About 50 km south-east of Theodore along the Theodore-Eidsvold Road, you’ll find Cracow – a tiny ghost town packed with surprises.
There’s some dispute as to why pastoralist John Ross named the area Cracow back in 1851. Some say it was in reverence to the Polish who had fought valiantly for independence, while others say it was the sound of a cracking whip.
No matter though, because in 1875 the town became known for gold!
Sparking a century-long boom, at first prospectors came to try their luck in the fields. Then from 1931 to the mid 1970’s when it finally closed its holdings, the Golden Plateau Mine kept the workers coming. In 2004, Newcrest Mine rekindled gold prospecting in the area, with the mine now operated by Aeris Resources.
Now the shops are empty but the Cracow Hotel remains full of life.
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Cracow – the ghost town with a ghost
You’ll soon discover Cracow is full of the unexpected!
Cracow Hotel is a genuine Aussie country pub, where the beers are cold and locals spin stories full of laughter.
Not a pokie in site. They got ripped out and shot up when the hotel changed hands in 1999 – out of respect for the wives of the gold miners who might have been tempted to blow their dough before flying home. Previous owner and local legend Fred Brophy dropped $1 million that day but he still reckons it was worth it.
Looking more like a home than hotel, the entrance to the Cracow pub is somewhat deceiving. Once inside, you enter a time capsule where bric-a-brac and memorabilia stockpiled over decades, garnish the walls and ceilings.
Visitors have been known to spot and even photograph the resident ghost among the saddlery that hangs from the rafters. Clad in her nightgown, the woman resides in Room 1, often venturing out in the wee hours to wander the stairs and corridors.
The adventure doesn’t stop there. The accommodation is inspired by the great countries of the world. Choose your room to your favourite theme, enjoy the hospitality, scrawl your name on the bar wall and you’re almost a local.
If you’ve never been to a ghost town, the Cracow historic walk along its abandoned streets and shopping strip is a fascinating insight into the life and times of yesteryear.
The camboon campdraft is back – bigger and better
Dating back to the mid-1880’s and passed down through generations, Campdrafting is distinctly Australian; hard, fast and unforgiving.
Showcasing cattle mustering and drafting skills, the Camboon Campdraft is held at the Old Camboon Racetrack, also home to the old Camboon Hall. Stockmen, women and children line up to cut a bull or steer away from the herd, guide them into the camp (arena) and through a course of figure eights and then through the gates (flags) at whip cracking speed. Once the dust has settled, the party continues on throughout the evening with a bar operating and live entertainment. Onsite catering and camping are also available throughout the event.
A local’s point of view
Can I camp in Cracow?
- There’s free camping in the town of Cracow itself, opposite the pub and other powered campsites available for the cost of a donation, about 100 m up the hill.
- Free camping is also at ‘Cracow Beach‘ north of the town on the banks of the Dawson River.
- Other camping options in the Banana Shire.
Is there Fishing around Cracow?
- Cracow Beach
- Glebe Weir
- View the best fishing spots in the Banana Shire
- Dawson Folk Museum, Theodore
- Isla Gorge – Flagstaff Hill and 1860 hand-built Flagstaff Road
- Defence Road historical bridges
- Cracow Mining Museum
- Cracow Historic Cemetery
- May – Fred Brophy’s Boxing Tent
- September – Camboon Campdraft