RIDING RIGHT ON INTO QUEENSLAND TO…. (in the words of a Ted Egan song)
Brolgas near Avon Downs © Pauleen Cass 2011
Just for once, today we’re going to head east from the Northern Territory, into Queensland (Qld). Our drive will take us 1000 klicks down the Stuart Highway where perhaps you overnighted at the Three Ways or the Barkly Homestead. Next morning you can take a left turn and head east across the long open stretch of savannah grasslands that is the Barkly Tableland.
If you like bird-watching, keep an eye out for billabongs and rivers…on our last trip we saw several brolgas who honked madly (strange sound) as they flew away. You’ll be very glad to see those Qld-NT border signs and the rather quaint little town of Camooweal with its old store and the local pub with its wide-verandahs, not to mention that boring old fuel stop and facilities break.
Refueled and revitalised you can now journey on the next stage into the outback towns of Queensland but maybe you’ll want another overnighter: Mt Isa (mining) or Cloncurry? I’m always intrigued to see the similarity between some of the rock formations near Cloncurry and those around Alice Springs. I wonder what ancient geographical event produced those similarities between places so distant from each other?
Taken just south of Cloncurry, Qld this is so evocative of central Oz and the Kimberley. From a distance it can look like a pointillist painting.
Which all begs the question, where are we going and why? Why Longreach of course!
And what’s the big deal about Longreach?
L is for LONGREACH
Longreach has several claims to fame. As a family historian it’s important to me because my Irish McSherry family lived there for a number of years and I’ve recently learned my great-grandfather was instrumental (ha ha) in establishing the Longreach Brass Band, not to mention the Hibernian Society.
Mr Cassmob has a fascination with flying boats since he flew on Catalinas ex Samarai in the 1960s.
Of course none of you could remotely care about that, but there are plenty of reasons for the tourist to stop for a day or two in Longreach. It’s the place where Australia’s iconic national airline, QANTAS (Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service) was established. There’s now a wonderful museum/centre there which if you’re an aviation fiend, you will find riveting. Judging on the queues, the possibility of touring through the on-ground Boeing 747 and 707 is a major attraction for the non-aviation-nuts.
The other massively important place to visit is the Stockman’s Hall of Fame. If you’ve ever been intrigued by the outback and its legends, or want to learn more about the people who helped develop the outback, this is the place for you. When we first visited nearly 20 years ago we’d been listening to tapes (yes, I know!) of Ted Egan, the Territory’s balladeer as well as former Administrator (think Governor). It was sort of weird to recognise the stories of all these famous stockmen, and women, and then to hear his songs in some of the theatres. One of his great stories is about famous stockman and cattle thief, Harry Redmond aka Captain Starlight. It’s a great yarn which you can read a bit more about here if you’re so inclined.
The Stockman’s Hall of Fame in Longreach, Qld
And while you’re in Longreach, why not have a look at the old railway station – you might even see Peter McSherry’s ghost.
Why visit: to get a real sense of the Australian outback as you travel vast distances and then to learn how those distances were overcome by the early settlers and aviators.
FYI: There are a couple of maps on my A to Z planning post which will help you to pinpoint where today’s tourist spots are situated, except in this case where I changed my mind about the post. Longreach is very roughly where a line drawn down from the word “Queensland” and across from “Northern Territory” would meet.
Lip : no, not those kissing things on your mouth! Rather someone who gives a lot of cheek or is impertinent. Eg Don’t give me any lip young man (to a small boy)
Long drink of water: again, not what you’d think….this means a tall, skinny person. He was a long drink of water.
Lucky legs: someone with legs so skinny they look like they’ll break off in which case they’re lucky….(have I mentioned how rude Aussie vernacular is?)
Long paddock: the long stretches of grasses outside the fences of properties or cattle stations, public property, used to feed cattle when on the move but especially in times of drought and a way of keep the animals alive.
Long grassers: rather a Northern Territory special this one. Long grassers are homeless people who live in the bush or parks around the place. The consistently warm weather here means they don’t need to huddle in doorways as they do in colder climates, except perhaps when it’s pouring with rain. It’s also important to know that Australia has public benefits ($, housing, health) which make it (comparatively) unnecessary for people to live this way but as with other places you will find surprising people living rough…”there but for the grace of God”.
Laid back: supposed to be the definition of an Aussie, along with their speech which is laconic. Actually Aussies are nowhere near as laid back and lackadaisical as their reputation suggests -surely all those British employers of Aussie backpackers can’t be wrong <smile>
Larrikin: Someone who’s often up to mild mischief, fun and cheeky.
Lead foot: Plenty of these in the Northern Territory where we used to have an open speed limit on the distance roads. Even now our speed limit there is 130kph compared with the max elsewhere of 110.
Lair: Someone who dresses to get attention, a “flash Harry”,
Lousy: nothing to do with bugs, this is someone who is mean with money or goods. “He wouldn’t give you 20 cents he’s so lousy”.
Leak: to urinate (men), regularly heard among the blokes at the bar.
Limp fish: weak ….he’s got a handshake like a limp fish.
I wonder where the letter M will take us on Monday?