Planning on heading to Longreach but don’t know enough about the area? Read on….
Positioned in the Central West of Queensland is a town called Longreach, aptly named so as it is situated after the ‘long reach’ of the Thomson River.
Longreach is the perfect illustration of a working outback town. Absorb the atmosphere as you stroll through town amidst station folk shopping for animal feed and machinery in the rural stores – their lined faces and battered ‘Akubras’ telling their own tale of outback life in this vast, sunburned country. Historically, Longreach was a major stock route junction and to this day, it plays a major role linking together transport for this part of the country.
This relatively small town, with a population of around 3,100, has several heritage listed sites which includes the popular attraction Qantas Hangar (more about that later).
However, in recent years, Longreach has been suffering a crippling drought. When we visited last year everything was so dry and it wasn’t uncommon to see kangaroos and emus close to town looking for water, but on our recent trip this year (October 2016) we noticed such a massive change!
After the past three years, where they didn’t even have a combined equivalent of one year of average rainfall, Longreach has just experienced the wettest winter in human history. Everything is so green around Longreach…but don’t be fooled into thinking everything is back to normal after the drought. It’s not.
A lot of the green we see, are initially weeds – these will die off and rot back into the earth before the real feed comes back to life again for the livestock. Overall it will take about 11 years for this community to overcome this drought and for the properties to get the stock back to the numbers they had pre-drought.
In town though, the same lovely country hospitality and friendliness is evident and what a pleasure it is to spend a few days in town.
Communities like Longreach rely on the tourist dollar for sustainability through the hard and good times.
Most people have heard of the Stockmans Hall of Fame, but there is much more than this in Longreach. This amazing place is a tribute to the pioneers of the Australian outback, past and present. There are currently more than 1200 items on display and this fascinating collection of photographs, memorabilia, audio-visual presentations and informative displays deserve at least a few hours of attention, if not a full day.
The Museum (whose impressive architecture is a spectacle in its own right!) houses a series of themed galleries that weave together the fascinating story of outback Australia; from the arrival of the Aborigines more than 40,000 years ago to European settlement and exploration, the establishment of farming, mining and forestry and the huge recent changes brought about by technology. The incredible stories of the explorers, pioneers, pastoralists, stockmen and Aborigines who built this country will give you an enduring understanding of the outback and the Australian people. The Museum is open from 09:00 and we’d suggest you arrive pretty close to this time to allow you plenty of time to take it all in. Most people take about 2 hours’ minimum for the museum alone.
Another big draw for this town is the Qantas Founders Museum. Pop along to see genuine artifacts and displays, multimedia exhibitions encompassing the Heritage listed Qantas Hangar. It houses the DC-3 Airliner, DH-50 and DH-61 Aircraft. There is also a 1.5-hour guided tour of the 747 & 707 jets, or if you’re a real plane buff – there’s a 747 Wing Walk. Open 09:00–17:00, last tour @ 14:30 (for both Jet Tour and Wing Walk). Museum Entry Only: Adult $28 / Senior $23. Museum Entry & Jet Tour: Adult $63 / Senior $53. 747. Wing Walk (does not include museum entry) Adult $65 / Senior $60.
Fancy experiencing an authentic outback experience that’ll leave lasting memories? Then you should definitely think about taking a ride on the Outback Pioneers Cobb & Co Stagecoach Experience! Relive the pioneer days with a gallop through the bush along a stretch of the old mail route between Longreach and Windorah! Started by the Kinnon family, after hard times, they decided to diversify and noticed an increase in ‘grey nomads’ travelling through in their motorhomes, so they set up the stage coach rides. You can find out more details on times and pricing on their website.
It was a huge success and everyone who goes on it, loves it and it’s not hard to see why! It has been done so well and with the whole family involved, it’s something they’re incredibly passionate about. We also found out on our recent trip that this family also provide the most delicious home baking to the paddle steamer sunset cruise on the Thomson River.
What is so great about this family is they are incredibly humble and take the time to educate the tourists (whether you’re from a farming background or a city slicker) on what life is like on the land. Add in humour and more delicious food, they’ve got a recipe for success. This is a fair dinkum outback experience.
Throughout all of the tough times in Longreach of late, there is still the community spirit and this is evident with the ‘bra fence’. Diagonally opposite the police station we find a collection of bra’s gently moving in the breeze – apparently for a fiver, you can attach your bra to the fence which is raising funds for breast cancer research.
The most delicious of all finds in Longreach would have to be the local bakery – the Merino Bakery. Never have we found a bakery in all our travels that consistently offers the most delicious and freshest food. From the fresh cream donut to the sausage roll that tastes like they used to taste. The bread is fresh which in the outback is always welcome….and the coffee is top notch too. You’d be silly not to pop in for at least a rum ball – at $1 they’re a must have even for those on the tightest of budgets.
Also, whilst wandering around own, for a gold coin donation, you could check out some local painting, pottery and leather and fabric crafts at the Longreach Arts and Crafts Centre (111 Ibis Street, open 14:00-17:00) which is housed in the upstairs gallery of a beautiful heritage-listed building. You’ll probably stumble over a few other tiny galleries around town as you explore – there’s quite the artist talent pool here!
For something a little different, take a wander through the old Longreach Cemetery on the corner Lark/Raven Streets. Established in 1893, it is the resting place of some of the early pioneers of Longreach and you will discover many stories hidden here amongst the headstones and epitaphs, including the sad story of ‘The Longreach Cinderella’, little Grace McDonald who was kept in rags and murdered by her father and stepmother in 1903.
Their also the Longreach Botanic Walkway, which is an interesting 2.5km walk between the town centre, the Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Iningai Nature Park, located on the Longreach Town common. It includes sections of floodplains and waterholes and there are also some other bushwalking tracks of various lengths leading from the Iningai Nature Park (just south of town) where parking is available. The walks and loops are well-maintained and showcase the local flora and fauna. Take water as it can be a hot walk.
Longreach has a couple of caravan parks for those who’d like full facilities or if you are self-contained, there is a free camp down by the Thomson River, or nearby rest areas allow overnight parking too.
We love this little town and it was really nice stopping by recently as see the changes that are happening. If you’d like to find out more details on how to hire a campervan and plan this trip, take a look at your campervan hire options here or feel free to get in touch. We’d love to help you make this trip become a reality!