Out the back of Queensland

After much discussion it was decided we would head inland from Airlie Beach, mostly because the Queensland school holidays were fast approaching and we thought we might escape most of the crowds that would flock to the coast. Also, we foolishly hoped we might escape the unseasonal rain, which makes life in the camper trailer a bit soggy and annoying to say the least.

We headed West towards Charters Towers, stopping overnight at Belyando Crossing. When we arrived in Charters Towers we found it to be very similar to Kalgoorlie. It was also a gold mining town and the buildings and the Main Street were so similar it reminded us very much of home. In it’s heyday it was one of the main cities of Queensland and the locals referred to it as the World. It even had its own stock exchange!

Charters Towers Stock Exchange

Quick! Free wi fi!

We spent a night in Charters Towers before heading towards Winton. On our way we stopped in for lunch in Hughenden and then continued south to our destination. By the time we arrived in Winton it was bucketing down yet again. We found the least soggiest campsite we could and set up in the rain. The next day the sun came out and we headed into town to do a bit of sightseeing. Winton is famous for its dinosaurs, many fossils have been found in this area and there is even a dinosaur stampede site. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any of the dinosaur stuff as all the roads out to the museum and stampede were closed due to the rain.

The Spot. Where Waltzing Matilda was first played as a song.

And the sheet music to prove it.

Winton is also famous for being the place where Banjo Patterson’s poem Waltzing Matilda was first played as a song at a pub called the North Gregory Hotel,  which still stands in the Main Street today. The pub itself has been rebuilt several times due to fire. We checked out the piano in the spot where the song was first played. We then headed to the Waltzing Matilda centre, only to find it had also been burnt to the ground recently. We were still able to visit the museum out the back which survived the fire. We spent a good couple of hours here finding out about Winton’s fascinating history. It was probably one of the best little museums we have come across, and we’ve seen a few!

Waltzing Matilda Centre

One of many huge windmills!

Old Fire Truck

Old wool bale stencils

Couple of jolly swagmen!

Lily takes the train

The story of Willie Mar’ s market garden is another fascinating one in Winton’s history

After two nights in Winton we headed for Longreach for five nights. It was Lockie’s birthday the next day and he put in a special request to be in Longreach for the occasion.  This area had been in drought for quite a while but this year the drought had broken and, while we were happy for the locals who needed it, we couldn’t believe the run we were having with the the rain. It rained for pretty much the entire time we were there and there was mud absolutely everywhere!
Regardless we decided to make the most of our time. We celebrated Lockie’s birthday by heading to the Stockman’s Hall of Fame. This is a museum dedicated to the stockman and pastoralists who pioneered the sheep and cattle industry here that the area still depends on today. It was absolutely fascinating and there was so much to see and learn. We headed home afterwards to celebrate Lockie’s birthday with a little party at our wet and soggy campsite.

Stockman’s Hall of Fame

Royal Flying Doctor Service – A godsend for remote communities!

Fuzzy saddles of days gone by – sorry no tripod!

Travelling department store from ye olden days!

Old Stockman’s hut

Longreach is also famous for being the birthplace of Qantas. We spent another day in the Qantas Founders Museum, which details the history of the airline and The Australian Aviation history. We did a tour of three aircraft and got to see inside the cabin and cockpit of a Boeing 747 and a 737. Again it was another amazing experience.

DC 3

Boeing 737 – that carried the Jackson Five!

Boeing 747

Lockie in the flight simulator

Lily imagines what it would be like to fly in one of the first Qantas passenger planes that didnt require goggles and had a toilet!!

Likewise Lockie

The shed where Qantas began

On our last day we visited the Longreach School of the Air and did a tour of the school. We learned about how the teachers and students who live in isolated areas do their lessons over the computer at home because they are too far away from a school. It was the closest the kids had been to a school in months and I threatened to enrol them if they weren’t careful!

Despite the rain we thoroughly enjoyed Longreach, there was so much to see and do. We packed up our soggy camper and set off again, this time for Charleville, now slowly making our way towards Brisbane. On our way we passed through Barcaldine, where we saw the Tree of Life, reported to be the tree underneath which the Labor Party was formed. Barcaldine was also the site of the great shearer’s strike. A really interesting little place we would have liked to stay longer but we pushed on to Charleville as we were running out of time.

Tree of Life – now a bit arty for the sake of preservation!

Tree of Life – explained in poem

The Great Shearers Strike

This guy and his dog!

Plaques commemorating the shearers strike

The tales this pub could tell!

Lily on the giant xylophone!

We spent two nights in Charleville where we visited their Cosmos Observatory Centre. Here you could view the planets and stars though telescopes at night and view the sun during the day. We were not able to get into the night viewing as it was booked out, so instead we did a day viewing of the sun through a special telescope designed for solar viewing. We were able to see sunspots and solar flares coming out of the sun. We also got to hold and look at some pieces of meteorites.

After that we visited the Charelville Bilby Centre. The two men who started the Save the Bilby Foundation, met here in Charleville and have made it their mission to try and stop the Bilby becoming extinct. In Australia 30 species of mammals are now extinct, mostly due to introduced animals such as cats, foxes, and rabbits.

Beautiful Bilbys xxx

They raised money to build a predator proof enclosure, enabling them to build up a population of bibles in the wild. Unfortunately when the area was flooded parts of the fence became corroded allowing predators to enter, just about wiping out the population of bilbies they had so carefully built up virtually overnight. Now they are repairing the fencing so that it won’t happen again and trying to rid the area of feral cats before beginning again.

These were also the guys who started the whole Easter Bilby rather than Easter Bunny thing in order to raise money for their foundation. Rabbits take over the bilbies burrows in the wild leaving them vulnerable to predators. So they organised that a portion of every Easter Bilby sold would help raise money for their cause. Interestingly the only Chocolate Bilbies that you can buy that actually donate money back into saving the bilbies are the Pink Lady Brand. All the rest are lining their own pockets. I will definitely be looking for them next Easter. It’s such a great cause and a great story.

Our last night in Charleville was spent around the caravan park campfire where we enjoyed a camp oven feast cooked up by the owners. Red wine and beef stew with damper and billy tea, followed by apple cake and custard. They kids helped to make and serve out the billy tea, and we had a good old chat with our fellow campers. It was a great feed and a great night.
Heading out Charleville the next day we drove East and towards Brisbane, only stopping for a night in Chinchilla on our way. We made plans to head back out into Western Queensland as soon as we could. The history of this area is so fascinating, and being in the places where it all happened puts it into context. It’s an excursion that you could only dream about taking a class on.

Our next chapter in our adventure takes us to the bright lights of Brisbane and the Gold Coast, where we meet up with friends and family for lots of fun times. Stay tuned…

Categories: Uncategorized

1 comment

  1. History is sorted will get the boys to read this so they can learn something.

    Liked by 1 person

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