With an official population of 2, tiny Toompine is barely a blip on the radar!
Is that enough reason to visit? Of course not!
But finding out why the local cemetery is called a ‘cemery’? To our regret, we hadn’t succumbed to this tempting lure, posed by the visitor guide on our first visit to the Quilpie Shire in 2009. So the intriguing question was an irresistible drawcard when we returned in June 2011.
The drive from Quilpie follows the historic ‘Dowling Track’ south, passing a turnoff to the Duck Creek opal field – site of ‘Pride of the Hills, the first opal mine in Australia, registered in 1871. And home of the ‘Huns Head’ opal – at 15.75 kg (35 lb) Queensland’s largest find!
But … giant opals being absent from the roadside, or at least not visible from the car, we were free to continue our 80km drive south to the Toompine pub.
It’s not a town though – this onetime Cobb & Co changing post/overnight stop built in 1893 proudly proclaims itself as ‘the pub with no town’!
Still maintaining its reputation for hospitality, the Toompine pub draws a steady stream of visitors with to offer of free camping (includes power and hot showers), the ‘Toompine Terraces’, or drinks and meals for those just passing through!
But there’s more.
Our nerves shot by swerving to avoid the errant bustard* crossing the road, we entered the pub in search of refreshment. Urbanites please note – this isn’t the place to order a skinny-soy-decaf-latte unless you want to provide some inadvertent amusement. But if you can, time your visit (as we did – inadvertently) to coincide with a bus tour at morning tea time. Then, for $7 you can pig out on sample a s**tload variety of delicacies straight from the CWA** cookbook. Trust me. Fancy coffee is not relevant here. And you won’t need lunch – you’ll be so full it’ll feel like you’re going to have a food baby!
So after sampling at least one of everything, admiring the pub’s historic displays, chatting with Stacey and Amelia and admiring the pub’s exterior and campground, we returned to Quilpie, never to eat again. Or at least not that day …
But damned if I didn’t forget to find out why the cemetery is called a ‘cemery’!
So if YOU ever find out, PLEASE put me out of my misery and let me know!!
* No, that’s NOT a misspelling. The Australian Bustard is the heaviest flying bird in OZ – and could cause a LOT of damage to one’s car were one to hit one. Especially if travelling at speed.
** Country Womens Association comprised, as far as I can tell, of extraordinarily good cooks devoted to resurrecting the lost art of taking tea. They could perform no nobler task.
Later Edit: Well, thanx to Saucy Kod over at Saucy Kodz Blog, the mystery is solved! Saucy Kod emailed a quote from information on the wall of the pub! Where I’ve actually been and she hasn’t!!
“Some distance to the west of the hotel is a small cemetery in which there are ten graves. Only three of these have headstones. Two young children (3 years) are buried there with one dying from gastroenteritis and the other from strychnine poisoning. The strychnine poisoning was caused by the young lad playing on some kangaroo skins that had been treated with arsenic.
“The sister of this young lad travelled to the Toompine area and found the graveyard in disrepair. She carved a sign “Cemery” in a piece of Mulga to mark the graveyard. Quilpie Shire Council has since fenced this cemetery and has used this sign “Cemery” so lovingly placed to mark her brother’s final resting place.
She found the information at http://austcemindex.com/cemetery.php?id=767 where there are also a couple of photos of the cemetery. Or should I say cemery.
I don’t know whether to be ecstatic or embarrassed that it took a Canadian to succeed where this Australian failed in finding info about this obscure Aussie Outback location! But I was clearly too busy eating my way to a food baby to read ALL the info on the pub wall!!
So … why not pay Saucy Kodz a visit and thank her in person? Thanx again, SK – girlfriend, you ROCK!!