We are certainly finding ‘outback Australia’ intriguing. The small towns have developed a way of turning their life style and history into tourist attractions. That is not a criticism but an appreciation of tenacity in the face of sometimes very challenging conditions.
Longreach, population 2900 and locally known as the Gateway to the Outback, is no different. The town is some 1200km from Brisbane, 700km from Mt Isa and 700km from Townsville. During our three days here temperatures were 33 to 37 degs C during the day and dropping to around 25 degs C at night (and this is winter). The area has been in drought for months, green grass is a rarity, the ground is red and dusty and yet the people are the most hospitable you will ever meet. We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay here.
Australia’s famous Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre is in Longreach. The Centre was created as a memorial to the pioneers of the Australian Outback (including the Flying Doctor Service) and to preserve the outback’s cultural heritage. It was certainly tough times in the outback in the early days. We spent a very informative two hours at the Centre.
Longreach is also the birthplace of Qantas, Australia’s major airline. The airline has a very large and informative museum at Longreach’s airport.
Another little snippet of information about Longreach you may not know – every street in the town is named after a bird. Yep – the whole town. There is Thrush Street, Emu Street, Owl Street, Eagle Street and so on. The water bird streets go in an east/west direction while land birds go in north/south direction. We could not find out how the street names originated but were told that many outback towns have their streets named after a theme.
With yesterday being Fathers Day we went out to dinner last night at a local restaurant – The Woolshed. It was a corrugated iron and bare board shed with the local ‘Slim Dusty’ entertaining diners with his outback songs and stories. It was a lovely meal and a very entertaining evening.
Before we departing Longreach this afternoon we took a ride on an original Cobb and Co Stagecoach drawn by four rather large horses. The total ride was about 3 km and 500 metres of it at a fast gallop. While the short ride was a novelty, travelling a 100km inside one would give the ol’ hips a bit of a bashing. Still the opportunity to ride on a bit of history was a must do.
We had a couple of technical issues to sort out while in Longreach. I would have to say that the ‘man of the van’ is getting quite adept at our technical problem solving – assisted very ably by Andy at Traillite in New Zealand. Many thanks Andy for your support and advice.
We are now on a journey eastward to a small town called Barcaldine and then on to Emerald and the ruby fields. We have quite a few river stopovers on the way but will keep you updated as reception allows.
Keep well everyone.