce to and from the rail head.  It would have been a fine house in its era.  The couple and their 11 children lived in the house which remained in the family until 1991 when the youngest son Bernie died.  Verandahs had been added with lattice made from bands from packs of woolpacks – and abundant material at the time.   

Other points of interest include the Wellshot Hotel which is over 100 years old and came originally from a small railway siding west of Anakie, called Withersfield.  It was then erected in Barcaldine where it stood for approximately 10 years.

 

As the railway line moved further west, Paddy Finn thought it a good idea to dismantle the pub in Barcaldine and erect it on its current place.

 

The folk museum is filled with memorabilia from a bygone era, and showcases the role of women and children in the pioneering days of the area. 

 

Hilton’s bottle collection is also free to enter and has thousands of bottles collected by Hilton Jackson, but there is much more to see.  This display also includes buttons, saws, insulators, cutlery, hubcaps and horseshoes. 

 

Romani Hall has a display dedicated to the 2/14th Ilfracombe Light Horse Troop.

 

A plaque outside the Post Office celebrates the first motorised postal service in Australia which went from Ilfracombe to Isisford in 1910.

 

The Langenbaker House is now is now on display and is maintained by the local Shire, complete with original furniture and includes Mary-Anne’s needlework.  The Langenbaker House is open to visitors by guided tour only, tours departing the Ilfracombe Caravan Park at 9 am. 

Twenty five kilometres east of Longreach is the delightful small town of Ilfracombe which is known for The Machinery Mile, where a display of old rural machinery lines the road the entire length of the town.  Tractors, trucks, boring equipment, steam engines, and road graders are included in this line up of donated equipment. 

 

To left: 1917 Ruston Kerosene tractor is one of only 3 remaining in the world. Being the forerunner to the Caterpillar, there were 443 of them manufactured under licence by HOLT USA. Most went to Russia during the First World War.  This tractor was used in the building of the Longreach to Winton Railway Line in 1925, then later to pull a comet fire-plough.  

Above: 1949 Austin truck was brought new by the Ranch Station Longreach from Brisbane.  This truck was the same model as the one on our farm when I was a child.  We all learnt to drive on it, starting steering it as a two year old while my father fed hay and grain from the back. 

To left: Twin City: A 1919 model 27HP tractor. Killed a man while cranking it on the Darling Downs, then sold to Hereward Station in 1922, replacing 22 horses. Used to pull a comet fire plough but had a tendency to rear up.

To left: Goodwin-Isas 640 P Medium Grader: a 1940 model, AWB 6 power unit that was possibly built in the mid-1940's. Built by A E Goodwin Ltd, St Marys, NSW. Serial Number: S1112

 

After a most enjoyable and day filled with history and interest in Ilfracombe, we headed south towards Isisford.  Just twenty kilometres to the south we stopped at a picnic area alongside the dry Stockyard Gully; a place which was once the site of the Royal Mail Hotel at the Cobb and Co change station referred to as the Twelve Mile.  The site was chosen as it was suitable for building a dam to provide water.  The Royal Mail Hotel operated between 1893 and 1916 and now nothing remains but a sign telling the history of the site.  See our report on camping at this Rest Area here.  We stopped at the picnic area to relax for a while and look at and back up our many photos of Ilfracombe, and felt so comfortable there that we didn’t leave until the following morning. 

 

We walked across a farm cattle grid and past a large farm dam to the site of the first Twelve Mile Dam.  A loop at the end of this track gives vehicle access to the site of the Stone Pitching; a form of dam building in gullies.   This site shows a remaining example of the way stones were laid to prevent dam wall erosion.  With neatly placed selected stones, this shallow dam was constructed to create an erosion proof facing on an embankment, which served as a by-wash that would retain water to a certain level, causing it to run into and fill the adjacent dam. Excess water was allowed to flow over the by-wash, thus relieving pressures that might have washed the dam away.  This dam was probably constructed in the early 1890s. 

 

Kilala Fordson: This 1948 kerosene tractor 27 hp was used for delving bore drains and various other station jobs
Steam Engine: Was last used on Manningham Station for boring water
Stone Pitching
Stockyard Gully and the Twelve Mile Hotel
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