Beacon is 42km north of Bencubbin on the northeast border of wheat growing country. The name was originally Beacon Rock but the current
name was adopted in 1931 when the town site was gazetted. The town's motto, 'living on the edge' expresses the feeling of being right on the edge of civilisation.
There is little to attract the casual visitor unless you are fascinated by wheat. There is an impressive wheat silo in town but not much else of note. Around the town is a different story.
The shires in this area are all 'camping friendly' and many of the rock outcrops have free camping areas that abound with wildflowers in spring.
The area was originally opened up by sandalwood cutters and in 2007 it was proposed that a sandalwood dray be restored and exhibited
The shire has adopted the title of 'The Sandalwood Shire'.
Beagley's Breakaway is one of the most interesting sites in the shire and we have reprinted directions to the attraction from the
Beacon website as without directions you probably won't find it.
'Head west from Beacon for 3 km along Burakin - Wialki Road and turn north onto Bimbijy Road. Travel on Bimbijy Rd for 36 km to an entry track on left hand
side of the road. Travel 2 km along the track to a gate, open and close the gate, turn right and follow a farm track along the fence and power line for another 2 km,
entering a large circular clearing at the breakaway and picnic sites. Alternatively, instead of entering the picnic site area, visitors may turn left at that point
and continue on the farm track for 700 m enjoying panoramic views of farm land and nature reserve areas from the ridge of the breakaway. Beware of overhanging
rocks, steep drops and loose stones near the edge of the breakaway. Please be advised - NO VAN ACCESS. This area is private property and you are asked to respect
the owners property, fences and roads. Please keep to the breakaway reserve area and to the farm tracks. Camp fires are only permitted between the months of April
and September. No pets, No shooting. Camping with permission of owner. Please close the gate. Please take your rubbish with you. Ring Beacon Visitors Centre 08 9686 1014
or Mr Beagley 08 9686 1012 for more information.'
This is an alternate route and leads you through station and wheat country to the Great Northern Highway near Paynes's Find. The road is usually passable
but may be closed after heavy rain. It can be accessed from the Burakin-Wialki Rd.
Karoun Hill Nature Reserve
Ernest Giles explored this area in 1875 and commented on the native flora as follows :
'The country between the cliff and Mount Churchman was filled to overflowing with the densest of scrubs; Nature seemed to have tried how much of it
she could possibly jam into this region.'
The nature reserve is huge and occupies 309,678 ha. Early European use of the area seems to have centered around sandalwood cutting and cattle grazing.
14 different mammal species have been located in the reserve but it is clear that many more inhabited the region before European settlement. In 1987 a
program of native species re-introduction was begun combined with fox and feral cat control.
A site of some significance in the reserve is Billiburning Rock.
There is a useful boolet describing the local natural attractions available from the Community Resource Centre for just $5. If you want to visit and
camp at some of the sites in the area this gives great information on access and availability.
Sites listed as suitable for camping include :
Christies Tank, Yellari Reserve, Crimpy's Tank, Karroun Hill, Billiburning Rock, Datjoin Rock, Mollerin Rock, Gabbing Tank, Warkutting Soak, Snake Soak, Beringbooding Rock,
The area was explored by John Roe in 1836.
Shepherds moved into the area in the 1870s and a pastoral lease was taken out at Datjoin in 1872.
Settlers were allocated small blocks of land in 1921-22 and farmland was officially opened for selection in 1926.
In 1924 the North Bencubbin Railway League was formed and this gave way to the North Bencubbin Progress Association.
The Beacon Rock Progress Association was formed in 1931 and except for a short recess in the 1970s it continues to operate today.
It has been primarily responsible for helping to bring essential services to the town as well as developing recreational community
facilities. The Progress Association owns and operates Beacon Central, a building that houses Beacon Telecentre, Beacon Bulletin
Newspaper, Beacon Library, Beacon Landcare Office and a meeting and conference room.
The first train to arrive in town turned up on May 4th 1931 and this helped ensure the survival of what is quite a remote town. The
first school opened in the following year and operated until 1945 when it closed for a time due to low attendance. The school re-opened
in 1946 and continued to serve the town until a new school was built in 1954.
The first town hall was made of corrugated iron, bush timber, hessian walls and had a dirt floor. In 1936 the first talking pictures were
shown at the hall.
A sports oval was established in town almost from the beginning but upgrades to the facilities carried out in the 1960s, 1975, 1979
and 1994 have resulted in a much better facility than initially existed.
Beacon is probably one of the few small towns able to beat itself at cricket as the town supports two cricket teams (Beacon and Wialki).
In the 1950s a country club was constructed and this was replaced with a new building in 1957 with a number of later renovations and extensions.
In December 1970 the scheme water supply was opened.
The Beacon Bulletin has been produced in the town since 1976 and relies heavily on local volunteers for its continued success.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
On The run
In 1971 Aboriginal prisoner, Lionel Arthur Brockman, escaped from Wooroloo prison and evaded the authorities by
heading out into the bush.
Initially Lionel made his way into the bush around Northam and then went north to Paynes Find.
After some time Lionel and his family made their way 150 kilometres to the small farming area of Wialki.
One of Lionel's hide-outs was reputed to be Datjon Rock where he stayed with his wife and 11 of his 12 children.
Lionel was only in prison for petty theft and had escaped only 20 days before his 3 month sentence was due to expire.
Lionel had only taken to petty theft when he ran out of money and wanted to buy Christmas presents and food for his children. Like his father
before him, Lionel had refused to go on welfare for most of his life.
A similar situation caused him to escape from prison when his wife Jean visited and told him the family had no money and there was
no food for their children.
After six weeks on the run Lionel's status with the authorities suddenly changed to 'dangerous' because it became known that he was carrying
a .22 rifle. Being a bushman, the rifle was simply a means of providing food for his family but according to the authorities he was now
'armed and dangerous'.
The press - as is their usual habit - made a great deal of the 'dangerous' nature of this 'half-caste' who had the 'bush cunning' of an Aborigine and the
'planning skill' of a white man. Total racist hogwash but they never let that get in the way of whipping up public fear and anxiety.
Thankfully the press frenzy did not have a major effect on many of the bush people and some realised that a man travelling with his family was hardly likely to be dangerous.
There was some concern about what would happen if Lionel was confronted when helping himself to chicken eggs and such on farms so not everyone was
overjoyed at the prospect of him being in their area. There were some in the community who actually supported Lionel's attempts to remain free but this was
largely concealed in the close-knit community.
Some local farmers took pity on him and turned a blind-eye to the occasional missing chicken as they knew Lionel was feeding
The police kept watch over the only waterhole in the area but Brockman came and went undetected.
On September 24th 1971 Lionel's wife Jean gave herself and her children up to the police. The papers reported that they had been surprised and captured
but that was a complete lie.
On October 7th Lionel and his eldest son were apprehended near Morawa in a bush camp.
Brockman was charged with 52 offences. 29 charges were dropped and there was public outcry
about this supposed leniency but the truth eventually came out.
It finally emerged that Lionel's original offence had come about when a relative stole Lionel's share of payment for work he had done and when Lionel applied
for assistance from the government, he was refused. This led to the initial petty-theft. When Lionel was in prison his family were staying with relatives but when a government officer visited the
home they were in, they were told to get out due to over-crowding. That is what led to Lionel's escape.
One has to wonder how Lionel managed to provide for his large family during his time on the run but provide for them he did.
The police had engaged in a major manhunt for a petty thief that wound up costing $31,146 - quite an amount in those days only to find that many charges were eventually dismissed.
They had obviously conducted such an intensive search due to Lionel's success in evading the law. He was on the run with a large family of children for five and a half months
and had made the authorities look rather foolish.
Lionel was sentenced to three and a half years for 10 charges and 9 months for the remaining 13. This was despite the fact that the government, through its negligence,
had brought about the whole situation.
This story is told in detail in the book 'The Brockman affair 1971' by Tresna Shorter.
Sly Grog Shop
During the construction of the railway the thirsty workers created a high demand for alcohol and a few 'sly-grog shops' started to operate in town.
One hot day a couple of ragged looking down-and-outs arrived at Charlie's place looking for a 'special brew'.
Charlie sent the pair on their way empty handed with the parting words; 'Next time try it on without polishing your boots.'
Mt. Collier Dam, Cleary Rocks, Clafferty's Soak, Christies Tank, Yellari Reserve, Beacon Rock, Sand Soak, Mollerin Rock, Andrew's Tank, Gabbing Tank, Warkutting Soak,
Karroun Hill, Datjoin Rock, Billiburning Rock, Beagley's Breakaway,
Museum, Botanical park, Crimpy's Tank, Tampu Well, Vermin proof fence, Beebeegning Tank, Snake Soak, Beringbooding Rock, Elachbutting Rock.