Going solo in Blackall

Solo motorhome rally gives much-needed boost to Blackall


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Circling the wagons: It's by air that the scope of the 300-odd campervans filling Blackall's Showgrounds becomes apparent. Picture: Sally Cripps.

Circling the wagons: It's by air that the scope of the 300-odd campervans filling Blackall's Showgrounds becomes apparent. Picture: Sally Cripps.

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Over 300 people, part of the Solo network of the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia, have made Blackall home for a week.

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It's flooding in Blackall and the community is loving it.

Over 300 people, part of the Solo network of the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia, have made the western Queensland community home for a week and are busy leaving a big impression, financially and emotionally.

The location for the biannual rally was shifted from Alice Springs when organisers visited Blackall last September and were moved to tears by the community's plight.

"We called it double-decker dead - it was dead-on-dead," rally boss Roz Clenton said of the drought that had its foot on the throat of the region.

"What we've said in our information pamphlet is 'Take time to embrace this lovely 150-year-old town' and I think that's what's happening.

"We know you're not a charity - we've asked what you have to offer for us."

What Blackall has offered has been its hospitality, its lifestyle, its services and its people, and it's paying off in a big way.

While Ms Clenton was reluctant to say how much money would be left in the town before any final tally was announced via shopper dockets, Blackall-Tambo mayor Andrew Martin was full of praise for the impact being made.

Solo rally organiser Roz Clenton, who hails from Casino, helps Blackall-Tambo mayor Andrew Martin get in the spirit at the welcome dinner, which had a funny hat theme.

Solo rally organiser Roz Clenton, who hails from Casino, helps Blackall-Tambo mayor Andrew Martin get in the spirit at the welcome dinner, which had a funny hat theme.

"The boost to the economy is more than welcome, it's bloody marvellous," he said. "On the first day, when a lot of people didn't get here until 3 or 4pm, they'd spent $10,000 around town, and they're all restocking and refuelling over the week or more that they're here."

The rally, made up of retired people aged up to their late 80s who drive by themselves, not necessarily single people, is like a small town in its needs.

It has a first aid centre, a dance hall, merchandise sales, and the food marquee has been named the Jack Howe Hall in honour of one of Blackall's favourite sons.

The 300 Solo motorhome rally participants gathered under the 'Jack Howe' marquee for the opening dinner.

The 300 Solo motorhome rally participants gathered under the 'Jack Howe' marquee for the opening dinner.

A seminar on do's and don'ts with road trains, presented by Blackall's acting police sergeant Scott Fayers, along with others on UHF radio etiquette, understanding your tyres, and diet and diabetes, have been offered through the week.

Various social and sporting groups - the Blackall Magpies rugby league club and the poultry club - have cooked evening meals, and others have been enjoyed at the aquatic centre and the bowls club.

School groups have been among the myriad entertainment options available through the week, and attractions such as the historic Woolscour and the Black Stump have been the centre of attention, thanks to courtesy buses moving the instant mini-town around the town.

"Some would have gone to the cattle sale on Thursday," Cr Martin said. "I'm sure there will be lots of returning visitors."

Some of the south east Queensland Kookaburra chapter of the Solos enjoying Happy Hour at the Blackall Showgrounds.

Some of the south east Queensland Kookaburra chapter of the Solos enjoying Happy Hour at the Blackall Showgrounds.

He said while a fair proportion had been to the bush before and loved it enough to keep returning, some had been exposed to its brand of hospitality for the first time.

"Our greatest asset is our people - the visitors are blown away by them," he said.

"They're blown away by the fact that the locals want to meet them and welcome them to their town.

"These visitors have children and grandchildren - we want to be known as a choice spot to stop at. I'm sure there will be a lot of return visitors."

Ms Clenton said they had been made so welcome by Blackall, they had come to embrace the town.

"Last September, people were smiling through their sadness. Now I hope we've made each other truly happy."

The Blackall Magpies club continued its record of community service when it served up Thursday's evening meal for the 329 Solos at the showgrounds.

The Blackall Magpies club continued its record of community service when it served up Thursday's evening meal for the 329 Solos at the showgrounds.

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