Brisbane, QLD

Saturday, August 25, 2018


After visiting the Qantas Founders Museum we were taken for a sunset cruise on the Thomson River. The river flows by Longreach, a small town in Western Queensland. Even though it is a very dry part of the country the river always has water flowing from the wetter northern parts of Queensland.

We were going to have a BBQ dinner at an open air campsite on the banks of the river. So we rugged up well because it gets very cold at night. It was a relaxing cruise down the river and we had a commentary  telling us about the wildlife and birds in the area.

Before we went on the cruise we had lunch at another lovely old homestead called Rosebank. It was owned by the tour company's owner, Alan Smith. In its heyday it was owned by a grazier who entertained locals and dignitaries including royalty.
 Alan's wife made lunch for all of us in the ballroom. Alan told us the history of the place.

After a short rest in our motel we were off again to the Thomson River.

 Dinner at Smithy's campsite on the river with country music entertainment.
 It was a nice evening but a bit cold. There were fires to keep us warm but "smoke got in our eyes."

The next morning we were off to Winton to see the dinosaurs, Bill tells me they are dead. It was a two hour drive to Winton.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


During our six day tour of outback Queensland, we visited the Qantas Founders Museum at Longreach. Now you may be wondering why a Qantas museum is way out in Western Queensland. Well Qantas, our national airline, was started by two friends, Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinness, who were veterans of the First World War and members of the Australian Flying Corp. After the war in 1919 they wanted to compete in the England to Australia air race but they couldn't raise the money after the millionaire grazier who was going to finance them died. However, they accepted an assignment to survey the air race route from Longreach in QLD to Katherine in NT. It took them 51 days to travel the 2179k over the harsh outback country where cars had never been before. It was during this trip that the young men realised how beneficial it would be for mail, goods and passengers to travel by air in these sparsely populated and roadless areas.

So Fysh and McGinness sought financial backing for an air service. Graziers were sympathetic knowing how hard it was to travel in the outback with no roads, no bridges and thick cloying mud when it rained.

In 1920 Fergus McMaster, a wealthy grazier, invested in them. With their former flight sergeant, Arthur Baird, as their mechanic they bought a plane and started the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services, which was quickly abbreviated to QANTAS. At first their office was in Winton but moved to Longreach, which was more central to the route from Charleville to Cloncurry. They built a hangar and their own planes.

The Qantas Founders Museum is a wonderful example of a community getting together to honour the achievements of a group of remarkable people who established the iconic airline Qantas in Outback Queensland. It is a not for profit organisation and mostly run by volunteers. It gets funding from the Government and Qantas but it is not owned by Qantas.
 There are three areas in the museum. The outside where old historic planes are on display and where you can go on a guided tour through the planes. Then there is the main building with interactive displays and other historic artefacts and there is also the heritage listed original hanger.
 The tour is very informative. This 747 had flown for 92,125 hours, carried 5.4 million passengers and flown 82.54 million kms. It was donated to The Founders Museum by QANTAS. However, there was a problem landing it in the tiny country town of Longreach. The airstrip is only for small airplanes. Volunteers cleared trees to make way for the wings and extended the runway as much as possible. But it was still a risky business to get the jumbo to land. The Museum people didn't think they would get anyone to volunteer to fly the 747 to Longreach. However, they put an add in the paper and they had many, many offers to do the job. In the end they had to have a ballot. There is a video clip on You Tube showing the landing. 

 The plane on the left is a 707. It was the first jet ever bought by Qantas. A group of volunteer engineers    hunted for this plane to put into the museum. It had been sold by Qantas when it got too old for their fleet. They finally found it in an airplane graveyard in the UK. It was in a bad way but these volunteers flew to the UK and  managed to find parts or make parts.  After many months they had rebuilt the plane and got it flying again and they flew it back from the UK to Longreach.

The plane in the background is a constellation. It was brought here in pieces on trucks and then put back together again. The Museum board are about to start construction of a 7 million dollar roof to cover all their planes to protect them from the scorching, outback sun.

 A DC3 which used to be an American airforce plane and then bought by Qantas. It also spent time in Papua New Guinea.

 The Catalina flying boat used to fly from Australia to UK landing in Ceylon on the way.

The original hanger is nearly 100 years old. It houses many of the very first planes Qantas flew.

Then we went into the main building where there was much to see and do.

Monday, August 20, 2018


After our tour of the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame we had a short rest and then we were off to Camden Park Station (ranch). The station has been in the Walker family for generations. Two sons and their families have taken over running the station now and they have made a big effort to keep the place viable during the seven year drought by diversifying. Whereas, the station was running cattle and sheep for wool, it now does something different.
 The homestead, which was where many social functions were held during the good times. Royalty has also stayed.
photo borrowed from the www
Now one of the paddocks is the home of 55,000 solar panels. Although the panels have to be washed it is still less work than looking after cows and just as profitable.

 The boys have swapped wool sheep for meat sheep. The restaurants in the big cities are demanding more lamb for their patrons. These sheep from South Africa can tolerate the hot dry weather and less labour intensive than sheep that need shearing.

 Tourism is also another form of income for the drought stricken farms. We were taken on a tour of the 100 year old shearing shed and told all about how it used to work.

 It was like a museum of past days of sheep farming. When it rains and feed grows they will start again.

In the shed there was a new born goat who had fallen asleep but awoke with a fright when we arrived. Our guides caught it and returned it to its mother who had also run away in fright with a second kid.

 Mother nanny goat was way up in the top of the paddock.(Out of sight)

 We were driven up to the top of the hill???? what hill?? It was called Two Tree Hill. Mother goat was found and we were given wine and snacks while we watched the amazing sunset.

Saturday, August 18, 2018


A few weeks ago we went on a tour of Longreach and Winton in the outback of Queensland. After checking out the little township the next day we went by coach to visit  Strathmore Station (ranch) where we had morning tea and then we went to the 'Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame" where we had lunch.
There has been a drought in Western Queensland for seven years. The country is looking bleak. There is no food for the cattle and sheep. Farmers have had to destock and diversify. They are doing it tough, no money coming in but still bills to pay. Farmers are the salt of the earth. They are getting some help from the government, volunteers and donations from city people.

 At Strathmore Station we were given a talk and tour from Maree the owner. She explained how they have had to let all their employees go and she and her husband are doing all the work themselves except in school holidays when their children come home from boarding school and university and help with the big jobs.
 This type of pastureland is called self mulching because when the rain finally comes it washes all the seeds and vegetation into the cracks and then they close up. With the next lot of rain the seeds grow but that is not happening now.

 So some farmers are trying to earn extra by encouraging tourism. After our tour and talk we were given a delicious home cooked morning tea in the beautiful homestead.

 The grain silos could be empty unless they have bought in extra feed for the cattle.

 The cattle yards are empty at the moment. Strathmore is famous for its Santa Gertrudis breed. Some farmers have other stations in southern states where there is more rain and they transport their stock there. 
 After morning tea we were taken to the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame where we took in a show and had lunch. This stockman told us the history of the stockmen and what their jobs entailed. He was a comedian too and did a lot of tricks with his well trained horse.
 He demonstrated how the working dogs rounded up the sheep.

 Then we went into the main museum building.

 It is big and beautiful inside, with loads of interesting out back history to learn about including the stories of famous stockmen and pioneers.

 Inside a pioneer hut.

We stopped in the cafe for coffee where there was this statue of a shearer. Then it was back to the motel for a brief rest before we were taken to another station for wine and nibbles while watching the sunset.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018


On my bucket list for a long time was Winton and the Dinosaurs. Finally, we made the trip. We were supposed to travel with friends, Kathy and Rob but Kathy got a chest infection  just before we were to leave so she had to stay home. However, Rob did come with us.
 Winton is 1357k way out in Western Queensland. We caught a little regional plane to Longreach stopping at Blackall on the way.
After more than 3 hours, we finally spotted the town of Longreach where we were joining an 'Aussie Outback Tour', which would take us on a 6 day coach tour of the outback including Winton and the dinosaurs. (Bill kept reminding me that the dinosaurs were no longer alive.' Western Queensland has been in drought for seven years. We saw first hand how the cattle and sheep farmers are suffering and how they are diversifying.

 After we settled in our motel in Longreach, Rob and I walked into town while Bill had a rest and tested the internet access.

The walk was very pleasant through a 2.5k linear botanic garden showcasing plants that can tolerate a dry, hot climate.

Soon we arrived in the main street of Longreach, it was a typical country town.

Rob is checking out the old farm vehicle together with a bull on board. It was parked outside the Cob and Co. museum.

 We passed the Information Centre, which used to be QANTAS headquarters in 1921. Our national airline QANTAS was started in Winton in 1920 but the HQ moved to Longreach in 1921. The airline was started by two war pilots, Fysh and MacGinness, who felt that airplanes were the way for people in the outback to travel and receive mail and goods. So they started Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Services. It will be 100 years old in 2020.
 A typical country Post Office

I found myself a new man, a stockman (cowboy).

 We had a cool drink and then started our walk back to the motel for a 'meet and greet' dinner.

Everywhere was dusty and dry. The temperatures were mild in the day and cold at night.
(to be continued)

Monday, August 6, 2018


It is two months since my birthday but our calendar was so full that we couldn't find a day when we were all free to celebrate. So on the last day of July instead of at the end of June we finally all got together at Club Southside to have lunch together. Birthday Bear was there to greet me when I arrived dressed ready for Zumba. Someone found out that I have started Zumba lessons at the village. So now Bear can come with me and have fun getting fit.

 Mary did such a great job at dressing Bear in a Zumba outfit plus a list of all the benefits, book of instructions, CD and boom box, dumbbells, drink bottle and sweat towel.