Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


Border pubWestern Belle

Rugby rules in the Darling Downs town of Condamine, and the local pub doesn’t need to ring its namesake cowbell to fill up with thirsty patrons.

Story Kirsty McKenzie Photos Ken Brass

It speaks volumes for the tiny Queensland township of Condamine that, although it has a population of just 74, it boasts two rugby teams. “It may seem quiet in the mornings,” says Condamine Bell Hotel publican Andrew Smith. “But during the footy season about 40 blokes turn up for training and when they make their way down here afterwards, this pub really rocks. It’s normal for us to serve 50 to 60 meals on those nights.”

Located on the banks of the Condamine River at the headwater of the Murray Darling system in the southern Darling Downs, Condamine today owes its large population of young men to the many employment opportunities afforded by the local feedlots and contract work for the surrounding agriculture.

Established in the 1850s to serve emerging sheep and cattle stations, by 1859 Condamine had two pubs, a store, blacksmiths’ shop and numerous shanty dwellings. In 1867, Cobb and Co. extended their coach service from Dalby to Roma, making it easier for landholders and workers to travel to the outlying properties. Among the influx of people heading west was blacksmith Samuel William Jones, who moved to Condamine and, during the next decade, made a name for himself as the designer of a distinctively shaped cowbell, known as a bullfrog or Condamine bell. Story end

Full story OUTBACK Issue 37 October/November 2004

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