Over the last couple of days I started having a little look at what there might be to do and see in Longreach. To my surprise there is plenty. Who would have known a little outback Queensland town could have become such a Mecca. There are plenty of fascinating stories to be told here and we are going to have to stay for a week to see it all.
But first before we even get to Longreach we passed through a town call Barcaldine. We’d only just heard about an attempt to break the world record for longest line of moving RV’s. We’d just missed it by a day but the town was still full of vans and RV’s and was buzzing. It’s seems it was a success but apparently took the whole day and late into the evening / night to get everyone in place, get the line moving and record the procession.
Arriving in Longreach we checked in and settled in. Knowing we would be here for a few days it was also a chance to get a few chores and few jobs Ken was keen to do on the van. Testing the solar panels was one and fitting some clips and hooks in the tunnel boot to keep thing a little better organized in there.
Our first day we schooled before popping into town to check it out, book on the Cobb and Co coach tour and have some lunch. The afternoon was used to crack on with some of those never ending chores and the with the weather warm a little later in the day the girls as always were keen to check out the pool. They have not yet been put off caravan park pools, even though they are usually freezing. They didn’t stay long but had fun.
The following morning we paid a visit and did a tour of the Longreach School of the Air campus. What a fastinating morning. We observed classes in session, walked around the campus, learnt about the area the school covers and the relationship between the teachers, parents or governesses and students. It was really great to see how schooling works in these very remote areas and the way a community can function over such vast distances.
Our next outing was the Qantas Founders Museum. What an awesome afternoon. We only had half a day here but really could have spent the entire day. The museum itself is a fantastic collection and tells the story of how our great and national carrier came into existence and its impact on aviation in Australia. A remarkable tale of the characters and pioneers (Paul McGinness, Hudson Fysh, Ferguson McMaster and Arther Baird) that built Qantas up in the harsh Queensland outback.
It’s not just some little outback museum (we’ve seen a few of those, and still love them), but this is next level and world class. Tours are on offer of both the donated aircraft that sit out the front. The Boeing 747 and heritage 777. Both have a few stories to tell but the 777 tells an epic tale of rags to riches to rags.
She was fitted out with no expense spared for a Saudi Prince but in the end was left abandoned without a buyer because all her leather seating and fixtures were pig leather! Turns out there were any wealthy enough Christians in the world so she rotted away at the end of a tarmac somewhere until some Qantas enthusiasts tracked her down and spent the next 6 – 9 months getting her air worthy again before bringing her home.
The next day was a very fresh and early start for a Cobb and Co coach ride. Only a few of these operate around the world apparently, and they even get the horses and wagons up to a full gallop giving you a sense of just how rough a ride folks would have been having in those days. It was fabulous, a family run business and the twin boys are quick witted and pretty funny.
We ended up spending the best part of 5 hours at the Kinnon and Co experience. Cobb and Co stage coach ride, morning tea, old time movie and show. The kids loved it! Funny, educational, entertaining and animals, what more cold we hope for.
At this point we’d been having such a great time but were keen for a down day not going anywhere or being on a schedule so thats what we did. Being conscious we are heading into even more remote parts of the country we need to make sure we were prepared with equipment, maps and food so it was great to have a day to be sure we were set to move on.
We couldn’t leave Longreach without a visit to The Stockmans Hall of Fame. So that is where we spent our last day. It was also a very interesting day. Learning about stockmen, stock horse, the work and lifestyle. It’s a vocation and a bit of a dying art. These days trucks, helicopters and land cruiser utes are replacing the old fashion use of horses and stockmen. It’s a shame in a way, a legendary craft. There is a special bond when man and animal work, live and share a love together.
At this point in our trip we are acutely aware that we still have a lot of territory to cover and are running out of time, but we are finding outback Queensland so rich in history and tales of adventure we are not wanting to miss much. We make a conscious choice just to enjoy where we are and if we run out of time closer to home so be it. Longreach has been amazing and considering we never planned or intended to be here we are grateful fate bought us by.
The final cherry on top was walking back from the toilets on the last morning and spotting Delilah a Ragdoll cat! Just like our beloved and much missed River at home. My jaw dropped and I just knew Georgia was going to love this little surprise. She was so beautiful and while it was amazing to meet her, I think we all left a little sad and missing River even more.