Springsure, Central Queensland

Springsure, Central Queensland

The Central Queensland town of Springsure is at the terminus of  two major thoroughfares – the Gregory Highway (running south from the Gulf country) and the Dawson Highway, which runs west from Gladstone on the coast.

Ludwig Leichhardt explored the district between 1843 and 1845. His favourable reports encouraged squatters to move in and settle the land. The town’s  name, used from 1861, comes from a pastoral run which had a permanent spring.

The subsequent influx of squatters caused friction with the original Indigenous inhabitants, and in 1861 squatter Horatio Wills and 18 other settlers including women and children were slaughtered in the Cullin-La-Ringo massacre, the largest mass murder of European settlers in Australian history. It has since been suggested that the murders were reprisal for the shooting of local Gayiri tribespeople by Europeans.

Springsure today is the hub for several Bowen Basin coal mines, and the district produces cattle, sunflowers, sorghum, wheat and chickpeas.

As the pastoral settlement grew in wealth, local stock and station agents imported expensive automobile marques (like these American Studebakers) for potential purchasers.

Springsure is a starting point for visits to Carnarvon Gorge National Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty with sandy plains, valleys, and gorges separated by basalt-capped ranges. The gorge walls create an ecosystem for rare flora and fauna. The Gorge also features Indigenous art galleries.

In the 2016 census, Springsure had a population of 1103.

Record-breaking Flight

Record-breaking Flight

In 1919 brothers Ross and Keith Smith, with mechanics James Bennett and Wally Shiers, were the first Australians to fly a British aircraft from Great Britain to Australia. They piloted this converted Vickers Vimy twin-engine bomber G-EAOU (affectionately known as ‘God ‘Elp All Of Us’) from England to Darwin.

They took off from Houndslow Heath at 8am on 12 November 1919 and landed in Darwin at 4.10pm on 10 December 1919.

In all, they had covered an estimated distance of 17,911 km in 135 hours and 55 minutes. They were met by Prime Minister Billy Hughes. The crew were able to claim the prize of 10,000 pounds offered by the Australian Government for the first Australians to fly from Britain to Australia.

The Vickers Vimy aircraft was developed in the latter stages of the First World War to equip the Royal Flying Corps. It was completed too late to be used in active combat, but formed the main heavy bomber force of the Royal Air Force throughout the 1920s.

The G-EAOU is preserved in a museum in the Smiths’ hometown of Adelaide.