3 May, 2016 14:45

BEAU CHANDLER | Barcaldine Correspondent | CONTACT

Local bushies have arrived in town to save the visiting Labor stalwarts the obligation of being in their town this time of the year
Local bushies have arrived in town to save the visiting Labor stalwarts the obligation of being in their town this time of the year

Tree clearing in Queensland is hotter than Cloncurry in high summer. With local farmers pulling into Bacaldine over the weekend offering to pull down the famous Tree of Knowledge, in an attempt to save residents from any future patronising ALP parades.

As former prime minister Bob Hawke was pushed in a wheelchair leading the Labour Day march through Barcaldine — the birthplace of the Australian Labor Party — local farmers are quite keen to see this stop happening, considering their only interactions with the Labor Party of late involves them being told to stop land-clearing their drought ravaged properties.

Alongside Mr Hawke, Annastacia Palaszczuk also led unionists through Barcaldine to mark the 125th anniversary of the Great Shearers’ Strike. This was the QLD Premier’s first visit to the town, and likely her last, until next Labor Day.

And as the Labor faithful gathered to pay homage to the party’s roots in Barcaldine, the people who actually live and work in Central Western Queensland have offered to help them dispose of the last lingering reminders of what they once stood for.

The gnarled old ghost gum, where those pioneers purportedly gathered to create the Australian Workers Union and then the Labor Party in 1891, finally carked it in 2006 .

Local folklore suggests it could have been poisoned, but just as many old faithful Labor stalwarts reckon it actually died of shame around the time a mildly autistic Norman Park resident and federal minister rebranded the entire party to suit his first name leading into the 2007 election.

In any event, some locals figure it’s time for some stump removal, and in the spirit of giving, they’ve teed up a dozer and shipping chain to give the Tree of Knowledge its long overdue send-off.

Party luminaries who never give the tree – let alone Barcaldine – a second thought for the rest of the year, arrived on Monday to momentarily bask in the warm inner glow of a Labour Day weekend in the sticks.

Locals report that they look as out of place and as awkward as the brand new RM Williams boots and ill-fitting ‘pastrolist’ Akubras they feel the need to wear.

Local grain trader, Anthony Kent says the visiting Labor royalty look about as comfortable as the female ABC reporter who accidentally stood in front of the wheelchair-bound former Prime Minister.

“They were dressed like politicians, too. Just in case there was a photo opp’ with the only Labor voter in town. Stacey from the BP hotbox is probably the only one keen for a yarn this time of the year”

“We’ve had four years of drought out here and now we have Labor stopping us from restocking with their land clearing laws,”

“Pull that fuckin’ tree out of the ground and tell them to fuck off for good,”

However, while it does look condescending, Anthony Kent says “it should be pretty good for Barccy” – with all the visitors buying up big – mostly tacky souvenirs and trinkets from the Australian Workers Heritage Centre, which coincidently started off life as a circus tent .

And of course, there’s the towel that staunch Labor supporters tossed in years ago for sale alongside the State Premier – who was apparently picked up for a pretty penny by a high-profile member of the QLD Taxi Council.


Originally Published as “Western Queensland graziers offer to finish off the lingering Labor myth “


  1. One of my mates who used to live out near Forbes got a bit smashed on the magic-bag one day after cricket with the boys. He ended up encountering physical contact with a gum tree in his old 60 series cruiser. The boys ended up torching the tree. Soaked in rum, jerry cans at the ready, they put a match to it. It got in the local paper and I can’t remember his name but this one ‘pollie’ was interviewed on the TV a few days later saying he was gonna chop em all down cause they are ‘killing our kids’.

  2. Hi Fellas, the tree is still there but the Gentlemans Club is being pulled down right now. You may consider it strange but as a life member of the Labor Party and one of the original members of the Tree of Knowledge Comittee I find it very sad that another part of the history of Barcaldine is going and The National Party has done nothing. The Central West needs all the help possible so there is another way to make a living in times of drought, so maybe you boys could divirsify a bit a write something possitive.

  3. I know what you mean Geoffro, there was a gumtree not far out of Yunta in SA that had a habit of nocturnally leaping into the path of Subaru Brumbies after their drivers had gagged on a few Southwarks, it was thereafter designated ‘Eucalyptus Subarootus’ by the locals. Also, the talk around the water bag is that the cockies offering to remove that deformed lump of termite bait littering the main street in Barcy had purchased carbon credits to offset the diesel consumption of the dozer, so the Reds/Greens could hardly complain.


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