A Few Days Away from the Ordinary….
If you are planning to travel Queensland’s outback, then make sure you include the Longreach region. You may know very little about outback Queensland other than Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, Qantas Museum and the Birdsville pub but you might be surprised by what we’ve discovered in Longreach.
This town, once ‘wool capital of the world’, has a whole lot of interesting things to do and is a real hub for outback travellers wanting a taste of iconic Australia and the traditional outback way of life. A family company that has breathed new life into the old place is the award-winning Outback Pioneers, and we’re pretty impressed with their outback ingenuity.
If you really want to get away from the city, pack your jeans and Akubra and head out there (by car – no 4WD necessary – or bus or plane via Brisbane). April-October is the season and is the best time to experience it all.
Who knew what our forebears went through before the days of planes and 4WDs? The Cobb & Co Stagecoach Experience gives you an authentic taste of how our outback pioneers used to get around this wide, brown land. The dust, the creaking springs, the pounding of the horses’ hooves and the windows open to the elements put you firmly in their boots.
Most of the 45-minute ride is pretty sedate – travel through town and along the original Windorah mail route, before heading bush – but then there’s the gallop! It’s not as bone-shaking as you might imagine but it is both exhilarating and exciting. Outback Pioneers is the only place in Australia you can gallop in a Cobb & Co stagecoach and experience this truly unique outback experience. The full Cobb & Co Stagecoach Experience also includes the hilarious Harry Redford Old Time Tent Show, morning tea, and classic bush movie.
2. Go on Station Safari
Those huge outback stations are what Australia was once known for around the world. They still exist of course, and you can spend a morning gasping at the audacity of the early settlers who tamed their huge expanses of bush – as well as at the resilience of those who still make a way of life so far removed from mobile towers and traffic jams.
The station safari, which is part of the Nogo Station Experience, takes you by a double-decker, open-top overlander safari bus across the plains to see the domestic, feral and wild animals that roam these parts. Have your camera ready to capture the camels, wild donkeys, cattle, sheep, kangaroos, emus and more.
Get another insight into traditional station life when you visit the historic shearing sheds to see an authentic sheep-shearing demonstration. Equally memorable is indulging in a scrumptious outback morning tea at an original Australian outback homestead.
(Tuesdays and Thursdays, April-October)
It’s not Sydney Harbour or the Murray but a sunset cruise on the Thomson River is every bit as Australian and is an unforgettable Longreach experience.
There are a couple of companies that do it but, if you want the original and an authentic outback experience, choose Outback Pioneers. Their Starlight’s Cruise Experience includes riverbank dinner around the campfire with stockman’s stew and a barefoot bush poet. It’s as outback is it gets.
Their 4-hour experience will have you awe-inspired by the beauty of outback nature one minute and laughing out loud the next. Entertainment is in these folks’ veins – just take a look at the reviews on TripAdvisor.
4. Eat Outback Style with a Stonegrill
Visitors to this part of Queensland will be thrilled by the outback hospitality and traditional homestead food served at the Stonegrill® on Eagle Street. You may notice that most streets running north to south are named after land birds and from east to west streets are named after water birds.
For anyone who’s complained about tiny portions at trendy restaurants (and that’s many guys we know), this one’s for you! At the Outback Pioneers Stonegrill® Experience, you’ll settle into a restored heritage building for what many say is the best steak they’ve ever had. The steak (or other meat and vegetarian options) is cooked at a stonegrill at your table and you can pile your plate with as much delicious salad, vegetables and sauces as you like.
Leave room for the tempting all-you-can-eat dessert bar of traditional homestead desserts and the lolly jars, which bring out the kid in all of us. It’s not foams and fancy stuff, but you’ll be really glad of that after a day’s adventure in the great Queensland outback.
(Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings, April-October. Book and BYO alcohol)
Discover a world of Australian outback treasures and take home a memory of Longreach from The Station Store. There was a time when shopping meant a few days journey to a pioneer store that sold just about everything imaginable. The Station Store is based on the traditional outback stores that sold everything pioneering families could possibly want.
Longreach Station Store is a present-day outback emporium stacked to the heritage ceilings with all sorts of fascinating merchandise and memorabilia. You can buy outback clothing, stock-whips, homewares, haberdashery, local crafts, books, leatherware, retro toys even collectible teddies… Allow yourself at least half an hour to fossick about in the rooms full of treasures or shop online for a small taste of the best outback products and gifts available.
(The Station Store, 126 Eagle Street, Longreach is open Monday-Friday, and Saturday mornings year-round except for a Christmas break.)
Australia’s Flying Kangaroo – Qantas Aviation History
A stay in Longreach without visiting the Qantas Founders Museum would be an incomplete one – since it has a long history with the Queensland region and Australian aviation. The outback museum is the custodian of a number of iconic Qantas aircrafts including the Super Constellation, City of Bunbury (Boeing 747) and City of Canberra (Boeing 707), the first Qantas owned jet aircraft. It is also where Australia’s aviation heritage is preserved for future generations to come.
Airpark Roof Project Longreach
A $14.3M development is underway at the Qantas Founders Museum with an expected completion date at the end of 2020. The Airpark Roof project will be built over the museum’s aeroplane enclosure to protect the museum’s significant aircrafts from the fierce Queensland sun. Incorporated into the build is the installation of a state-of-the-art light and sound show which will project images on to the Boeing 747, Boeing 707 and Super Constellation.
The 1940s Lockheed Super Constellation transformed global air travel and played an integral part in the pioneering of aviation history. “Connie” as it was affectionately known was retrieved from a Manilla aircraft graveyard and restored to its former glory by volunteers in outback Queensland. The Super Constellation, a high-speed transcontinental passenger aircraft gave birth to the famous Kangaroo Route between London and Sydney on 1 December 1947. Making Qantas the first ‘round-the-world’ airline.
The Super Constellation was also the first pressurised aircraft for Qantas, and it was the first aircraft to have a female cabin crew. This new addition to the Qantas Founders Museum will create an unique night experience for Longreach.