4 August: Enjoying our stable
Feeling a little touristed out and not wanting to get back into the car, we decided to forego the planned 4-hour return trip to Winton. This meant we missed checking out the Waltzing Mathilda Centre, the first museum dedicated to a song. We also didn’t get to see the dinosaur museum, home to the world’s largest collection of Australia’s largest dinosaur fossils. At least we still have something to see if we ever make our way back to the region.
We had an early morning run along the path running parallel to the main highway, called the Longreach Botanic Walkway. It is a 2.5 metre track going between the civic centre in town to the Stockman Hall of Fame. In addition to a large array of flora, there are memorial plaques to manly famous people including Banjo Patterson (Waltzing Mathilda) and Fred Hollowes. This run is possibly the strangest route we’ve ever recorded on strava – a straight line just like the roads.
After breakfast and a caffeine hit, we took a drive into the main street of Longreach. The Merino Bakery was an important stop for bread and the local IGA surprised us with its range of goodies and prices. That said, other than a small Foodworks, it’s the only supermarket nearby.
After lunch, we took a long, relaxing soak on the bubble terrace at our accommodation. From the bath, we could see the entrance to the Stockman Hall of Fame that we would be visiting the following day.
We wanted a photo of the sign and accompanying emus sculptures at the entrance to Longreach. Having decided that sunset would provide us with an interesting backdrop, we went there on the way to dinner. The wind had died down and we enjoyed our photo shoot as the sun went down across the plains.
Dinner at Harry’s Restaurant at the Longreach Motor Inn was a highlight of our stay. Whilst the dining space felt more like a function room than a high calibre restaurant, the food was certainly top notch. Walter had the signature dish – pork belly with extra crisp crackling. Glenda had the most tender piece of fillet ever – possibly even better than anything she had in Argentina! As we ate, we enjoyed a view of the local iconic water tower, the long road trains lit up as they drove passed and a very large kangaroo playing in the park opposite.
5 August: All about the drovers…
We had a 500m walk from our hotel to the Stockman Hall of Fame – along the botanical walk. On approach, we could see the long queue of like-minded people waiting to get in. We joined the line and were extremely glad we’d booked online the previously day as their quota was full – another victim of Covid. Sadly, the organisers hadn’t thought it through, and they had close to the full complement of 150 visitors all arriving at the same 9am time slot! They allocated us to the 1030am viewing of the new movie called The Outback Stockman’s Show – a well put together show of the history of country Australia and the life of the drover (a person, typically an experienced stockman, who moves livestock, usually sheep, cattle, and horses “on the hoof” over long distances). The risk taking and innovation that was so key in the formation of this country was almost confronting – it feels as though we may have lost some of this, in the cities at least.
The stroll around the five galleries in the museum was enlightening and we managed to fit this in before watching the movie:
The Discovery gallery follows the discovery, exploration and settlement of Australia by the various races, cultures, individuals and groups who now call this continent their home.
The Pioneers gallery houses large open displays to allow visitors a better look at Australia’s pioneering past. It examines the pastoral life of Australia prior to the introduction of power in the forms of electricity and the internal combustion engine.
The Outback Properties Gallery outlines the history of the epic struggle between people and the land.
The Royal Flying Doctor Gallery is devoted to the history of the RFDS and displays of radio and medical equipment from across the years. It also shows how the Flying Doctor works in the 21st century, providing comprehensive, quality health care to people living, working and travelling in rural and remote areas.
The Stockbrokers Gallery tell the story of Australian stock work not limited to a particular century or group of people. It is a story which spans many generations, cultures, and landscapes, and involves centuries of changes and developments.
Unfortunately, another casualty of Covid were the live shows at the museum.
Now it’s time to pack up again and get ready for our drive to Townsville where we’re looking forward to catching up with friends.