Sunday, June 24, 2012


22 – 24 June

After our detour to the Age of Dinosaurs, which was on the way to Longreach, we arrived here late in the afternoon. We had a look at the free camp just out of town, but it was crammed with caravans, and there wasn’t any shade. As the weather has turned out, shade wasn’t that important, as there has been a cold windy change in the weather.

So we finally found a site at Longreach Tourist Caravan Park – which still has a lot of caravans packed in tightly – but we actually have empty sites all around us. The amenities blocks and the washing machine provision are excellent here, and the camp kitchen is quite good as well.  The evening started well with an enormous campfire and a bush poet, an old guy who looked just like Dad. It was quite uncanny. I don’t know whether the photos will have captured it well though.
Alan Blunt, bush poet, Dad's double
The large fire pit with our small camp oven cooking roast pork just visible on the right.

Amazingly in the laundry I met 3 other women from Lithgow – the weather brought that information out. Two were sisters-in-law and the other one was a teacher there in the 1970s. Small world! We have also spent a bit of time in the camp kitchen talking to a couple who are cycling around Australia. She is Dutch and he is German. They only met here in Australia and are raising money for the Flying Doctor Service.
Longreach is the best serviced town we have stayed in so far, and has a broad range of services available. It is better equipped than Mount Isa, which is a surprise. All the streets in Longreach are named after Australian birds. The caravan park, which is in Thrush Road has three resident brolgas.

Longreach is home to the QANTAS Founders Museum and The Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame. Both are excellent museums, with quality displays, but after two days we are suffering from information overload. Especially as some of the material has been covered similarly in other nearby towns.

The QANTAS Founders Museum
The original hangar
Jumbo dwarfing our big baby

The QANTAS museum offers tours of their Jumbo Jet and also a Qantas 707. We did the tour and learnt all kinds of things about the Jumbo. Most interesting was the challenge of actually landing it at Longreach as the runway is about half the normal length required and also half the width. It took lots of time in a flight simulator to reduce the weight sufficiently for a safe landing to occur. We were able to sit in the cockpit and take photos there.

The black box flight recorder - it's orange actually
David in the co-pilot's seat

The 707 was also quite interesting as it was the first one built out of only 13 in this configuration. John Travolta owns number 13 and wanted this one as well. This plane had quite a checkered history, with its most recent refit being done by the Saudis. It was fitted out with walnut furniture, lounge chairs, gambling tables, a double bed, and toilets and bidets complete with upholstered leather covers.  To restore it to flying condition and return it to Australia from England was a mammoth volunteer effort.

David’s distant brush with fame is that he was sitting in the same seat as John Travolta did when he came aboard in Orlando in Florida.

City of Canberra 707
The lounge; gaming tables have been removed
Bathroom: the toilet is square and the bidt oval 
The cockpit had 6 seats
The museum contains many displays relating to the early days of QANTAS, with some of them in the original hangar that was used to both build and repair the aircraft. It is a very well designed facility.

This was the first aircraft to have inside seats. The pilot was still outside. This plane also had a toilet
Inside the original hangar
The Stockman’s Hall of Fame really honours the lives and work of stockmen and women from all over Australia. Although it covers many themes we are now quite well versed in, the quality of the displays is of a high standard. There is a lot of reading involved so kids might be bored fairly quickly.

The exterior, and interior ceiling detail 

We also took a quick trip to Ilfracombe, a small town 27 kilometres east of Longreach to charge up the battery that runs the fridge. The town has excellent historical displays and an extensive collection of farm machinery, but it was too chilly to spend long outdoors. What I did discover though was that the feathers used in the Light Horse Brigade hats were emu feathers. Emus must have been a lot more prolific then than now.

I also had quite a surprise driving in Longreach this afternoon. I saw what looked like a magnolia tree in full bloom out of season. On closer inspection the white “flowers” were cockatoos.

Flowers or cockatoos?
Then they took flight

Tomorrow we are leaving Longreach and heading for Barcaldine.

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