A spirit of ad­ven­ture is easy to muster in western Queens­land

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - DESTINATION QUEENSLAND - MARK FITZ

The ul­ti­mate out­back adren­a­line rush would have to be zip­ping above the tree­tops in a he­li­copter, hov­er­ing 10 me­tres above a herd of camels. As it turns out, heli-mus­ter­ing is just the tip of the ice­berg when it comes to the eye­open­ing ex­pe­ri­ences on of­fer around Lon­greach in western Queens­land.

The drought has been tough and lo­cals have had to get in­no­va­tive to sur­vive. Luck­ily, there’s a strong pi­o­neer­ing spirit within the peo­ple who live in this harsh en­vi­ron­ment. As a way to com­bat the eco­nomic hard­ships of re­cent years, the com­mu­ni­ties here have been work­ing hard to at­tract tourists, proudly turn­ing the dusty old pre­con­cep­tions peo­ple have of the Out­back on their head and pro­vid­ing one-of-a-kind ex­pe­ri­ences that show­case the best of out­back Aus­tralia.

Deon and Lane Stent-Smith are a clas­sic ex­am­ple of the en­trepreneurs in this re­gion and they op­er­ate Shan­don­vale Sta­tion, a work­ing prop­erty two hours from Lon­greach. Down to earth and keen to give you a taste of the real Aus­tralia, the en­ter­pris­ing cou­ple de­liv­ers this in spades. Shan­don­vale Sta­tion caters for a wide au­di­ence. For the ad­ven­tur­ous there’s heli-mus­ter­ing, herd­ing sheep in bug­gies, a gun range and bush tours. Young fam­i­lies will love the chance to get back to na­ture, get­ting up close and even feed­ing the an­i­mals. Sheep, pigs, geese, emus, goats, camels, horses, pel­i­cans, deer and kan­ga­roos are all on hand.

If you’re af­ter a slower pace and want to dis­con­nect and re­lax in a unique set­ting, there’s the tree­top arte­sian spa that’s per­fect with a bot­tle of bub­bly at sun­set or you can just sit back on the ve­randa of the 100year-old Shearer’s Quar­ters and en­joy the seren­ity of the wide open space. It’s not un­usual to be sur­prised at how quiet it is out here and of­ten the only noises you’ll hear are the birds or the wind whistling through the pad­docks.

To top all this off, Shan­don­vale pro­vides lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tion and de­li­cious home-cooked meals. The Shearer’s Quar­ters have been re­cently ren­o­vated, with in­te­rior styling by Deon. From the out­side, the quar­ters have re­tained their rus­tic charm while in­side has all the crea­ture com­forts you’d ex­pect from up­mar­ket ac­com­mo­da­tion and it can sleep up to eight peo­ple.

If you don’t have a cou­ple of days to im­merse your­self in a work­ing out­back sta­tion, but still want a sample of life on a prop­erty, there are al­ter­na­tives closer to Lon­greach. Cam­den Park Sta­tion is set on 7300ha and just a cou­ple of min­utes’ drive from Lon­greach. Home to Out­back Dan and his brother James, win­ner of the 2017 Aus­tralian Farmer of the Year award for Ex­cel­lence in Di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion, the brothers treat guests to coun­try sta­tion tours of the his­toric homestead and prop­erty. The sta­tion is so fa­mous it has even hosted the Queen and Prince Philip.

This isn’t Cam­den Park’s only claim to fame though. Lon­greach’s high­est look­out is also here and Aus­tralia’s first Out­back Yacht Club. The brain­child of Dan and James, the unique yacht club is yet an­other ex­am­ple of stir­ring en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit that be­comes more in­fec­tious the longer you spend here.

An open-top, dou­ble-decker bus isn’t what you’d ex­pect to see on an out­back sta­tion either but this isn’t your typ­i­cal ru­ral town. Nogo Sta­tion is an­other work­ing sta­tion oper­a­tor close to town and proudly uses this bus on its sa­fari tours of the prop­erty.

The bus is an in­ge­nious way for vis­i­tors to take in the panoramic views of the coun­try and wildlife and is a hit with guests. Sheep shear­ing demon­stra­tions, a tour of the homestead and a visit to Cap­tain Starlight’s stock­yards are in­cluded in the visit, about 15km from Lon­greach.



Aus­tralia isn’t fa­mous for di­nosaur bones but dis­cov­er­ies two hours from Lon­greach are slowly chang­ing that no­tion. About 20 years ago, David El­liot was mus­ter­ing sheep on his prop­erty near Win­ton when he dis­cov­ered a fos­sil that would change his life. Fast for­ward to to­day and the Aus­tralian Age of Di­nosaurs Mu­seum is an ex­hibit de­vel­oped by David and his wife, Judy, show­cas­ing di­nosaur bones and Aus­tralia’s nat­u­ral his­tory. Many mu­se­ums are pretty stuffy and strictly no touch­ing but the AAOD is no or­di­nary mu­seum. Not only can you see the di­nosaur bones on dis­play but you can take part in the process of dig­ging the bones up in their Dig-A-Dino ex­pe­ri­ence. The Fos­sil Prepa­ra­tion Lab­o­ra­tory is an­other ex­cep­tional at­trac­tion and gives par­tic­i­pants the chance to see fos­sil tech­ni­cians pre­pare di­nosaur bones for dis­play as well as touch a 95-mil­lion-year-old di­nosaur bone.

In Lon­greach, the Aus­tralian Stock­man’s Hall of Fame is a fan­tas­tic trib­ute to Aus­tralia’s pi­o­neer­ing his­tory and the Out­back Stock­man’s Show is an en­ter­tain­ing dis­play of life as a modern stock­man with fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ries of the early days.

With such a strong en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit in out­back Queens­land, it should come as no sur­prise that one of Aus­tralia’s most fa­mous icons, Qan­tas, was founded here too.

The Qan­tas Founders Mu­seum is just across the road from the Stock­man’s Hall of Fame and was es­tab­lished to pay trib­ute to the peo­ple who started Qan­tas and the in­ter­ac­tive ex­pe­ri­ences are breath­tak­ing. If you’ve ever won­dered what it would be like to walk on the wing of a Boe­ing 747 then won­der no more as you can do that here along with stand­ing in the en­gine of the jet.

Walk through the cock­pit and then fly the world’s only Bris­tol Fighter sim­u­la­tor to re­ally get a feel for the early days of flight in this amaz­ing air­line mu­seum.




Cam­den Park Sta­tion has hosted the Queen and Prince Philip; dig up bones at the Aus­tralian Age of Di­nosaurs Mu­seum, and stand in the en­gine of a Boe­ing 747 at the Qan­tas Founders Mu­seum.

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