May 28 to 30 The last stop on the road to Longreach was at Barcaldine which is famous as the site of the ‘Tree Of Knowledge’ and the home of the birthplace of the Australian Labor Party.
The local birdlife is amazing with hundreds of white corellas roosting right in the centre of town and large brolgas wandering through the caravan site.
Longreach is famous as being the site of the Qantas Founders Museum. Qantas (Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service) was founded in nearby Winton on 10th February 1921 but was soon moved to Longreach. The original hangar is part of the museum today. Qantas was the only International airline that also manufactured its own aeroplanes (at Longreach).
We were slightly disappointed to hear on the radio as we approached Longreach that one of the museum’s major exhibits, a Boeing Jumbo Jet, was closed to the public due to it sinking into the mud. However, this did not spoil the enjoyment of the museum as we still got a good close up of the huge machine. The highlight was a tour of the first Boeing 707 that Qantas bought which was the first jet aeroplane to go into service worldwide. The plane was found at Southend airport in the UK and was sold to the museum for one pound. John Travolta owns and pilots the thirteenth Boeing 707 that was also the last purchased originally by Qantas.
Take a look at the Flying Doctor photo above : note the comment ‘Without radios to use to call for assistance, pilots were sometimes forced to find their own methods of navigation. If he was unsure of his location, Eric (the pilot) would turn off his engine and fly low over locals to call out for directions …’.