LONGREACH TO CLONCURRYJune 18, 2018 in Australia ⋅ 🌙 12 °C
LONGREACH TO CLONCURRY 8/6/18 to 15/6/18
Our first day in Longreach we visited the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame where we spent several hours looking around at the displays of the history of the outback pioneers and explorers and aboriginal workers who all shaped our country. There was so much information about the ordinary people who did extraordinary things in years gone by. One story really caught my attention. It was about a chap who was a shearer who married and went on to have 12 sons and 8 daughters. (Yes, 20 children!!) All his sons were shearers as well and one daughter was a qualified wool classer. His wife was the cook for the shearing sheds so she was a pretty busy lady!!! Unfortunately nobody ever thought to get the whole family to shear at the same shed at the same time or they would surely have set a world record that would never have been broken. There was also one area with information and history of the Flying Doctors.
The next day we again drove in to Longreach and went to the Qantas Founders Outback Museum which can’t be missed as the great red tail of the decommissioned 747 jet can be seen from kilometres away. Right next to it and dwarfed by it is the restored Boeing 707. Once again we immersed ourselves in history, reading and watching videos about our national airline formed in Longreach and Winton. We had a guided tour through the original hangar where more historic planes and equipment were displayed. Late in the afternoon we boarded a bus outside the railway station to be taken for a sunset cruise on the Thomson river and dinner and show in an outdoor café called Smithy’s. The cruise was magic! The Thomson River is the water supply for Longreach and although the water looks muddy, after filtration it is fine. (According to our skipper, there is no “P” in Thomson!) There is a weir above and below the huge billabong which we were sailing on and the water was glass-like so reflections were stunning. The skipper pointed out the huge nests of whistling kites in the top of coolibah trees lining the banks and also gave information about the other vegetation and animals. We even saw several trees where aboriginal people had carved shields from the trunks leaving large permanent scars. We stopped to see some river turtles which have obviously become used to being fed by the owners of the boats. We then went ashore and enjoyed our outdoor camp-oven dinner and were entertained by a singer who played songs from our era. The weather has been very warm with clear sunny skies and even the nights have been quite mild. The following day we drove in to have a look around the centre of Longreach noting the old pubs which are a feature of all these outback towns. Being a Sunday you could have shot a gun down the wide main street and not hit a thing.
The next day we set off along the Matilda Hwy for Winton, travelling through very flat dry countryside with yellow Mitchell grass and few trees and only the occasional sheep or cattle to be seen. As we approached Winton we noticed a range of mesas in the distance and 12 km out we turned off towards the Age of Dinosaurs exhibition. The road led up to the top of a mesa or “jump-up” as the locals call it where the centre is located. The views were impressive and we went on a tour of the dinosaur canyon which was formed when huge boulders which formed part of the crust had fallen down due to erosion over thousands of years leaving spectacular scenery. Our guide gave information about the types of dinosaurs that have been discovered in the area. We then continued our journey to Winton and set up camp in a van park in the main street. Winton boasts three historic pubs but only two of them are open at the moment. The North Gregory Hotel is reputed to be the site of the first public performance of Waltzing Matilda and the Tattersalls Hotel is a very popular spot as well.
The following day we drove out 110 km along a partly sealed road through flat spinifex and scrubland to a site called Lark Quarry Conservation Park where hundreds of fossilized footprints of a stampede of dinosaurs occurred 95 million years ago. We watched a short video explaining the three types of dinosaurs which left the impressions in the mud. One was a large carnivorous dinosaur which was chasing all the smaller ones. We then got a close-up view of the footprints from the walkway. The site is now inside a building to preserve it and is situated on a jump-up or mesa with great views of the countryside. The weather was over 30C. After driving back to Winton we decided to eat at the North Gregory Hotel for dinner which was great tucker.
Then our luck ran out with the great weather we’d been having. It rained all day the next day and through the night but I was able to visit the Waltzing Matilda Centre which tells the story of the iconic song and A B Patterson as well as the history of Winton in hi-tech digital displays. The centre was totally destroyed by fire in 2015 and the brand new centre has only been open for a few months. We had planned to attend the historic outdoor cinema that evening but unfortunately the weather caused its cancellation.
The next morning we headed north in the rain along the Landsborough Hwy through very flat Mitchell grass plains to Kynuna where the Blue Heeler Hotel is about the only building in town. The rain began to ease as we continued to McKinlay where we camped for the night at the back of the Walkabout Creek Hotel made famous in the first Crocodile Dundee film. There were also a few houses, a police station, a library and a fuel outlet. I think without the pub, the town would probably be non-existent. We enjoyed an evening meal in the pub which is adorned with plenty of Crocodile Dundee memorabilia.
We continued up the highway under blue skies again through flat grassland with very red earth and thousands of small termite nests until we reached Cloncurry. On the way we were unlucky to hit a black kite (like an eagle) which was feeding on roadkill and was very slow to take off, then turned and flew right in front of us. No damage to us as it glanced up the bonnet and windscreen but I doubt it would have survived. The countryside near Cloncurry became a bit hilly with a mountain range in the distance.Read more