Woorabinda is an aboriginal community in Central Queensland that no one has heard of. Traditionally Woorabinda was part of the land of the Wadja Wadja people. Between 1927-1970 the Queensland Government forcefully removed 1473 Aboriginal people from their traditional lands across the huge state to the Woorabinda reserve, 170km south-west of Rockhampton where the summers are hot, the winters are icy and drought common. These people represented at least 47 different tribes, with different languages and customs.
The first 298 people of Woorabinda were made to walk 200kms from the Taroom reserve, further south. Many of the people walked in chains, though they were not criminals. The relocation occurred due to the proposed construction of the Taroom dam, that would flood the Taroom reserve. The dam remains unbuilt to this day.
“Woorabinda was never a mission” A local councilor told us. “What’s a mission? Either a community run by the church or a vision. Woorabinda was neither of these things.”
To save up dollars for future adventures, we found ourselves cashing up in an outback roadhouse. A ‘roadhouse’ (apparently the concept is not universal) is a glorified truck-stop: a large petrol station, stocking a few, overpriced supermarket lines & housing a kitchen, turning out steaks as big as your face & fast-food fast, to get those travellers back on the highway asap. A place where the whole family can ‘break the journey’, get out of the car, stretch those legs, use the facilities and hopefully (at least for the establishment) part with some money. In Australia, where that journey could be a 12 hour drive, a place to break the journey is pretty necessary. Even an overpriced roadhouse that hasn’t changed since 1982, with only a patch of grass kept green by daily watering, can seem like an oasis. Or so we were told…