We went to Longreach with 2 specific things we wanted to see. It was hot, 39 deg and we looked around for some shade to park the caravan which we drove around with us and parked in the car parks and on the streets outside what we wanted to see. It makes it so much easier having nobody traveling in Qld at the moment. We found a convenient 747 plane wing here for shade.
The 2 things we came to see are both in this next photo:
The Qantas founders museum was about the founders rather than Qantas itself. It focused on the start of the airline by the 2 ex military men looking for more adventure. It looked at the opening up of the outback as a result of this airline. It was really interesting and we spent hours there. They had a number of old planes including an old 747-200 and a 707 we were able to go onto and look into the areas you normally never get close to. We were the only one on the tour once again.The 707 was Qantas’ very first jet and ended its days as a private plane for a Saudi Prince. It was dumped at the edge of an old airstrip in Southend England for 4 years growing mold, birds nests, and cobwebs. The museum heard about it and bought it for 1 pound but then it was a huge job to get the old plane in a condition to fly it back to Longreach. It was a huge team of retired engineers and pilots that loved the 707, and gave their time that made it possible. John Travolta has one of these planes and when he heard about what was going on he flew his plane to Florida to meet the plane on one of it’s legs home.
Steve and I fit perfectly in the engine. The 707 cockpit and lounge area with Waterford crystal lamp and bathroom. It doesn’t look so flash in the photos but it was pretty opulent for the time with gold taps in the bathrooms, beautiful woods and queen size bed.
An early Qantas De Haviland DH61 giant moth plane complete with the first toilet. A huge improvement from the days when pilots would land a plane in a field for their passengers to “spend a penny” which is where this term came from.
The outback hall of fame was about the outback and it’s different people and was also interesting historical look back.
We had a look around Longreach and did a bit of a nature walk through town where we saw a ice and filtered water vending machine and some nice old buildings.
We left Longreach and headed for Barcaldine. On the way we stopped in Ilfracombe famous for it’s ‘machinery mile’ which lines the main street the full length of town.
Barcaldine or Barky as it is know, has a famous tree. During the shearers strike of last century the men used to meet under the ‘tree of knowledge’ in front of the train station. This tree became famous as the birthplace of the Australian Labor Party. Someone poisoned the tree and the govt (10 yrs ago) took away the dead tree and preserved it and brought it back and made a wooden sculpture around it for 8 million dollars. It all sounds crazy but the result is amazing. From afar it looks like a box but once you are under it, it is quite amazing. At night it is even better. They even kept the roots and you are able to see the roots of the trees through a glass floor surrounding the tree.
Tree of knowledge Barcaldine. Each one of the bits of wood looks like leaves from below and they each move as the wind blows. We were quite impressed with this tree sculpture. We also had a look at a couple more museums and had a look around town. The Australian workers Heritage museum. The Australian workers museum had a section devoted to health workers in general and discoveries made by Australians which I had to check out. Here I found a picture of Steve’s Melbourne cousin. See below. She apparently had death threats against her at the time. These pills were a big business!
Masonic Hall made of iron and wood made to look like stone. A sign in QLD schools until 1962 which taught kids good manners. An old XXXX beer sign still in use but updated with a no smoking sign. Vaccination photo of women dressed up to take their babies out to get diptheria and whooping cough vaccinations.
The Barcaldine Caravan Park was also really scenic, we just missed the sunset, but had a nice view out the back of the horses on the edge of town.
In Blackall we visited the old wool scour museum. It is the last one if it’s kind in Australia and it still works. we were taken on a tour by an old wool classer who worked in the heyday of the wool industry and now retired. At the end of the tour we had a chat with him and heard the same old story of 7 years of drought in this area and how it was affecting the people of the area.