Isisford is home to the Outback’s “Biggest Yellowbelly”, measuring 12 metres long and standing a lofty five metres high. Created by community members using corrugated iron, windmill parts and thousands of pop rivets.The impressive sculpture is a celebration of the Yellowbelly Fishing Competition held annually on the last weekend of July. The event held at Oma Waterhole draws masses of anglers from across the country.
The town has an 18-hole golf course, swimming pool, tennis court, museum, post office, two hotels, fuel outlet, library and internet facilities. Camping is permitted at the Barcoo Weir and Oma Waterhole with showers and toilets available. Powered sites are only available from the Hotel. The annual fishing competition is held on the last weekend of July.
The Isisford area was explored by Thomas Mitchell in 1846 and the following year by Edmund Kennedy, both reporting favourably on the district’s potential. In 1856, Augustus Gregory passed through the area in his search for the missing party of Ludwig Leichhardt. Finding the area in drought, Gregory left unimpressed, later stating as Surveyor-General that he could not recommend expenditure on the development of central western Queensland. Regardless numerous pastoral aspirants took up holdings over the next decades, beginning with John Charles Ellis who in April 1866 established the Portland Downs run. C. Lumley Hill followed Ellis in January 1867, taking up ‘Isis Downs’, named after the upper reaches of the Thames River, England.
Continuing pastoral settlement encouraged hawkers into the district and misfortune of two of these early traders led to the development of the Isisford township. Attempting to cross the Barcoo, brothers William and James Whitman broke an axle and decided to settle on the banks of the river. A village soon developed, the siblings themselves erecting a hotel, butcher’s shop, store and saddlery among others. Originally named ‘Whittown’ (or ‘Wittown’) by the Whitmans in self-testament to their founding enterprise, the name was changed to ‘Isisford’ in 1878 when a town was surveyed, based on the presence of a river ford and the settlement’s proximity to Isis Downs station, 20 km east of the town.