Murderers Bore, Kilcowera Station, Outback Australia.
Murderers Bore, Kilcowera Station, Outback Australia.

In the early 1940’s a horrific murder was carried out on Kilcowera, the murderer, James Callaghan was caught and sentenced to life imprisonment.  This fascinating case was the first one in Australia where a conviction was made solely on forensic evidence.  It was also the springboard for Detective Sergeant Bischof who later became Commissioner of Police in Qld. 

But the interest in Murderers Bore lingers on.  About 1990 some misguided soul dropped a large rock down the bore hole and effectively clogged up the bore thereby making it useless as a stock watering point.  A few years after that some Queensland Museum guys were visiting Kilcowera and seeing the original drilling rig used by James Callaghan sitting in isolated splendour alongside the borehole, asked if we would like to donate it to the museum.  So feeling very important, we agreed and in due course they came back with a truck and took it away. 

Since then we have started our tourist business and realise what a valuable asset we gave away.  And to rub salt into the wound – the rig has never been displayed but is evidently sitting in a big shed in Brisbane gathering dust. A lovely old lady tracked it down for us and took some rather blurry photos and sent them to us.

In the intervening years we have had some wonderful visitors who have given us much more information on the grisly murder.  The story made it into a book on Outback Murders, another bloke who grew up with the story gave us lots of newspaper clippings reporting the story of the murder and subsequent trial.  A few other people have made the trip out here just to see the site of the tragedy and experience the isolation of the bore.

The last of these visitors was Jean, an 84 year old cougar with her toyboy aged a mere 72.  Jean was living at Boorara Station at the time of the murder and was about 13, she met Callaghan on numerous occasions and also met the poor bloke who was killed, William John Groves.  But best of all Jean gave us her old photo album showing the bore being drilled, the trucks used to cart the equipment to the bore site and pictures of the two men involved.  She was happy to give the album to us as she said no one in her family was interested and would just throw the album out when she died.  She was also thrilled to have the opportunity to visit her old stomping ground once more and we were very grateful that she did and will treasure her photographs as part of Kilcoweras’ history.