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Discover Longreach

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by Ian Gill (subscribe)
I'm a Victorian based freelance writer & photographer. If you like this article click the 'Like' button, Facebook it to your friends & family and subscribe to my articles. Like my photos? Checkout my full collection at https://footloose.picfair.com
Published January 1st 2022
A Queensland Outback Icon
Longreach, in central west Queensland, is an Australian outback icon, literally born on the back of the aspirations of two would-be graziers who passed this way in 1860 in search of quality grazing land.

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Building of the Longreach Railway Station, a magnificent Edwardian structure, was a long-winded affair taking almost 20-years from 1887 to 1916. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media


Longreach, in central west Queensland, is an Australian outback icon, literally born on the back of the aspirations of two would-be graziers who passed this way in 1860 in search of quality grazing land.

William Landsborough and Nat Buchanan couldn't believe their luck when they found the Thomson River surrounded by flourishing grass plains. The pair lacked the money necessary to go it alone so, in 1863, they entered into a partnership with the Scottish Australia Company to lease a staggering 2,000 – square miles, more than half a million hectares of land, named it Bowen Downs and eventually stocked it with 350,000 sheep and 35,000 cattle.

The Mount Cornish outstation was established in the early 1870s and led to the development of Longreach, named after a particularly long stretch of the Thomson River, as a camp for teamsters carrying supplies to the station. The town was officially gazetted in 1887 and by 1890 boasted three hotels and a Police Station. The Post Office was opened in 1891 and the railway from Rockhampton via Barcaldine arrived in 1892.

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Modern day Longreach is something of an oasis in the midst of a generally arid outback landscape. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media


In 1870, Harry Redford, better known as Captain Starlight, together with four partners in crime stole a thousand head of cattle and drove them more than 2,000–Kilometres to market in South Australia. When he tried to sell the cattle, Redford was arrested and sent back to Queensland for trial. Despite the evidence, he was acquitted, probably because public opinion suggested that if he was silly enough to attempt such a daring feat he deserved to get away with it. Rolf Boldrewood's epic novel Robbery Under Arms is said to be based on Redford's escapade.

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The 'Welcome' mat is always out in Longreach. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media


Longreach boomed on the back of the wool clip through the 1920s and wealthy graziers gave financial support to a local fledgling airline, Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services, with the construction of a hangar in 1921 and a major maintenance workshop in 1926.

The rest is history. Qantas went on to pioneer the Kangaroo Route to London, first with the Empire flying boats then long-range piston engine airliners and finally into the jet-age. Today Longreach, with a population of around 3000, is the largest and most prosperous town in central west Queensland and a vital service centre for one of Australia's largest and richest sheep and beef regions. It's also outback Queensland's undisputed tourist mecca.

Arriving from the east via the Landsborough Highway, you'll pass the Australian Agricultural College on your left, the airport with the Qantas Jumbo-jet on the right and directly opposite, to the left of the highway the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame.

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Catching up with fellow travellers on the outskirts of Longreach. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill ;/ Footloose Media


The town's main thoroughfare is Eagle Street, the result I think of someone involved in the early development of Longreach being obsessed with birds and naming all the streets after them, those running east-west after water birds and those running north-south after land birds.

Like main streets in most major outback towns, Eagle Street is a broad and imposing thoroughfare and the retail centre of town. For me, the standout attraction here was The Station Store, an old fashioned Emporium selling outback clothing, hats, boots, leather goods, stockmen's supplies and country homewares. Elsewhere there are pubs, clubs, restaurants and all manner of services as well as an interesting piece of John Underwood street art titled 'The Drovers'.

Queensland,Brisbane,Longreach,Museums,History and Heritae,OUtback Travel,Road Trip,Get Out Of Town,Escape The City,Great Family Getaway
Expect the unexpected when travelling in this part of the country. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media


Nearby, in Qantas Park at the top end of Eagle Street, you'll find the Longreach Regional Visitor Information Centre housed in a replica of the first QANTAS Booking Office.

Local highlights include two of the nation's most popular tourist attractions. The Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre and, right across the road, the QANTAS Founders Museum.

Opened in 1988 the Stockman's Hall of Fame is considered by many to be outback Queensland's biggest & best attraction. It's housed in a stone, timber and corrugated iron structure that has welcomed more than a million visitors and provided each of them with an outstanding insight into life in the outback.

Five themed galleries tell the story of early explorers and pioneers, stockmen & station hands, pastoralists and the Iningai aboriginal people through an amazing array of artefacts, photographs, touch screens and audio-visual displays.

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Eagle Street is home to 'The Drovers', street-art created by John Underwood .....


Queensland,Brisbane,Longreach,Museums,History and Heritae,OUtback Travel,Road Trip,Get Out Of Town,Escape The City,Great Family Getaway
..... and The Station Store, an old style Emporium selling all your outback needs. Photo's: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media


The idea for a Stockman's Hall of Fame was first floated in 1974 and was supported by the legendary R.M. Williams who, along with others, coordinated the fundraising necessary to bring the dream to fruition.

Additional funds allocated by State and Federal Bicentennial programs allowed construction to get underway. Completed in 1987, the centre was opened in the Bicentennial year by Her Majesty the Queen on 29th April 1988.

Open Tuesday to Saturday 10 AM to 3 PM entry to the Museum & Gallery costs Adults $35, Concession $31.50, Children (5 to 12 years) $20, Under 5-years FREE or a Family Ticket (2A 2C) costs $100. See the website www.outbackheritage.com.au for details of special events, costs and online bookings during ongoing COVID restrictions.

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A replica of the original QANTAS Booking Office serves as a Tourist Information Centre in Eagle Street. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media


In 2020, QANTAS celebrated its 100th year of operations and nowhere commemorates our great airline quite like the QANTAS Founders Museum at Longreach.

The company's first commercial flight departed Longreach for Winton on 7th February 1921. Travelling just 171-Kilometres the flight took 3-hours and 10-minutes. The first QANTAS scheduled airline flight departed Charleville on 2nd November 1922 bound for Cloncurry. It took two days with a refuelling stop at Blackall and an overnight stay in Longreach. The only passenger on the flight was an 84-year old pastoralist named Alexander Kennedy.

The QANTAS Founders Museum opened in 1996 dedicated to telling the QANTAS story while displaying an amazing collection of restored aircraft including airline icons like the Douglas DC3, the Consolidated Catalina, the Boeing 707 VH-XBA formerly VH-EBA, the airlines first jet aircraft, and a Boeing 747-200. There are also replicas of early QANTAS aircraft including the DH61 Giant Moth, the DH50 and the AVRO 504K, the aircraft that carried the first paying passenger.

Queensland,Brisbane,Longreach,Museums,History and Heritae,OUtback Travel,Road Trip,Get Out Of Town,Escape The City,Great Family Getaway
QANTAS Super Constellation aircraft were introduced on the Kangaroo Route in 1947 and flew 'round the world' services from 1958. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media


Entry to the museum costs Adults $30, concession $25, Students $22, Children 5 to 16 years $20 and a Family of 2 Adults 2 Children $85. A range of optional extras including access to aircraft is available. Check the website www.qfom.com.au for full details, availability and costs during ongoing COVID restrictions.

Despite its prosperity and wealth of modern-day amenities, Longreach remains an outback frontier town rich in history and with a host of attractions appealing to visitors from far and wide.

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'The Ringer' by sculptor Eddie Hackman stands in front of the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame .....

Queensland,Brisbane,Longreach,Museums,History and Heritae,OUtback Travel,Road Trip,Get Out Of Town,Escape The City,Great Family Getaway
..... where a modern day stockman works sheep to entertain and educate visitors. Photo's: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media


Getting There …..

Longreach is on the Matilda Way 1,178-Kilometres northwest of Brisbane, just over a 12-hour drive via the Warrego Highway. It's 689-Kilometres west of Rockhampton, about a 7-hour drive via the Capricorn Highway or 647-Kilometres southeast of Mount Isa, again a 7-hour drive this time via the A2/National Route 83.

Camping .....

Two local caravan parks, Longreach Tourist Park and Longreach Caravan Park, are both rustic but very adequate with good, clean facilities and close to town.

APEX Riverside Park Camping area, also known as Longreach Waterhole, is 4-Kilometres northwest of town on the unsealed Riverfarms Road. A large open dirt area it's suitable for caravans and motor homes. There are toilets and running water, a nearby boat ramp and the site is dog friendly. The cost is $5 per person per night. Sites here cannot be booked in advance.

Top-10 Things to do in Longreach

1. Don't miss the greatest show in town at the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre.

2. Step into aviation history at the Qantas Founders Museum.

3. Take a ride with Outback Pioneers on part of the old Longreach-Windorah mail route aboard a restored Cobb & Co stagecoach.

4. Tour the Longreach School of Distance Education, the old school of the air delivering lessons to the largest schoolroom in the world.

5. Jump aboard Longreach Explorer! or the Thomson Belle paddle-wheeler to cruise the Thomson River with its prolific birdlife and magnificent sunsets.

6. Visit Camden Park Station. 10-minutes out of town Camden Park is a working sheep and cattle station. The Queen visited here in 1970 and was followed years later by the Prince of Wales and Camilla.

7. Visit Captain Starlight's Lookout. It's a bit of a trek to get there, 55-Kilometres northwest of town and involving a 20-minute hike to the top of the lookout but the views are spectacular.

8. Pay a visit to the Station Store, an old fashioned Emporium chock-a-block full of outback clothing, hats, boots, leather goods, stockmen's supplies and country homewares.

9. Snap a selfie with 'The Drovers' street-art on Eagle Street, a John Underwood work created for the 1988 Brisbane World Expo.

10. Perhaps the ultimate Longreach experience might be to travel there on The Spirit of the Outback, an iconic train trip from Brisbane via Barcaldine, Emerald and Blackwater.
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Why? Don't miss the opportunity to visit this iconic Queensland outback centre home to some of Australia's best known tourist attractions.
When: The peak tourist season in Longreach is June to September when the weather is generally mild. Summers here can be hot, oppressive and sometimes very west as well. If you're wanting to avoid the crowds but still have fine weather thing about April,
Phone: Longreach Visitor Information Centre (07) 4658 4141
Where: Longreach is on the Matilda Way 1,178-Kilometres northwest of Brisbane, just over a 12-hour drive via the Warrego Highway.
Cost: Check individual websites for availability, cost and any restrictions during the on-going COVID situation.
Your Comment
I remember The Drovers. They were outside the DPI building in Ann Street in Brisbane. A good re-location to Longreach
by Gillian Ching (score: 3|3954) 21 days ago
A great article of a great location Ian. It seems like you could spend a week there and not see it all. Truly Australian.
by Neil Follett (score: 3|3454) 21 days ago
Thanks Ian. This is a place I have wanted to visit for some time.
by May Cross (score: 3|8052) 17 days ago
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