Longreach is an interesting place to stay. There is plenty to see and do.
This region has been doing it tough with extended drought and recent rains have been welcome. The Longreach Town Centre is welcoming and there are interesting shops to explore and buy that special something. The most recent issue has been a blow for the local businesses. For several days Longreach experienced Telstra outages which left individuals and businesses without phone or internet. As a consequence cafes and other places became Cash Only as they could not offer EFTPOS facilities to customers. This problem seems to be resolved now.
In general, Longreach seems to be demonstrating incredible resilience at the moment. The number of shops that have closed down indicates how tough it has been, but now there are plenty of motorhomers and caravanners in town spending up at places like Merinos Bakery, Kinnon and Co, and other local stores. Tour buses seem to be picking up and dropping off. There are a lot of jobs advertised in shop windows, ranging from permanent positions like store managers, to casual café and shop assistant roles. This is a great turn-around from many other places we have visited this year.
The weather here has been cooler than what we had been experiencing further North. We have had rain of some sort the last few days here, whether a heavy overnight downpour or simply showers and drizzle. As a result temperatures have been held down and overall have been very pleasant – no more days in the high 30s. It hasn’t stopped us enjoying dinner under the stars at the Woolshed Bar while listening to live music. It’s a tough gig sometimes!
Several emus and a family of 4 or 5 brolgas visit our end of the caravan park each day, much to the delight of camera happy campers, just like us.
Here are some highlights of our trips around Longreach in our big car:
Apex Riverside Park Longreach
One morning we decided to stop in town and purchase the makings of a picnic and drive to Apex Riverside Park for a picnic lunch beside the Thomson River. It is a lovely peaceful spot and the river was flowing gently and there was plenty of shade beside the river and plenty of parking for Bertha.
Longreach is an RV Friendly Town and has great facilities for motorhomers and caravanners, including long and short term parking, access to dump points and fresh water, and so on. Apex Park is a council supported “free” camp just a few kilometres from the CBD. There are toilets here but for hot showers campers are referred to the local swimming pool. There are rubbish collection facilities, but not much shelter and it only costs $3.00 per vehicle per night, payable at the visitor information centre. The camp is on the banks of the Thomson River which has plenty of water in it, and when we visited we saw several kayaks out on the water and quite a few people fishing. This camp is also a designated pick-up venue for many of the tours around the district. Council clearly sees a benefit in providing low cost camping facilities in the interests of attracting visitors to town where they will hopefully spend money on fuel, food, meals, groceries, tourist attractions and tours, and so on.
Longreach Railway Station
Another morning we decided to explore the Railway Station. We sat on the station platform in the sun and enjoyed very good coffee and scones.
Although there are still rail services in Longreach, the heritage railway station is no longer used for that purpose. Instead it is used as headquarters for one of the several companies offering tours of the region, and for a very nice, peaceful café. It was a good change from the hustle and bustle of Merinos and other similar places in the Longreach CBD, although it was still within very easy walking distance.
Longreach Powerhouse Museum
Our visit to the Powerhouse Museum was not quite what either of us expected, although it was quite interesting all the same. Other Powerhouse museums we have visited (eg Sydney) are basically a museum located inside a gutted power generating plant. Not so in Longreach, where every item of power generating equipment ever used in the facility is still in place, and labelled with dates, specifications, and so on. This is a great place to come if you are really fascinated by the generation of electricity over the ages.
There are however quite a number of other social history and other interesting aspects of this place, which have mainly been put together by a band of local volunteers to replicate a particular place in time, and so on. There is, for instance, an old school classroom, a display of airport communications equipment, and so on. Of particular interest was the historic recreation of “NoGo” cottage, which is housed in an original cottage from “NoGo” Station. We found ourselves, along with other visitors, commenting that we could remember the wringer washing machine, or historic medications and combustion stove. The cottage kitchen and bathroom were particularly interesting.
QANTAS Founders Museum
The QANTAS Founders Museum tells the story of QANTAS from the very early days in outback Queensland to the present day. There are plenty of planes and replicas on display, and options such as walking on the wings of a 747, having a drive of a Bristol Fighter plane in a flight simulator, and a whole lot more. We only stayed here briefly this visit – we have been here before – but certainly long enough to have a bit of a look around and take a photo of Bertha under the plane wing.
Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre
We couldn’t come to Longreach and not visit the Stockman’s Hall of Fame! This is such an iconic place and there is always something new to see and learn. The place is huge and there are so many exhibits and so many experiences to join in. There are videos, audio exhibits using headphones, and throughout the place are stories of “unsung heroes” of the outback – people who are not necessarily famous but who have an interesting place in the history and in the development of rural communities.
Our first stop was at the Hugh Sawrey Art Gallery. Hugh Sawrey was a somewhat controversial artist who had the original vision to build the Hall of Fame and what it represents. The main building was built between 1985 and 1987 and was opened by the Queen in 1988. The art gallery is a memorial to Hugh Sawrey and holds various exhibitions of “outback” art as well as some of Hugh Sawrey’s work. The current exhibition features John Morrison, who creates in charcoal, water-colours, oils and acrylics. He is quite prolific and is currently undertaking a large scale mural in the Hall of Fame itself.
From the art gallery we entered the main building and took our time wandering though the five main areas which cover such historic aspects as the role of aboriginal workers in the outback, stock workers, the pioneers, outback properties and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
In each area there are displays and exhibits, recreations, collections of memorabilia and artifacts, audio stories, plaques and explanations, and more. So, for instance, there are collections of sheep drenching guns, rabbit traps and more.
There are recreations and collections relating to the Post and Telegraphic services.
There is a plane hanging from the ceiling and a lot more about the RFDS.
There are plenty of sculptures and carvings. And more, and more, and more. There was even a whip maker demonstrating the process for making a raw-hide whip.
It is hard to take it all in so we stopped for lunch in the Wool Bale Café before heading back to try to absorb a bit more history. Then there’s the bookshop and the souvenir store, and the hourly video presentation, and even more.
Overall we have loved our stay in Longreach. It’s a great place to visit. From here we will be winding our way further South towards home. We have a bit of a plan but in general we are quite flexible with how long we travel each day and where we end up staying. What we do know is that we are going to start feeling colder and wetter the closer to home we get.
Tomorrow morning we will hit the road again and see where the road takes us!