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Home > Travelogues > 2009 Travelogues Index > Longreach

The Qantas Museum is also a major drawcard in Longreach, however having seen the history of Qantas at Winton, and considering the time and money we had already spent in Longreach, we decided this was the one we could miss.   

 

 

 

 

 

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Gathering dark clouds looked ominous in the late afternoon, but it doesn't rain here in September does it?  Suddenly thunder roared, followed by a heavy shower if rain.  My husband went outside to turn the gas on and came back a few centimetres taller. His muddy boots went into plastic bags placed just inside the caravan door and we didn’t venture out for the rest of the night. It was a windy night and the cloud stayed but there was not much more rain.  A Shire worker told me in the morning that there had been over an inch (25 mm) of rain overnight.  By morning the wind had dried the surface of the clay enough for us to walk on it and drive away to visit the town where we had rig maintenance booked.

 

Longreach - home of the Stockman's Hall of Fame and Qantas

Longreach

 

Approaching Longreach from the north west, bridges crossed many channels reminding us we were still in channel country which is subject to flooding.  Our first destination was the Longreach Apex Riverside Park Free Campground which is alongside a disused bridge on the Thomson River four kilometres out of town.  We were camped on the grey floodplain clay which they say you will never get off if it rains - but it does not rain this time of year.  This popular free camp was packed out until a week or two before we arrived, but the onset of hotter weather meant those who winter in the north had moved out.  See our reviewhere

 

A series of bridges on the Thomson River where we camped at Longreach

First on the sightseeing list was a visit to the Stockman’s Hall of Fame.  This large museum features pioneers of Australia in all fields; early explorers, settlers, stockmen and women, aviators, miners, storekeepers, showmen and hawkers.  All had their part to play in the history of this land.  Outdoor demonstrations had been cancelled the previous day due to the heat and the day we were there they were cancelled due to rain.    

 

Horse drawn “Cobb and Co” coaches take tourists for rides through the town and a little way out of town along the Jundah Road on a 45 minutes ride. 

 

After a few very light showers in the morning the cloud thinned and the sun broke through.  We felt confident to return to the same spot at the Thomson River campground.  With some cloud remaining the golden sunset was beautiful, then unexpectedly there was a flash of lightening and a road of thunder.  The showers were not heavy, but puddles formed in the grey clay again, and with no wind, the clay was very sticky come morning.  Following the advice of a traveller on an internet forum, I tied plastic shopping bags over my shoes to avoid having them coated in sticky mud.  Everyone laughed at my matching green ‘snow shoes’ as I headed to the bins as we packed up.  My husband slipped over in the mud as he took our lunches out to the car.  

 

A hawker's wagon - the travelling shop of the outback.
 
 
A large dray used to cart wool.
The Explorer's Room had maps of the routes of all the early explorer's treks.  I was particularly interested in Ernest Giles as we had travelled through the deserts he was the first European man to traverse

The Powerhouse museum is opened at 2 pm each afternoon.  Placed next to an artesian bore and the 1921 swimming pool, the powerhouse was close to the town centre as DC power does not travel distances well.  In addition to power plants used over the years, other machinery and vehicles are also on display. 

 

Generating Unit #8

English Electric 7SL

English Electric Alternator

 

This engine is a marine type developed in 1948.  They were used mostly to power small coastal trading vessels and the British Government trialed the type in submarines during the 1950s.

 

This unit was installed in Longreach in 1971, ex Cairns Power Station.  It was last used in 1985 and had the largest output of the diesel engines in the power station. 

Ernest Giles

 

Until the 1870s Australia’s vast western inland remained virtually unexplored.

 

Ernest Giles took up the challenge to prove that Europeans could conquer the vast and blistering desert.  After two failed attempts, Giles decided to tackle the trek from the Overland Telegraph Line to Perth.  In May 1975, with a train of 22 camels provided by beneficent pastoralist Thomas Elder, Giles and his party headed westwards, encountering a sun-scorched desert and dire water shortages.

 

After six months traversing 4,000 kilometres of hideous desert, Giles marched triumphantly into Perth.  Two months later he set out to become the first to make a double crossing. 

 

Though achieving his aim, Giles did not find any land along the way suitable for settlement and his efforts went largely unrewarded.  He remarked wryly that his hardship served only to point out those parts of the continent that should be avoided by others. 

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