Day 91 – Cunnamulla to Bourke

We woke to a fine and clear, although crisp, morning and it was clear that today was going to be a driving day.  We got ourselves and Bertha ready for travel and got off to an earlier start than recent days.

First stop was town where we needed to post an important letter and collect some more supplies from IGA – they had a new delivery this morning so we were able to tick nearly everything off our shopping list, finally.

Then it was back onto the Mitchell Highway heading South.  Again there was plenty of wildlife and we again enjoyed participating in the roadkill slalom.

Roadkill Slalom

There were plenty of live emus and kangaroos by the roadside, but many more dead animals and birds on and along the road.  We also noticed a few dead pigs and goats.  The volume of roadkill is horrendous and is the reason we have a bull-bar on Bertha and why we never drive at dawn or dusk.

It was interesting that there were so many emus around – many appeared to be quite content feeding by the roadside whereas others were very skittish and we never knew whether they were going to run out onto the road in front of us or not.  Makes driving a bit more of a challenge.

Plenty of emus everywhere

We also saw some sheep, and several small herds of feral goats, but they at least seem to have some road sense and knew to get off the road if traffic was approaching.

Sheep and goats by the roadside

About 115 kilometres from Cunnamulla we crossed over the border into NSW and almost immediately pulled off the road in Barringun opposite the Tattersalls Hotel for a quick cup of coffee in Bertha, and to put on some warmer clothes.  Bertha’s thermometer only showed 15 degrees and the wind made it seem even colder.

NSW Border and Tattersall’s Hotel at Barringun

From Barringun we continued through the small town of Enngonia which is big enough to have a primary school, a memorial hall, a pub and a police station but not much else.

Views around Enngonia

It was then another 125 kilometres or so to Bourke.  Driving today has been largely uneventful, other than our slalom challenges.  We did come across some roadworks and some line marking which slowed us down a little, but otherwise there were no other dramas.

I think they call this a Rest Area

Views along the highway

Line marking – plenty of warning

Coming into Bourke we noticed some new developments.

New developments around Bourke

There is plenty of water in the Darling River, and even in the Polygonom Swamp Billabong, which we had never seen before.

Lots of water in the river

Even water in the swamp

However we decided to leave most of our sightseeing to another day and make securing our accommodation at Kidman’s Camp our priority.  This is a very popular camping ground/caravan park but they don’t take phone bookings and there isn’t much of a Plan B in Bourke if you can’t secure a site.

Welcome to Kidman’s Camp

Fortunately we arrived at a good time and despite a queue of caravans waiting to book in, there were plenty of sites left and we had our choice of several sites.  We actually chose to park next to a Jayco Conquest motorhome which is similar in many ways to Bertha.

Bertha and Conquest at Kidman’s Camp

After having lunch in Bertha we put our coats on and had a good walk around the camp ground.  There have been some noticeable changes since we were last here.  For starters, there is a new Reception area with a small shop which sells a few snacks, hot food, drinks, bread, papers and real coffee – it’s so new that the plastering hasn’t been finished yet.  This is a great improvement as the old reception was tiny and cramped.

New reception and shop

Other areas of the place have been tidied up and the pool area is looking much more ‘resortish’.  There is some paving underway near reception.  The camp Kitchen is quite impressive and there is a new bank of nice looking new timber clad cabins, complete with rocking chairs on their verandahs.  There are also a variety of older cabin style accommodation, including some converted shipping containers.

Vegie garden, camping area and other views

Views around the park

Container cabins and new timber clad cabins

Impressive camp kitchen

Three times each week Kidman’s Camp hosts ‘Poetry on a Plate’ which is a campfire dinner with entertainment.  Proceeds go to the Fred Hollows Foundation.  .  It’s not on tonight but we have been to one of these dinners before and it was great fun, and warm around the fire.

Poetry on a Plate area at Kidman Camp

We then went for a walk down to the river which have never done in any of our previous visits here.  Just as we arrived at the river the Jandra paddle boat arrived, and blew its whistle at us then continued up the river.  The Jandra departs from a small jetty at Kidman’s Camp then travels up and down the river giving visitors a great river view of the local area.

Jandra paddle boat

Back at Bertha we needed a hot cup of coffee to warm us up after the cold outside, then settled in for the rest of the evening.

Categories: 2017 Up The Centre Adventure | Tags: ,

Days 88 to 90 – Procrastinating in Cunnamulla

We love it here at the Warrego Riverside Tourist Park at Cunnamulla and aren’t in any hurry to leave, so we have been procrastinating about our departure date and where we’ll actually go from here.

Mornings have been a little chilly but every day has turned out to be a beautiful sunny day in the mid-twenties.  Very easy to get used to!

We have spent a lot of time just walking around the caravan park.  It’s a very big area and some new sites have been added since we were last here.  The twin impacts of drought and rain are apparent in various places, but there are very clear warnings as to where campers can and can’t go.  There is plenty of space for all types of campers from powered sites and other unpowered sites suitable for caravans and motorhomes, and larger sites available for camper trailers, tents, etc.  It looks as though the owners are preparing to add some more camping sites and possibly some cabins as well.

Reception building and some of the roses

Views around the caravan park

Throughout the grounds are gardens, watered from the river, with herbs, fruit and veggies available to campers to pick as required.  There are also roses and other flowering plants, windbreak type bushes and trees, and some well-established larger trees as well.  I actually picked some lemons to have with our fish dinner the other night.

Views of the Warrego River

Lemon tree outside our backdoor

Happy Hours happen every night in a fabulous fire pit down by the river.  The park makes sure that there is plenty of wood to go on the fire each night and there are usually several willing volunteers to play with fire during the night.  From around 4.00pm campers can be seen heading off with their chairs and baskets of goodies and a good time is definitely had by all.

Views of the fire pit

The Camp Kitchen is in one end of a huge shed which has some protection on most sides.  There are BBQs, microwave, toaster, sinks, etc, plus tables and chairs and a very eclectic collection of memorabilia and artifacts.  There is a beautiful old combustion stove that Ann would have liked to have brought home with us.

Views of the Camp Kitchen

On Sunday night there was a busker at Happy Hour and he was pretty good too!  At 6.30pm we moved across to a catered 3 course meal in the Camp Kitchen, for a very reasonable price.  Apparently there were 42 diners on the night.  The meal was delicious – pumpkin soup with or without cream; hot silverside with a selection of vegies; and individual sticky date puddings with caramel sauce and ice-cream.  YUM !  We had a great time with our next door neighbours from Mannum in SA and another couple from Kilsyth.  After dinner we wandered back to Bertha for a hot coffee, as beverages weren’t included on the menu.  These dinners happen on Sunday and Wednesday nights, with the menu changing based on what produce is available.

On Monday we packed up Bertha and headed off to explore Cunnamulla for a while.  We had a number of places to go, including IGA (who had restocked since Saturday), the bakery, the newsagent, a gift shop, and the hardware store for some gas fittings for our portable BBQ. We didn’t get quite everything on the shopping list but let’s just say that we made a decent contribution to the economy of Cunnamulla!  There are some fine old heritage buildings in town, and the unforgettable ‘Cunnamulla Fella” statue.  We were intrigued by a couple of signs on one garden bed: one sign asked people not to pick the roses, and the other asked people not to dig for worms.  An interesting combination of prohibited activities in a very prominent area of the town!

Views around Cunnamulla

Views around Cunnamulla

Views around Cunnamulla

We have also spent time under the awning resting and reading, and some time on the computer catching up with paperwork (boring but it still needs to be done where-ever we are).

Enjoying the sun

At this stage we plan on heading off tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, but we’ll check the weather first and then decide what we do.  It will be very difficult to leave this beautiful place when the weather is only going to get colder and wetter the closer we get to home.

Still living the dream!

Categories: 2017 Up The Centre Adventure | Tags:

Day 87 – Wyandra to Cunnamulla

It rained quite heavily overnight and the red dirt in the camping area was looking a bit messy.  The skies were looking quite overcast so we decided somewhat reluctantly that we should find somewhere else to stay for the next few nights rather than stay on (or maybe in) red mud.  Ann made some calls and was able to find us a site (the last one apparently) and the Warrego Riverside Tourist Park in Cunnamulla (thanks for the suggestion Wendy).

Red mud at Wyandra Camping Grounds

There was constant drizzle as I did a quick pack-up of Bertha and filled the water tank and emptied the black water tank.  We said our farewells to Wyandra and headed back down the Mitchell Highway to Cunnamulla.

The rain appears to have had a strange effect on the wildlife around Wyandra, and for the first 30 or 40 kilometres out of the town we had to drive though a veritable slalom course dodging dead animals on the road.  Mostly kangaroos but other unidentifiable bits and pieces as well.

Slalom course on the Mitchell Highway

As if that wasn’t enough, we had an emu run right out in front of us, obviously planning on conducting “suicide by Bertha”.  It didn’t work though and he (or she) was able to join other emus on the roadside.  We also came across kangaroos and sheep on the road, also apparently intent on committing suicide, but failing.  I’m glad that Bertha has a solid bull-bar though.

Suicidal wildlife

We had pretty constant drizzle most of the way to Cunnamulla but the skies cleared to blue the closer we got to town.  Some of the cloud patterns were quite spectacular.  It looks as though we may have escaped any further precipitation today (fingers crossed).

We arrived unbloodied in Cunnamulla at 12.20pm, only to find the town closed.  Practically all the shops shut at 12.00pm, but we did find a small IGA with extended shopping hours to 12.30pm, so Ann was able to restock some supplies – no bread or milk though.  Fortunately Cellarbrations was also open so we were able to restock those supplies as well.

Some views of Cunnamulla

Welcome to Warrego Riverside Tourist Park

Upon nearing the Warrego Riverside Tourist Park we both realized that we had actually stayed here in 2014 – both of us had completely forgotten that we had stayed in Cunnamulla at all.  This is a very nice park – it was still quite bare 3 years ago but now all the shrubs and trees have grown and it is a very inviting place to stay.  There are plenty of green areas; the sites are all gravel; and the amenities and other facilities are great.

Views of Warrego Riverside Tourist Park

After setting up Bertha, Ann whipped up a delicious lunch and we settled down for a rest before we will go along to Happy Hour in the Camp Kitchen.

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Day 86 – Westing in Wyandra with the Kangawoos and Emus

We both slept like logs and woke up to a nice morning with clear blue skies (they’re back)!

This place is pretty much as close to free-camping paradise as one can ask for.  Plenty of space, basically flat sites, toilets and showers, fresh water, clothes lines, seating, access to power points – and all for a suggested donation of $5 per person per night.  Why be in a hurry to leave?  So we decided not to.

The Wyandra Camping Ground is managed by the local progress association and relies on donations to upgrade and maintain the camping area, and other community services around the town.  They receive no council funding but do a great job.

Wyandra Camping Grounds

Wyandra Camping Grounds

An added bonus here is the wild-life.  There is plenty of birdlife overall, plus a pair of emus that seem to be quite unphased by having people around and just wander around pecking here and pecking there.  Kangaroos are plentiful around here, but are a bit more wary about humans.  A mother and her joey seem to be very at home down our end of the park and there are several other adults as well.  At one stage I counted a group of seven kangaroos, happily munching.

The campground is next door to the local school, and the grounds are kept quite green for the kids to play on.  Even though there were some kids running around the school grounds the kangaroos did visit to take advantage of the greenery.

After a lazy start and a delayed breakfast and morning coffee, we went for a long walk around the camping grounds and the town of Wyandra.  We have actually stayed here before, 5 years ago.  At that time the free camp was full and there were no amenities, so we stayed at the small caravan park behind the general store/post office.  It was an interesting experience to say the least, but we were quite happy to be staying at the free camp this time.

Apart from the general store/post office/caravan park there is the Gladstone Hotel, which appears to have received a coat of paint since last time.  These seem to be the only businesses in Wyandra, and both would get a certain amount of business from the camping ground.  There is also a CMCA style dump point; a CFA/SES shed; the Powerhouse Museum (not open); a deserted service station; a church; quite a few dilapidated buildings; and some very nice buildings.  There are some relatively new walking tracks and even some exercise equipment for public use.

Views around Wyandra

Views around Wyandra

Views around Wyandra

Like many country towns Wyandra is very proud of its contribution to the War effort, and there are some magnificent memorials to fallen service men and women.

Memorials to the Fallen in Wyandra

It doesn’t take long to walk around the main town area.

After our walk we returned to Bertha and lazily filled in the rest of the day reading outside.

Welaxing with the Wildlife at Wyandra

Oh – what a life!

Another one of Ann’s excellent Sunset photos

Categories: 2017 Up The Centre Adventure, Free Camping | Tags:

Day 85 – Charleville to Wyandra

When we woke this morning it was much warmer than yesterday – Bertha’s thermometer showed 6.5 degrees at 7.30 am.  Still, after having the heater on for a while, and having had hot showers, the sun started to make a difference and we were obviously off to another beautiful day.

We took our time getting started as there was no way we could leave the caravan park early even if we wanted to – vans and motorhomes and SUVs are squeezed in everywhere so we had to wait until quite a few had moved before venturing out.  We probably shouldn’t admit it but it was actually quite interesting sitting back with a cup of tea just watching as others struggled to maneuver around trees, SUVs, caravans etc in an effort to escape!  Full marks all round – not a single bingle, and only a few frayed tempers!

From Bailey Bar Caravan Park we headed off into town for a bit of a drive and a walk around.  We had stayed a few days in Charleville 5 years ago and it is always interesting to see if we can identify changes since our last visit.

Our first stop, after filling up with diesel, was at the Charleville railway station.  This is a nice old building and was apparently built in 1957 after the previous station burnt down.  It is huge and must have handled a lot of passengers and cargo way back.  Today it doesn’t even seem to be permanently manned. It was interesting to see the old pay-phone still in use.

Charleville Railway Station

Next door to the station was a major change since we were here last – the Bilby Experience attraction has relocated to the station from the Cosmos Centre further out of town.  We would have liked to go in but they were mid-way through a tour and we didn’t want to wait for the next one.

Bilby Experience is now at the Railway Station

We then found an area set aside for motorhome and caravan parking and set about on a walk around town.  There are some beautiful old buildings here; many still used for their original purpose but others which are now used quite differently.  As some of our readers will expect, we had to stop for coffee and cake at a bakery, and it was delicious!  All in all we spent a couple of hours exploring Charleville, and made a few purchases along the way.  We will almost certainly visit Charleville again sometime, but we will try to find somewhere with a bit more room to stay.

Views around Charleville

Views around Charleville

By now it was nearing lunch time so we thought that it was about time we hit the road.  Once back on the Mitchell Highway we couldn’t help but comment that for an A grade highway this road was in quite poor condition.  Lumpy and bumpy and very narrow in places – meeting an on-coming truck was a bit of a test of nerves at time.

One thing we did notice was that for most of the distance we travelled today, both sides of the road have been graded as part of water and flood management efforts.  The plan seems to be to keep any flood waters, and there are plenty of “floodplains” signs around, off the actual road surface and divert the water out into the scrub.  In this way, presumably, there is a better chance of at least some traffic getting through.

Graded Roads out of Charleville

A fair distance outside Charleville we came across some obviously quite recently completed bridge works at Angellala Creek, and the remains of what was the original bridge, and a memorial.  Unfortunately we couldn’t find a place to stop to check things out properly but subsequently Dr Google has advised us that in September 2014 a B-double truck carrying 52 tonnes of ammonium-nitrate crashed at the bridge and caught fire.  The combination of spilt diesel and the ammonium-nitrate subsequently caused an explosion that destroyed the bridge and was heard up to 30 kilometres away.  There were multiple firefighters and rescue workers hurt in the fire and subsequently a total of 15 heroism awards were made.  The new bridge was opened in May 2016 and a memorial commissioned to thank all those involved.

Bridgeworks at Angellala Creek

We eventually stopped for lunch at the tiny town of Wyandra.  There is not much to this place – a hotel, a general store/Post Office/caravan park, a ‘Powerhouse Museum’ (closed today), a primary school, and a free camp.  Oh, there were some emus and kangaroos wandering around town as well.

Views around Wyandra

Views around Wyandra

There was plenty of room at the free camp so we pulled over and had lunch.  It was such a nice quiet, open and flat space that we decided to stay here the night, so we did a quick set-up for Bertha then got out our chairs and enjoyed some reading time in the sun.  Several more visitors have arrived but there is plenty of room for us all.  Not even the kangaroos seem to mind a few visitors to their land.

This really is the life!

Sunset at Wyandra Camping Grounds

Categories: 2017 Up The Centre Adventure, Free Camping | Tags: ,

Day 84 – Tambo to Charleville

We woke to a lovely crisp sunny morning at Stubby Bend.  Bertha’s thermometer told us that is was 4 degrees outside and 13 inside at 7.00 am, so we turned on the heater and the hot water and put on the kettle.  We were soon showered and enjoying breakfast in the sun in Bertha with the temperature at 8 degrees outside and a very pleasant 18 degrees inside.

Stubby Creek – note how close the cattle are

We took our time and then drove into Tambo.  On the way we took a detour to see the Qantas Crash site.  I guess that perhaps I had expected to find a piece of plane wreckage and a plaque, but that wasn’t to be.  There is a simple memorial to the 3 people who died in QANTAS’ first ever crash on 24th March 1927.

QANTAS Crash Memorial

Then we stopped at the Tambo Lake which is a very attractive park.  There are picnic and BBQ facilities, tables and seating, plus toilets, dump point and fresh water for travellers.

Views of Tambo Lake

After a short stop we set off heading south down the Landsborough Highway towards Augathella.  Our first stop was at the Augathella North Rest Area for a much needed coffee in Bertha.

Refreshed, we continued 42kms down the highway into Augathella, which is about 1 kilometre off the main highway.

Scenes along the highway

Fatigue Zone Trivia keeps us on our toes

Augathella is quite spread out and clean and inviting.  Smiley’s Café & Restaurant, based at the Ellangowan Hotel looked particularly inviting with tables inside and outside in the sunshine.  We decided to have lunch there and the food was very good.  There is a range of other shops in town, including a butcher where we stocked up with some very tasty looking dead animal.  There are a number of places to stay and camp, including a donation based free-camp, and free caravan and motorhome parking behind the hotel.

Views of Augathella

Views of Augathella

Views of Augathella

Post Office & Police Station

The State of Origin Rugby match is on tonight and accommodation is at a premium everywhere.  Anecdotally we understand that many free-campers head in to caravan parks to ensure that they can watch the big game.  We experienced this same issue in 2013 so we thought that we would ring ahead to Charleville – just as well!  We eventually booked a site at Bailey Bar Caravan Park in Charleville.

As we left Augathella we turned onto the Mitchell Highway and headed for Charleville.

After some 80 kilometres of uneventful driving we arrived at Bailey Bar and they are packed – even parking vans on the footpath!!

We sat outside in the sun for a while talking to our neighbours, before it started to become quite cool so we headed inside Bertha.  A light tea was all that was required after our large lunch, and we then settled down to watch some TV.

Another great day visiting small outback towns.

Bring on tomorrow !!!

Categories: 2017 Up The Centre Adventure | Tags: , ,

Day 83 – Barcaldine to Stubby Bend, Tambo

We woke to a nice blue sky with a few puffy white clouds.  The forecast top temperature today is in the low 20s.

After a leisurely start we did something unusual for us and started our day with coffee at one of Barcaldine’s bakeries.  The coffee was OK but the service was sooooo slooooooow!  We should probably have done our usual thing and got going and stopped for coffee in Bertha further along the road.

We soon came across some roadworks warning signs but fortunately they weren’t working today.  However, it looks as though sections of the highway are being widened, which would be great.  There has certainly been a lot of grading along both sides of the road.  The other alternative thought is that this may simply be drainage works for upcoming floods.

Another interesting sight along this stretch of highway are the ‘Fatigue Zone’ signs.  The theory is that if you are kept mentally stimulated then you won’t fall asleep, so the signs pose questions to drivers, offer a hint or two, and then provide the quiz answers.   The ‘Fatigue Zone’ signs are hard to ignore and they do get you in after a while.

Newly graded road & ‘Fatigue Zone’ signs

Our first stop for the day was at Blackall, where we stopped opposite the Memorial Gardens and had a light lunch in Bertha.  Blackall is celebrated as the home of Jackie Howe, the legendary sheep-shearer, and is also home to the Historic Wool-scour and The Black Stump.  We had a very good look around Blackall several years ago and actually stayed at the free-camp in town, so today we only drove around to identify any changes.

Views of Blackall

Continuing along the highway we soon arrived at Tambo, where we decided we would stay the night.  Tambo is a nice little town and its claim to fame is that is the site of the first QANTAS crash.  There is also the popular ‘World Famous Tambo Teddies’ shop.  It also goes without saying that there are a few heritage hotels and other buildings.

Views around Tambo

After scouting around town and checking out the several caravan parks, we drove a short way out of town to the free-camp at Stubby Bend.  We stayed here in 2012.

As we only drove just over 200 kilometres today we arrived at our camp site in the early afternoon, so after setting up (not a big job at a free-camp) we got out our chairs and enjoyed coffee and reading outside.  Compared to the last time we were here this place is a lot more popular and vans have been arriving all afternoon.  Our site near the creek is, we think, one of the better sites but the vans keep coming and still keep finding places to set-up.

Views of Stubby Bend free-camp

Eventually the sun went down and it was cooling down quickly so we went inside and Ann whipped up a delicious dinner.

Sunset at Stubby Bend, Tambo

Another great day enjoying a couple of smaller Queensland country towns.

Still thoroughly enjoying the Motorhome Experience!

Categories: 2017 Up The Centre Adventure, Free Camping | Tags: ,

Day 82 – Longreach to Barcaldine

We woke to a slightly grey and overcast morning – never-the-less we both started the day in t-shirts and shorts.

After packing up Bertha we drove into town to stock up on supplies and to have Bertha’s windscreen checked at Windscreens O’Brien.  Over the course of this adventure the windscreen now has a number of small chips so we thought we should have things checked out by the experts.  Everything was OK and the nice chap from O’Brien’s gave us some adhesive spots in case we needed them.  This was a bit of déjà vu for us as the very last time we stayed in Longreach was so that O’Brien’s could repair a chip in the BT-50’s windscreen.

Back on the road we headed South East along the A2 until stopping at Ilfracombe.  We have driven through this little town before but had never stopped, so this time we did.  Ilfracombe is best known for its “Mile of Machinery” along the highway through town which consists of a huge number of items of farm machinery, horse drawn implements, trucks and other equipment plus several heritage buildings filled with various collections, memorabilia, and so on.  It is a very colourful collection and it was great to see so many visitors to town of all ages inspecting and enjoying it all.

Views along the “Mile of Machinery”

Ann collected a couple of tasty coffees from the Ilfracombe ‘General Store’ which she described as stepping back in time.  There is also a heritage Post Office and the Wellshot Hotel, which has been on the same spot for 120 years.  It has a caravan park next door.  There is also a rotunda which serves as a war memorial and a swimming pool with an artesian spa.

Ilfracombe General Store & Cafe

Ilfracombe Post Office and the Wellshot Hotel

War Memorial Rotunda

Returning to the Landsborough Highway we headed on towards Barcaldine.  We were amazed at the amount of roadkill on this particular stretch of highway – easily over 100 ‘fresh’ animals in as many kilometres.  The council does not remove dead bodies so there are skeletons along the road as well.


Threatening clouds roll in

When we reached Barcaldine we first checked out our accommodation venue at the Showground, and then headed back into town for a walk.  We enjoyed a nice hot pie at the bakery, which suited the weather perfectly, before continuing our walk.

Views of Barcaldine

Views of Barcaldine

A couple pf heritage pubs in Barcaldine

Interesting musical instrument – Thong-A-Phone

The Barcaldine street-scape is dominated by the ‘Tree of Knowledge’ which is connected to the 1891 Shearers’ Strike and is believed to be the site of meetings that led to the formation of the Australian Labor Party.  Sadly the tree was poisoned in 2006 so a sculptural cover has been created over the now preserved tree.  There are also other sculptures and murals celebrating the shearers’ strike and associated events.

Memorial to the ‘Tree of Knowledge’

Memorial to the Shearers’ Strike

We then went back to the Showgrounds and set-up Bertha for the night.  Like many showgrounds there is plenty of room for overnight campers, although power poles and taps are quite random.  Still, we’re happy with our spot.

Barcaldine Showgrounds

Excellent sunset photo by Ann

It has been a great day today – not too much driving but lots of interesting exploring.

Who knows what we’ll find tomorrow?

Categories: 2017 Up The Centre Adventure, Free Camping | Tags: ,

Days 77 to 81 – Lazing in Longreach

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!

Grey skies and the aftermath of rain at Longreach Tourist Park

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.

Friendly emus

Family of brolgas

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.

Apex Riverside Park

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 Railway Station

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.

Powerstation Museum

Scenes from the Powerhouse Museum

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.

NoGo Cottage at the Powerhouse Museum

Interior of NoGo Cottage

Interior of NoGo Cottage

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.

Bertha at the QANTAS Founders Museum

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.

Stockman’s Hall of Fame

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.

Art Gallery

John Morrison Mural

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.

Can’t miss the RFDS plane

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.

Some of the Exhibits in the Hall of Fame

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!

Categories: 2017 Up The Centre Adventure | Tags:

Day 76 – Winton to Longreach

We woke to a warm sunny day with clear blue skies.  Again!

This place was simply overflowing.  There was a small patch of grass beside us that somehow a van and a tent had squeezed into, and another rig with a roof-top tent parked at the side.  There was a young family in the van, barely a metre from our slide-out, and the kids were in full voice at 6.30am. So we had an early start too!

The very first thing on our agenda today, after packing up, was to ring ahead and book our next several nights’ accommodation.  We definitely didn’t want to be stuck in an overflow area again.

Scenes around the caravan park

That done, we drove into town for a bit of a look around.  We stayed at Winton for a few days five years ago, and things hadn’t changed that much.  Winton is renowned for its hotels and they are still as popular as ever.  There is a very distinct old world charm about Winton that sees heritage buildings retained as heritage buildings, and farmers from the bush quite happily mingling with the tourists.  It’s a very friendly place to visit and stay.

Scenes around Winton

Scenes around Winton

The amazing Waltzing Matilda centre in Winton, which we loved last time we were here, burnt down several years ago and was a great loss to the town.  Significant progress has been made on rebuilding it and it looks as though it will be bigger and better than before.

Rebuilding the Waltzing Matilda Centre

The extended drought in the Winton region has been very tough on the local community, so it is good to see the town buzzing with tourists, spending on everything from food to fuel to tours, and so on.

Back on the highway headed south, road conditions were remarkably variable.  One minute the road surface was a pleasure to drive on, and then next minute had teeth rattling and was very unpleasant.  There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason as to where the good and bad patches of road are.

Scenes along the way

Along the way we saw several families of emus by the roadside, although very little in the way of cattle or other stock.  There was quite a lot of smelly roadkill though – mainly kangaroos – and today there were birds out feeding on the carcasses.

We saw several families of emus

We also saw a train approaching along what we had thought was perhaps an abandoned rail track – it was a very long train.

Very long train

Again the rest areas appeared to have been upgraded and were great for short stops by cars, caravans, motorhomes or trucks.  Unlike yesterday, however, we did notice that there were campers at two of the rest areas noted in Camps 9.  Perhaps there is a very specific reason why free-camping isn’t allowed on the stretch of road between Cloncurry and Winton in particular?

Typical rest area

There’s still water in the Thomson River near Longreach


We arrived in Longreach around lunchtime and after a quiet drive around town we stopped and had lunch in Bertha in a side street – there are specific areas set aside for caravan and motorhome parking which is great!

Views of Longreach

Views of Longreach

We then went for a walk around town and visited the tourist information centre for maps etc before driving the short distance out to Longreach Tourist Park, where we have stayed before.

Longreach tourist attractions

Interesting street signs

As we had approached Longreach the clear blue skies gave way to dark clouds, and as we parked and set-up Bertha we had about 50 spots of rain on our windows.  Not even a sign of raindrops after a couple of minutes!

Clouds over the caravan park

After setting-up we went for a walk around the park to stretch our legs.  We noticed that the Woolshed Bar was open so cool refreshments were in order.

Woolshed Bar at Longreach Tourist Park

Looking out our back-door – QANTAS museum is within walking distance

Back at Bertha we sat out in our chairs to catch up on some reading.  The sky was still cloudy and we actually felt a few more drops of rain.  This time the rain was accompanied by a rainbow!

Rainbow after shower of rain

Dinner was cooked on the BBQ beside Bertha and we ate dinner under the stars (well, clouds anyway).  There was a delightful cool breeze blowing as we lingered outside with our coffees until it was time to finally go inside.

Sunset at Longreach – sort of

Another great day in the Australian outback!

As we will be staying in Longreach for a few days, we won’t be posting daily updates but will report on specific highlights as they arise.

Categories: 2017 Up The Centre Adventure | Tags: ,

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