TOOLS DOWN IN LON­GREACH

QantasLink Sprit - - Outback Queensland -

We start and end our out­back ad­ven­ture in Lon­greach, in the very cen­tre of Queens­land. The night of our ar­rival it seems the en­tire town has de­scended on the am­phithe­atre be­hind the Aus­tralian Stock­man’s Hall of Fame (out­back her­itage.com.au) to watch the NRL fi­nal on a big screen, then rock into the wee hours to the strains of Lee Ker­naghan and his band. (The next night we catch the Queens­land Bal­let per­form­ing in the civic cen­tre, while Troy Cas­sar-Da­ley is sched­uled two weeks later.)

We re­turn to the Hall of Fame the next day to ex­plore its in­ter­ac­tive ex­hi­bi­tions de­voted to all aspects of out­back life and the con­tri­bu­tions of ex­plor­ers, stock­men, pas­toral­ists and Abo­rig­i­nal work­ers. My son, Archie, is fas­ci­nated by the Royal Fly­ing Doc­tor Ser­vice dis­play and the recorded con­ver­sa­tions be­tween re­mote sta­tions and the doc­tors’ ra­dio cen­tre.

It’s un­likely that you’ll visit Lon­greach as a tourist with­out in­ter­act­ing in some ca­pac­ity with the Kin­non fam­ily. In a stun­ning ex­am­ple of di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion, these for­mer gra­ziers have trans­formed them­selves into Lon­greach’s pre­mier tourism op­er­a­tors, run­ning reg­u­lar sun­set cruises on a re­stored pad­dle-steamer along the Thom­son River – the “long reach” of the river gives the town its name – tours of a work­ing sta­tion with sheep-shear­ing demon­stra­tions and coach rides on mod­ern-day repli­cas of the orig­i­nal Cobb & Co stage­coaches, which op­er­ated for more than 70 years through­out Aus­tralia.

Our short coach ride through the streets of Lon­greach and onto the town com­mon makes us fully aware of how un­com­fort­able this form of trans­port must have been. We’re sit­ting on what would have been the posh seats – at the top, fac­ing back­wards – and when the horses break into a short gal­lop,

I hang on for dear life (al­though the kids think it’s great fun).

By the time Cobb & Co had stopped ser­vic­ing the out­back, in 1929, the Queens­land and North­ern Ter­ri­tory Aerial Ser­vices, founded by Hud­son Fysh and Paul McGin­ness, was al­ready car­ry­ing mail by air. The fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory of the fledg­ling air­line, and by de­fault the de­vel­op­ment of civil avi­a­tion in Aus­tralia, is told at the Qan­tas Founders Mu­seum (qfom.com.au), an­other Lon­greach draw­card. Guided tours of a re­tired Boe­ing 747 and a cus­tom­fit­ted 707 air­craft are among the many high­lights here.

A 1959 Boe­ing 707, now on dis­play at the Qan­tas Founders Mu­seum

KRONOSAURUS

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