When the first signs of autumn arrive, it’s a great time to head west and feel part of another time and place in Longreach.
There are good roads all the way but the journey and increasing distance from heavily populated areas makes you appreciate what the early pioneers achieved getting to the outback locations where they made a life.
You can delve deeper into that story in Longreach and live some of the experiences that defined the early days of living remotely. There are good caravan parks and all the services you need in town.
Step aboard the Cobb & Co stagecoach with its team of five majestic horses and you’ll instantly be living the way you would have arrived 100 years or more ago. With an amazing ride on the old Longreach-Windorah mail route through the bush, you’ll hear the thud of hooves and jangles of the harnesses, smell the bush, taste the dust of the track and feel exhilarated with the gallop to ‘outrun the storm’.
You may see some of the local fauna on your drive to Longreach, but for a real appreciation of the domestic and feral animals that are integral to outback life, join the Nogo Station Experience. You’ll meet Merinos in the historic wool sheds and ride a double-decker, open-top bus across the sunlit plains on the ‘water run’ where you’ll see cattle, camels, donkeys, pigs, goats and probably some kangaroos and emus too.
You’ll hear the real story of what living on the land is like and how it’s changed across the decades.
The Qantas Founders Museum helps you appreciate just what a difference the early planes made to these remote regions and how our national carrier went from a couple of aviators with a dream to become a vital part of 20th century Australia. The collection of iconic planes is inspiring and the Luminescent Longreach evening show has been drawing praise since it was introduced in 2020.
You can unhitch the van and let someone else do the driving as you head deeper into the outback with a day tour from Longreach to Winton on a Saturday. There’s plenty to fill the day with the award-winning Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum, the Waltzing Matilda Centre and lunch at the North Gregory Hotel where Banjo Paterson first performed his famous song.
The outback sunsets are famous and there’s no better way to appreciate them than with a leisurely sunset cruise on the Thomson River with the lap-lap sound of the paddlewheels breaking the water. The Outback Pioneers Starlight’s Cruise Experience also includes a stockman’s campfire dinner under the stars, entertainment and a Sound & Light Picture Show.
Keep your eye open for the Pride of the Murray paddlewheeler on the riverbank where she is being restored as a signature attraction to tell the story of pioneer riverboats. She was originally bought by Richard Kinnon for the Outback Pioneers cruise but mysteriously sank at her mooring in March 2023 putting an end to cruising plans. Some of the Starlight’s Cruise Experience departures in 2024 will feature an opportunity to watch the sunset from her deck.
When you meet the Kinnon family and experience how they have brought Longreach stories to life, you may well be moved to make a donation to the Pride of the Murray Restoration Fund. You can read more about the boat and how you can help on their fundraising website.
The Outback Pioneers experiences run April-October and that is the best time to visit when the winter days are warm and perfect for sightseeing. The Qantas Founders Museum and the famous Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame are open year round. The outback pioneering life awaits!