Stumbling across a piano in the high branches of a beautiful old gum tree made us all laugh. We were scratching our heads and thinking it was a quirky and lighthearted modern sculpture until we saw the memorial across the street and started to learn the fascinating and poignant tale of Clermont – the ‘Town that Moved’.
Located 3.5 hours South West of Mackay, one of the first things we noticed about the area was how lush, green and picturesque the town is. We had been travelling through outback Queensland for over a month via towns like Winton and Longreach and had become used to red dirt, dusty days and heat – so to arrive in Clermont was a little like discovering an oasis in the desert.
There is an air of calm and peacefulness here – almost as if the town sits in quiet contemplation of it’s colourful past and has now come to rest after a turbulent and tragic history.
The town was one of the original settlements in the tropics – a frontier town where gold was discovered during original building works, leading to a rush of miners entering the region (you can still try your luck and pan for gold in the area today).
Despite warnings from indigenous locals, the town was established on the banks of Hood’s Lagoon in 1862, where the people and the industry continued to flourish for over 50 years until tragedy struck.
The town was submerged in never before seen floods in 1916 – remaining one of the worst in Australian history. Over 65 people lost their lives and the town was destroyed.
As you stand under the memorial and look up to the flood levels of 1916 it is easy to imagine the devastation that such a flood would have caused to the small town. Homes and businesses were washed away and after the waters had subsided there were in fact 3 pianos found in the high branches of tall trees – a tribute to which can now be seen as you enter the town on the corner of Capricorn Street.
When it came time to rebuild the town the decision was made to move to higher ground – and the remaining buildings and structures were relocated – winched by steam engines to their new home. Legend has it that the pub continued to serve beer to customers during the relocation!
As well as learning about the fascinating and unique history of the town at the Clermont Historical Centre you can enjoy a beautiful walk on boardwalks around the lagoon (we took the kids’ scooters) – also don’t miss the murals at the old railway station showing the history and industry of the town.
Take a trip back in time on a visit about 7km out of town to Copperfield – where you can see the tall chimney stack and the shop left as it was when it closed years ago.
Although we didn’t make it out there we’ve also been told that Theresa Creek Dam – located about 20kms away from Clermont is also well worth a visit.
If you like a round or two there is also a 9 hole golf course in Clermont that’s entirely run by volunteers – pop down and support them.
We stayed at the The Peppercorn Motel – Clermont Queensland which is a lovely property with friendly staff, clean rooms, swimming pool, BBQ and grass area which is pet friendly too (we had a rare break from sleeping in the bus!)
Add this to you QLD bucket list!
Love fossicking? Read all about our favourite family fossicking sites in Queensland and get digging!