The opening of Talaroo Hot Springs in May 2021 doesn’t just herald an exciting new visitor experience on the Savannah Way in Tropical North Queensland, it celebrates a long journey back to country for Ewamian Traditional Owners in Queensland’s Year of Indigenous Tourism.
The Talaroo Hot Springs experience includes a caravan park, campground and cafe, plus a new boardwalk around the Springs, private spring soaking pools and hourly tours from sunrise to sunset guided by Ewamian tour guides.
Talaroo Station, a 31,500 hectare property on the Einasleigh River, was purchased on behalf of Ewamian people in 2012 through the National Reserve System and since that time has been managed by Ewamian Rangers as an Indigenous Protected Area and Nature Refuge.
Ewamian people had been dispossessed of their lands for over 150 years since the expansion of European settlement. Resisting European colonisation, many had worked as stockmen and domestics on pastoral properties on country– the only way to retain a connection to their ancestral lands.
The determination of Ewamian Native Title in 2013 and acquisition of Talaroo Station finally gave Ewamian people the ability to live and work on country; to maintain a physical and spiritual connection to their lands, waters and traditional culture; and to allow future generations to walk in the footsteps of their ancestors.
Talaroo is a living cultural landscape for Ewamian people, rich with dreaming stories and centred around the healing Hot Springs which form a lifeline through the ages. But it also represents an aspiration to showcase Ewamian hospitality and share a deeper reconciliation between people, culture and place.
Proud Ewamian woman and Vice Chair of the Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation Jenny Lacey explained. “We want you to come and share it with us. We want you to learn from us and we’ll learn from you too. We want to bridge that gap, as one whole Australian people. We’ve got to bring that glue together that kept us apart back then. We’re going to be bigger and stronger than ever.”
Chairman of the Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation, Ken Georgetown, discovered in his late teens that his grandfather had been taken away from Georgetown, and that inspired him to join with Elders to seek a base for all Ewamian people to get back to where they belong. “To come to that country to see where my grandfather came from was a pretty special moment” he said. That return to country is a tribute to the strength and determination of the Ewamian people. “This is the achievement right here at Talaroo.”
Opening in May 2021, the Talaroo Hot Springs experience includes a caravan park and campground, plus a new boardwalk around the Springs and private soaking pools. Guided experiences include hourly tours of the Springs plus a sunrise “Spirit of the Springs” tour focusing on the spirituality of the springs and an afternoon “Stockman’s Springs” tour revealing the pioneer and cattle history of the property and featuring classic corned beef cooked in the springs.
Overnight visitors share an unforgettable experience around the dancing flames of the firepit at the nightly “Yarning Circle” and in the morning a delicious Campfire breakfast or a breakfast menu option from the cafe
The Talaroo Hot Springs experience has been developed to appeal to Australian visitors within Queensland and interstate, and to international markets as they return. It offers a unique visitor experience uniting one of outback Queensland’s most extraordinary natural attractions with a First Nations perspective and perfectly complements existing hero experiences of the Savannah Way at Undara Lava Tubes and Cobbold Gorge.
The Hot Springs
The Talaroo Hot Springs are a unique and globally significant geological wonder dating back 65 million years.
One of only two mound springs in Australia and the only one not fed by the Great Artesian Basin, Talaroo has a unique ecosystem and is home to flora and fauna found nowhere else on earth.
Mound springs take their name from the distinctive mounds that build up as water flows from the top onto the surrounding plains. At Talaroo, this water takes an incredible 20,000 years from falling as rain in the nearby Newcastle ranges to discharging from the Springs at 53-63°C.
Talaroo’s pools and terraces present a truly surreal landscape of vivid colours, diverse formations and unique lifeforms and provide a captivating backdrop to the stories told on each of the guided tours.
Talaroo Hot Springs are located between Georgetown and Mount Surprise in the heart of Queensland’s untouched Gulf Savannah and are an unmissable part of the Savannah Way – one of Australia’s great road trips linking Cairns to Broome via an epic 3700km journey.
Journey time from Cairns by road (accessible to conventional vehicles) is 4 ½ hours, or hop aboard the Savannahlander train.
Growing Tourism Infrastructure Fund
Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation acknowledges the support of the Queensland Government’s Growing Tourism Infrastructure Fund in bringing this project to fruition.
Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the Palaszczuk Government was delighted to partner with the Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation during Queensland’s Year of Indigenous Tourism.
“The Palaszczuk Government is contributing $2.3 million to build new tourism infrastructure and re open the historic Talaroo Hot Springs,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“It’s significant for Ewamian to be returning to County in the Year of Indigenous Tourism as demand increases among Queensland visitors for new cultural tourism experiences.”
All Images Credit to Talaroo Hot Springs