Outback MagazineOutback Magazine



What do you do to keep one-man town alive and the focal point of an isolated outback community when the last resident moves out? Just ask the locals around Betoota in Queensland's Channel Country.

Story Sue Neales photos John Elliott

You can't even call Betoota a one-horse town these days. Lying forlorn amidst the treeless gibber stone plains and sandy floodplains of the sweeping Channel Country, its 114 year-old pub has closed, its petrol pump is defunct, the phone box vandalised and its last remaining resident and hotel owner, 88 year-old eccentric Simon (Ziegmund) Remienko, has moved away.

ImageBut never try telling a local that Betoota no longer exists. Certainly not Geoff Morton, the owner of vast Roseberth Station, 150 kilometres west of Betoota, but which Geoff describes as like living "two doors away" from Australia's smallest town. It is nearly 120 years since the Queensland government first set up a Customs Post at Betooota, which was soon a bustling town of three pubs, a post office, a police station and store.

While it still is an officially gazetted town, today all the buildings – other than the closed Betoota Hotel – have gone. But a town plan and subdivision still exists and, much to the surprise of the Diamantina Shire Council (which encompasses Betoota), six blocks of land sold there in 2001 for between $200 and $500.

"But I don't think the buyers plan to move there any time soon," Diamantina Shire mayor and local cattleman David Brook said at the time. At least the speck on the map that is Betoota today still has a race club. The club has a fine, if somewhat dusty, horseracing track, complete with adjacent tin shed, lean-to bar and betting ring. Story end

Full story Issue 32, Dec 03/Jan 04

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