Until the 1960s, the St George township was made up of mainly non-Indigenous households, a few Indigenous households (the Weatherall, Weribone, Waters and McPherson families) and Aboriginal town camps beside the Balonne River. When land clearing and pastoral development accelerated in western Queensland after World War II, many Aboriginal people were hired as labourers to ring-bark trees and as ‘gangers’ to manage the gangs of men. Others were hired as shearers and stockmen. Aboriginal people left their traditional lands and the towns they had lived in – Walgett, Moree, Lightning Ridge, Nindigully - and moved either into houses in St George or into camps at the edges of the town, of which Hollywood, and subsequently Sandy Camp, were the largest.
The main camp, ‘Hollywood’, on the western side of the river was so named by Aboriginal people because of someone called Esther who lived at the camp; her name resembled that of Esther Williams, a famous swimmer and Hollywood movie star of ‘aqua musicals’ in the 1940s and 50s. There is a sign by the Carnarvon Highway with an Aboriginal artwork around the name ‘Hollywood’, and visitors can walk beside the river on a dirt road towards an inlet where children played and people fished.
Wildflowers and Hollywood sign, St George
Hollywood sign on Carnarvon Highway, St George
Hollywood inlet, St George