Today I am sharing some more of our trip with something a little different - Walkabout Creek Hotel at McKinlay in Queensland - one of the filming locations for the iconic Australian movie Crocodile Dundee - have you seen it?
Our son loves to see movie locations - and had been talking about Walkabout Creek for a few years - at least ever since we visited the Northern Territory in 2019.
Finally this year we made it to Queensland, after having to postpone in 2020-21.
Made famous by the world wide box office hit, Paul Hogan’s 1986 movie, Crocodile Dundee, the main attraction in the tiny town of McKinlay, located 101 kilometres south of Julia Creek, in outback Queensland is the Walkabout Creek Hotel. The pub was on the list of our son’s must does when we travelled through outback Queensland in July-August 2023.
Who could forget Paul Hogan’s iconic Mick Dundee. Paul Byrnes, film critic and journalist, writes, ‘Mick Dundee is all things to all people – self-made man, tough guy, bush philosopher, romantic lead, old-fashioned knight, defender of women, tamer of wild animals, and wandering free spirit.’National Film & Sound Archive of Australia
The hotel, originally named the Federal Hotel, was one of four originally in McKinlay. It was built in 1900, licensed in 1901, and owned by Mrs Kate Machett.
|from Filming Locations of Crocodile Dundee - MovieLoci.com|
Along came Paul Hogan in 1985 and The Federal Hotel was fitted with a false façade to become the dusty outback Walkabout Creek Hotel for the Crocodile Dundee movie. After the worldwide success of the film, the hotel’s name was officially changed. In 1996 the hotel was relocated about a kilometre around the corner to Kirby Street on the Landsborough Highway, following the redirection of the popular Matilda Way tourist drive. The hotel was renovated, and the interior capitalises on the pub’s association with Crocodile Dundee with photos and memorabilia making it a tourist attraction.
The movie set for the inside pub scenes was given to them by the film’s producer John Cornell, and can be seen out the back of the hotel. The Never Never Safari truck is parked out front.
|The Walkabout Creek hotel movie set from Crocodile Dundee|
Paul Hogan’s character Mick Dundee was loosely based on a real life Australian bushman and buffalo hunter, Rod Ansell. However if you want to see more of the Australian movie locations you will need to travel to Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, over 1600 kilometres away – there are no crocodiles in McKinlay! And Charlie the buffalo? He now has pride of place on the bar of the Adelaide River Inn south of Darwin.
Interestingly - There are two versions of the film: the Australian version, and an international version, which was slightly shorter and had much of the Australian slang replaced with more commonly understood terms. It became Australia’s highest grossing film worldwide.
Here is a little pro movie clip from Youtube
In 1883 a receiving office was opened, and in 1888 a staging post for Cobb and Co Coaches was established, and McKinlay became gathering point for local graziers. Water for stock was an issue until the first artesian bore was put down in 1884. The railway line from Richmond reached Julia Creek, 101 kilometres north of McKinlay, in 1908, and Julia Creek was established as a maintenance town for the railway line. The McKinlay Shire Council offices, originally located in McKinlay, were moved to Julia Creek by wagon in 1930.
|flat cattle grazing country around McKinlay|
After Qantas was formed in 1920 there were two air services per week in McKinlay. On one occasion a plane piloted by Lester Brian hit a fence and the top wire tangled around the axle pulling the plane over. It is said that a lady passenger was travelling with her pet cockatoo which kept up a constant stream of chatter.
The McKinlay school which opened in 1897, closed in 1985 and by 1986 there were very few buildings left in McKinlay. Population of the town is now only between 10 to 15 residents.
Take a wander around the streets to see the few remaining buildings including Queensland’s smallest library. Used as Never Never Safari Tours office in Crocodile Dundee, the library is not sadly not currently operating. The McKinlay war memorial and John McKinlay’s statue, unveiled in 2012, are located across from Centenary Park, where there is a playground for the kids to burn off some energy. The storyboards at the park share some interesting historical information.
In June the McKinlay Races attracts people with horse racing, foot races, tug of war, fashions on the field, and family friendly events, as well as live music at the pub.
99 kilometres south west of McKinlay is Combo Waterhole on the Diamantina River at Kynuna. It is said to have inspired Banjo Paterson’s Waltzing Matilda based on an incident believed to have happened there in the 1890s.
During our visit we saw that the Walkabout Creek Hotel is up for sale if you are wanting to buy a slice of Australian movie history. They have regular events at the pub. Drop in any time and say hi and buy a drink.
WHERE IS IT? McKinlay is located 1,597 km from Brisbane via Longreach and the Landsborough Highway. It is 101 km south of Julia Creek and 240 km north west of Winton. The arrow points to it on this map.
Walkabout Creek Hotel has 18 single workers rooms, and a caravan park with powered and unpowered sites. Counter lunches and dinners are served seven days during the busy period from March to September.
The At The Creek Visitor Information Centre is located at 34 Burke Street, Julia Creek
Julia Creek Visitor Information Centre – www.atthecreek.com.au
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