Discovering Longreach, and enjoying the long way round
ONE of the greatest aspects about living in Australia is that you don't need to go overseas or have a huge amount of money to enjoy travelling.
My wife and I recently took a caravanning trip through the Queensland Outback and the experience was simply breathtaking.
Using a combination of free stopovers and caravan parks we were able to keep the cost to a minimum while still enjoying what this country has to offer.
We stopped at Barcaldine to visit the Workers Heritage Centre and Tree of Knowledge, under which the Australian Labor Party was established all those years ago.
The original Tree of Knowledge was poisoned a number of years back and a new tree has been promulgated from its DNA and is being nurtured in the Workers Heritage Centre. It is appropriately called "The Young'un".
Barcaldine (or Barky as the locals like to call it) is RV friendly and offers a number of accommodation options and plenty of parking for large motorhomes and caravans.
We wanted to spend a few days exploring the Longreach area and decided the perfect place to set up camp would be the small town of Ilfracombe, 27km east of Longreach.
Caravan parks in the smaller regional centres tend to be a bit quieter and sometimes cheaper than in the major centres.
Ilfracombe has a line of machinery stretching the length of its main street (nearly 2km) and you can spend hours just walking down it. Most of the machines have a plaque telling you the history and what it would have been used for.
One piece that caught my eye was a Marshall Oil Tractor first used in 1912. It weighed a massive 11 1/2 tonnes, had a top speed of 6kmh and used more than 11 litres of fuel to go a kilometre.
Staying at the Ilfracombe Caravan Park is a real experience with a happy hour second to none. Jesse and Cathy Hitson have owned the park for more than 10 years and have made some enormous changes. Jesse had the crowd in stitches as he recounted how he met his wife and other outback tales.
We spent the next day in Longreach and you could easily spend a few more to take in what this town has to offer.
The two "must visits'' are the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame and the Qantas Founders Museum.
The Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame pays tribute to Australia's stockmen and women, pioneering legends and the Royal Flying Doctor Service. It has an art gallery, artefacts, electronic displays, photographs and films.
You may find that just one day is simply not enough time to see all of what it has to offer. Luckily they offer a pass-out which enables you to return the next day for free.
The Qantas Founders Museum is an aviation buff's dream come true and is home to some of Qantas's famous aircraft, including a DC3, Boeing 747 and 707.
Guided tours of the 747 and 707 are available as is a wing walking tour of the 747 (weather permitting).
The 707 was found in England in a poor state of repair but after nearly a year of dedicated rebuilding by former Qantas engineers and many others it was back in an airworthy state and flown halfway around the world to Longreach.
Located around 1200km north-west of Brisbane
QantasLink services Longreach seven days a week. Phone Qantas 13 13 13
Spirit of the Outback rail service operates weekly. Phone QR 1300 131 722
Stockman's Hall of Fame. Open 9am-4pm daily. Phone 07 4658 2166
Qantas Founders Museum. Open 9am-5pm daily. Phone 07 4658 3737
Ilfracombe Caravan Park
- Phone 07 4658 1510