Barcaldine and a pampered, 200-year-old ghost gum growing on the Central Queensland town’s main street hold a special place in Australian political history. It was beneath this tree that more than 1000 striking shearers gathered by torchlight in May 1891 to demand better pay and conditions.
The "Great Shearer's Strike" collapsed after the ringleaders were jailed, but the watershed meeting led directly to the formation of the Australian Labor Party. The tree is now possibly the most famous tree in Australia, known as the Tree of Knowledge because of all that has happened beneath its branches.
Today the significance of that bitter strike is enshrined in Barcaldine’s Australian Workers’ Heritage Centre. Fittingly, the centre, which focuses graphically on those work-related events which played key roles in defining the national character, was opened on the centenary of the shearers' revolt by Australia's longest-serving Labor Prime Minister, Bob Hawke.
Through its displays visitors can experience the hardships and the victories of Australian workers in helping to build and shape the nation.