Combo Waterhole

Submitted: Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011 at 12:47
ThreadID: 89136 Views:2147 Replies:10 FollowUps:5
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I visited this iconic place in Australian folklore – the place where Waltzing Matilda was written – a couple years ago and found a long dusty dirt track off the sealed highway winding through a dry paddock to a large dusty rocky parking area. A table and seat were provided under the shade of a coolabah tree.

Yesterday some friends visited the spot on my suggestion and were surprised to see that the car park had been sealed! This seemed strange at the end of a long dirt track off the highway. The picnic table had gone and no other facilities were provided and no shade in 34C heat In short the area was very ordinary and not very inviting to visit and reflect on our heritage. They left and went back to the next rest area on the highway for lunch.

I realise that there have been many expenses associated with last year’s flooding but surely we can do better than this.
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011 at 14:11

Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011 at 14:11

Your friends should have been here last week, it was a pleasant 25degrees in the Winton area.

Not sure what you are expecting in dusty, western Qld, but there has been a large amount of money invested in the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton, to commemorate our national song. This gives you, the tourist, a chance to view, and celebrate the Banjo's work, in air conditioned comfort, and enjoy a good meal in the Coolibah Cafe, within the Centre.

I was not aware that the parking area at Combo waterhole had been sealed, and would suggest this is the beginning of more substantial improvements. You are correct in realising the high cost of flooding within the Shire(many millions of $$$$$$$), so the provision of a seat & table, may have been well down the list of priorities. Anyway, what about the coolibah tree? Couldn't your friends have sat in the shade of it, to reflect upon the swaggie, squatter and a song that does bring us all together?

Can understand your friends returning to the amenities of the highway, for the convenience. However I feel you are being a little bit harsh in your post(no, I didn't say critical) about some things that are a fact of life....."long dusty dirt track....dry paddock....large dusty parking area".

Hope your friends are staying for the Winton Festival......"it's goanna be great"

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Can't remember most of it.

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Follow Up By: Turist - Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011 at 19:26

Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011 at 19:26
My friends are staying for the Winton festival and looking forward to seeing life away from the big city. They have 2 young kids with them but found all Motels in Winton are full so they have decided to stay in Longreach for 3 nights and drive up to Winton each day.
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Reply By: Tjukayirla Roadhouse - Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011 at 14:20

Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011 at 14:20
Turist, you say that there was no shade for your friends, on a nice 34c day?
Does that mean there was no more Coolibah trees in the vacinity?
I'm not exactly sure what facilities they would be expecting to see there?
Coke machine maybe? ;-)
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Reply By: Rockape - Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011 at 15:03

Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011 at 15:03
I will take it up with the shire and have tar, curbing, channeling and a theme park installed with air conditioned rest rooms. Might even be able to get the Blue Heeler pub to serve cool beverages there as well. Stay tuned and we will see if we can get the road bulldozed right to the waterhole so we don't even have to get out of our cars.

Mr Patterson would never have gone there if it hadn't been for the waterhole and the Coolibah trees to give them shade from the heat.

Sorry for being a smart arse but I feel great just being able to visit the site and take in history as it should be. As is where is.

AnswerID: 465563

Follow Up By: Rob! - Wednesday, Sep 21, 2011 at 12:12

Wednesday, Sep 21, 2011 at 12:12

I think what turist was sayiing is that it was more pleasant before. Now (I assume) you have the bitumen radiating heat which is not so great when wanting to have lunch.

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Follow Up By: Rockape - Wednesday, Sep 21, 2011 at 15:58

Wednesday, Sep 21, 2011 at 15:58
you maybe correct, but if you are I have no idea what the post was about.

It has never been a LONG dirt road.

The shire struggles to maintain the roads they have. Maybe someone could start up a fund to improve the access.

If Turist wants to explain what he or she posted then that would be good. Until then I will maintain what I said.

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Reply By: Member - Rod D (VIC) - Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011 at 15:29

Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011 at 15:29
I was there at Easter and there was at least one concrete picnic table there.

Just had to find it in the long grass.

If they didnt stop and have a look around because they couldnt find a table then it was their loss
AnswerID: 465567

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011 at 17:47

Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011 at 17:47
Are you sure your friends went to the Combo waterhole? The actual waterhole can only be reached by walking about a kilometre from the parking area. The walk takes in some amazing paving (called overshots) for Cobb and Co coaches put in by Chinese labourers over a hundred years ago and still in good condition (how many bitumen roads would last that long?).

I seem to recall plenty of Coolabahs both at the parking area and at the waterhole - but its a while since I have been there.


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Reply By: jojo - Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011 at 21:13

Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011 at 21:13

We were there 7 weeks ago, and loved the spot. Yes the track is a dirt road but what do you expect, a sealed road. You do have to get out of your vehicle and walk to the waterhole approx 1k. Along the way there is plenty of coolabahs trees and other tree's to provide shade and if you wish to you could pull up a rock and sit in the overshots.

What was so special was sitting on the banks of the waterhole by ourselves reflecting on what allegedly occurred here and that memory will remain with us forever. Top spot
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Reply By: Outbacktourer - Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011 at 21:24

Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011 at 21:24
I'm sure there were some pit toilets down there last year too..

Tar at the Combo, Banjo would turn in his grave.

For the record, in 1895 when Matilda was written Combo was on the boundary of Kynuna and Dagworth Stations. The Stone overshots were built by Mick Fahey the owner of The Bushman's Arms (Now the Blue Heeler) 'The King of Kynuna' using contact Chinese labour. He was illiterate but the Chinese tought him to use the Abbacus! They were built for the station owners to dam the channels for water storage but were used as the roadway to cross the channels. Cobb and Co had a changing station on the southern side of the channels where the largest Billabong is.

Banjo was taken to picnic at Combo as parties from each station would meet there, being between the homesteads and a suitably nice spot. The Manager of Kynuna Station (Sam McCall-McCowan)was courting the Sister (Jean) of the Brothers MacPherson who owned Dagworth at the time. They married not long after. Many aspects of Combo no doubt inspired Waltzing Matilda but it was actually begun to be written at the then Dagworth Homestead several miles back towards Winton and finished in Winton itself over the period of a week or so in January 1895.

Nobody ever drowned at Combo, the suicide thought to be represented in the Ballad was further up the Diamantina four miles from Kynuna.

Although the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton is a marvellous tribute to our national song most of the actual sites of significance in relation to it, although known, are totally unmarked.

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Follow Up By: Member - Kevin S (QLD) - Wednesday, Sep 21, 2011 at 20:35

Wednesday, Sep 21, 2011 at 20:35
Thank you for that history lesson Outbacktourer. Very interesting!
It is important to always maintain a sense of proportion

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Reply By: Member - Bucky - Wednesday, Sep 21, 2011 at 05:22

Wednesday, Sep 21, 2011 at 05:22

I agree
This place should be very high on our to do list.
We did just a few weeks back, and apart from using a vivid imagination, there was basically nothing, except a long drop Dunny, and a little bit of information displayed.

Lets get fair dinkum about iconic places, and tourist sopts
There should be a good setup, and better signs out out on the highway.
A kiosk, real toilets, and make it worth a visit, even overnight stop/camping area


AnswerID: 465626

Reply By: Member - Vivien C (VIC) - Wednesday, Sep 21, 2011 at 07:53

Wednesday, Sep 21, 2011 at 07:53
We were at Combo with Bucky as he said, early August. We had decided to make it our lunch time stop.

Now, I'm not saying that it should be sealed road out there, nor that it should have a kiosk, caravan park or flush toilets. The toilets that are there are fine, a long drop situated well away from the parking area. The thing that is I think, a disadvantage to anyone visiting is the lack of shade. It wouldn't have taken much foresight to arrange the parking area so that there were shade trees close by. There are plenty of clusters of trees nearby that could have been utilised.

The day we were there it was hot...ok yes, we expect that for sure. We ate our lunch beside our vehicles, getting what shade we could from them.
We made the interesting walk along the winding track and across the overshots to the waterhole and sat and reflected on the story and the man who wrote the song. All of that was great.

At the car park on a hot day I guess out in the searing sun one gets the harshness of the land, the story of the swagman, the troopers etc I just don't think that a bit of shade would have detracted. Not all who find themselves out at Combo are able to scramble through the undergrowth to find shade. Some consideration in the siting of the carpark would have made a huge difference.

It could have been done better. It deserves better. It doesn't require "whizz bang" or anything "flash". All that is needed is a bit of thought about who might visit and what would be the basics that would make that visit more pleasant. Answer, shade and a couple of tables..... that's all.

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Follow Up By: Fatso - Thursday, Sep 22, 2011 at 19:59

Thursday, Sep 22, 2011 at 19:59
Well put Vivien C
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Reply By: Outbacktourer - Thursday, Sep 22, 2011 at 08:03

Thursday, Sep 22, 2011 at 08:03
Unfortunately there is a lot of local politics that prevents development of many of the sites along that part of the highway...
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