Longreach

If you have ever dreamt of visiting Australia's heartland, there are few places in Australia that can offer everything you are looking for like Longreach. The birthplace of Australia's airline, Qantas, it is the biggest town in Queensland's far west and has much to offer the visitor or traveller seeking a taste of outback Australia, without straying too far from the creature comforts associated with home.

Where is it?: Queensland: Outback. Longreach is 689 by rail west of Rockhampton, on the Thomson River. By road, Lomgreach is 1,177 km from Brisbane via Warrego Highway and Landsborough. Longreach is approximately 700 km from the coast, west of Rockhampton. The town lies on the Tropic of Capricorn.

Events: July: Australian Stockmans Hall of Fame Horse Expo

Things to see and do

Taking a sunset river cruise on the Thomsor River complete with either a three-course dinner or camp oven dinner, or ride aboard a Cobb and Co. Stage Coach.

Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame

Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame is a tribute to Australia's Outback heroes includes a variety of traditional artefacts, electronic displays, photographs, films and stories of bush life.

School of Distance Education

School of Distance Education is one of the largest classrooms in the world. Tours of the centre include a walk through the school with an explanation of the process of the delivery, as well as observing a lesson.

Qantas Founders Museum

Qantas Founders Museum commemorates the founders of this great Australian company that grew to become internationally recognised as a leader in world aviation. Join a tour of the de-commissioned 747 'City of Bunbury'. Also on display are a fully restored Boeing 707, VH-XBA, the very first passenger jet owned by Qantas and registered in Australia and 1948 Qantas Empire Airways DC-3 aircraft, VH-EAP.

Stagecoach Ride

Gallop along an outback dirt track in a fully-laden Cobb and Co Stage Coach on the multi-award-winning Kinnon & Co. Experience at longreach. Retrace the steps of Cobb & Co. by travelling on the original mail route between Longreach and Windorah enjoying the unique history of Cobb & Co and Longreach. Ph (07) 4658 1776.

Longreach Powerhouse Museum

Longreach Powerhouse Museum is one of Longreach's best kept secrets. Unearth the local history with exhibits that include the powerhouse generating equipment, displays of social and commercial history, agricultural and road building machinery and the 1921 swimming baths.


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Combo Waterhole

In 1895, A.B. (Banjo) Paterson composed the famoys song Waltzing Matila at Combo Waterhole, a few kilometres from Winton (177 km north west). The The Waltzing Matilda Centre and the Jolly Swagman statue salute the event. Qantas was founded at Winton in 1920, but moved to Longreach, becvause it was more centrally located, before vthe first service was begun.

How to get there

Up until not too long ago, the only way to get to Longreach from Brisbane was via a 13 hour journey by road along the Warrego Highway. These days you can travel by rail in air conditioned comfort aboard the Spirit Of The Outback via Bundaberg, Rockhampton and Gladstone. From the comfort of a sleeper or seat, passengers can take in the ever-changing landscape as the train moves from the coast into the heart of the Outback with its rugged mountains, wide-open plains and historic towns. The train makes the 24-hour journey twice a week in both directions. A motorail service allows passenger to bring a car with them.

Below: Spirit Of The Outback

Being the birthplace of Australia's national airline, Qantas, it is not surprising that Longreach is one of Australia's outback destinations still serviced by Qantas. Longreach is linked by air to Brisbane, with aircraft arriving and departing daily. Greyhound Australia coaches arrive from Brisbane at 11am daily and from Mt Isa at 4pm daily.

History

Prior to 1860, the land around what is now the Shire of Longreach was peopled by the Iningai, Malintji and Kunngkari. In 1860, William Landsborough and Nat Buchanan, searching for new grazing land, came upon this area and saw in it a potential not appreciated by former explorers.

In 1863 a pastoral lease was granted to the partnership of the Scottish Australia Company, William Landsborough, Nat Buchanan and Edward Cornish. This lease, named 'Bowen Downs', covered an area of approximately 2000 square miles and was eventually stocked with about 350,000 sheep and 35,000 cattle. In 1886 the railways were surveying for the rail line west of Rockhampton and found the present site of Longreach to be suitable for the terminus of the rail line.

In November 1887, the township of Longreach was gazetted. The name 'Longreach' had been used prior to the establishment of the town by an outstation of 'Mt. Cornish', which was located in the vicinity of the present day 'Nogo'. This outstation, like the town, may have derived its' name from the 'long reach' of the Thomson River. In December 1887, the first sale of Longreach town allotments was held at Barcaldine. The first sale was to the Queensland National Bank for 107 pounds. A block of land opposite was purchased by Mr J. M. Savage for 103 pounds, this site is presently occupied by the Video 2000 franchise.

Following the completion of the rail link in 1892, the growth of Longreach accelerated, soon boasting a post office, court house, police station and lockup, a state school, churches, businesses and residences.

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