One of the highlights of the long, long Savannah Way is the opportunity you have to journey through history. Milestones and moments in time can creep up on you, and the chance to stop at unassuming towns to stretch your legs can suddenly open up a goldmine. Croydon is a legendary town, a Savannah Way shining star!
The town of Croydon was established in 1886 after two unsuspecting lads Walter and Dick Aldridge struck gold while digging holes for fence posts working on the Croydon Downs cattle station.
The restored Queenslander building which once housed the Police Station, Sergeant’s Residence with Gaol (and snoring, muttering prisoner scaring the hats off the Squids), as well as the Courthouse and Town Hall – all circa 1886 onwards.
The Courthouse was an absolute delight with staged and very entertaining court case being re-enacted by silhouette statues and a very amusing soundscape.
Taken from an actual case, Mrs Brown was pretty damn colourful with her language – nothing like a well placed swear word to keep a kid sitting in his seat to see how the judicial system plays out in turn-of-the-century Australia.
Croydon was once a pretty colourful, and prosperous town judging by the 122 liquor licences issued on the Croydon goldfields. The town houses factories, foundries, schools and 36 hotels, as well as a hospital and gas lamps on sandstone kerbed streets.
The Historic precinct housed a motley collection of treasures from yesteryear, from dentists chairs and branding irons to Chinese decorations and bed-pans.
Being a bowerbird, when it comes to Aussie memorabilia, and a bit of cheekiness in an exhibition, I bloody loved it!
We didn’t manage to spy the legendary train the RM93 Gulflander pull into the station, which Croydon is also famous for, perhaps we will in our twilight years from the comfort of the carriage!
There was just time for a quick pit-stop in Normanton to wave at the historic Burns Philp General Store.
Burns Philp & Company’s remnant general store symbolises the company’s extraordinary expansion throughout Queensland, Australia and beyond during the late nineteenth century. It was once one of Australia’s most successful companies before its gradual decline.
We sold fresh goods, dried food, sold drapery, we sold plumbing, we sold fencing, we sold feed, paint, yes we sold everything” – Robin Merrin, Burns Philp store assistant 1978 – 86
The story of this impressive building also tells the story of boom and bust, flood and drought and isolation and improvisation in outback communities.
History lessons aside, there was just enough time to jump into the jaws of the giant croc replica in the main street of Normanton, before we hit the road again to set up camp in Karumba.
T’was a top day uncovering golden memories.