May 31 Winton has the claim to fame that it is the home of the famous Aussie ditty, Waltzing Matilda. Indeed, we dined at the local hotel in the room where it was first played in or around 1895. There is a museum in Winton dedicated solely to the song and its history. Spot the camels we met on the road into Winton from Longreach.
May 28 to 30 The Lily Ponds is a billabong that appears once there has been enough rainfall and is just outside the town. Fortunately, this was the case on our visit.
The Australian Stockman’s Hall Of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre is a museum that celebrates the importance of the role of the stockmen in Australia’s history. Well worth a visit.
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 …’.
May 25 to 27 After staying at Woodford for 9 more days to attend to some (minor) dental issues, we finally hit the road. Heading due west first and then north our first main destination is Longreach, over 1,200 Kms north west from Brisbane. We stop at Miles, Mitchell and Blackall to break the journey into manageable days. At Mitchell, we meet a travelling Burmese moggy called Princess and an 80 year old bush poet who entertained us with his own poetry and some tunes played on a gum leaf and harmonica. Mitchell also nearly lost its only road bridge across the river in the recent February floods. See how far the water is now below the bridge in the photo.
At Blackall we overnight at a site that provides a camp-cooked dinner which includes the biggest damper we have seen. Spot the emus on the road and the horse in the camp site.
May 11 Back down to Woodford, an hour west of Brisbane for the annual Queensland Vets Golf Championships. The field of 250+ golfers includes over 30 from our old club at Pelican Waters. Home for the week is the Woodford Showground where 3 other couples also park – memories of the old westerns with the waggons in a circle – with Dick’s infamous ‘Pig’ in the middle. For the uninitiated, the Pig is a camp fire made from a 9 Kg gas bottle. Thanks to Dick and Marilyn, Peter and Kay and Jeff and Faye for a great time with fun had by all. On the road to Woodford from Bargara we saw the strangest thing – a motorised teapot !!
Congratulations to the prize winners from Pelican Waters – Matt and Maria Schlotterbach and Jim and Maureen Nixon. Well done.
May 1 to 11 The start of the next big adventure !!
Bargara, just north of Bundaberg, is the first stop to meet up with good friends, Alan and Ann Gray. We spend a few days fishing and crabbing with one good ‘muddie’ that provided a lovely lunch. We also entered the Bargara Vets annual Open Day with some minor success (a $50 hair voucher and some golf balls). The Coral Cove course was revisited to play the famous Par 6 hole.