William Jolly Bridge, Brisbane, Queensland, Aus.

Showing posts with label Longreach and Winton 2018. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Longreach and Winton 2018. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


After watching a doco on dinosaur fossil finds in Winton, I have always wanted to visit the sites and museums there. So last month we did. After touring around the towns of Longreach and Winton we were finally on our way to the dinosaur laboratory. Unfortunately, I didn't feel 100%, (due to dehydration-not drinking enough water in the hot dry climate even though it was winter) so I didn't take many photos.
 The Age of Australian Dinosaurs Museum is a not for profit organisation and they get little help from governments so they divised a way to get labour. Many would be archaeologists love to go on a dig or help clean the fossils and put the massive jigsaw of bones together. So the Museum offered the public the opportunity to do this but they have to pay to be trained and then to work there. This way they get the work done without hiring labour and make money to keep the museum going. This volunteer is cleaning some bones found in a previous dig. When the bones are first found they are wrapped in foil and then plaster of paris to preserve them. Their place of find and date is written on the plaster. Then when volunteers come to the lab they open up the parcels and get to work.
 Then we were driven to another part of the museum located on top of a mesa (called a 'jump up' in Queensland). A Dinosaur Canyon and outdoor galleries have been created to replicate the 'Age of the Australian Dinosaurs'.
 As we walked through the canyon on a walkway we could see replicas of bones and dinosaurs.
 Many of the dinosaurs that lived in this area were small ones not much bigger than chickens. But bigger ones chased them and ate them.
 The replicas were so life like and I felt like I had been transported back 95 million years and was watching this spectacle.

 The bigger ones on the rampage.
 The museum people are planting prehistoric cycad plants in the canyon to make it even more realistic.

 Then we went inside a lovely building where the bones of some dinosaurs have been put together. Guides gave us an informative talk after which we went outside on the deck overlooking the amazing outback scenery and sunset while we were served dinner.

Sunday, September 9, 2018


Oh boy! I have been busy with U3A and my blogging has been neglected. I was writing about our trip to Longreach and Winton in far west Queensland. Our tour bus drove us from Longreach to Winton where our guides dropped us off near Arno's Wall and they told us to follow the wall and we would come to the hotel where we could walk through to the main street.  Arno migrated from Germany back in the 60's he was an opal cutter at Opalton but he is most famous for his art installation, his Wall. The wall is 2 metres high and 70 metres long. It is made of concrete and rocks that he brought into town from the opal mine. In the wall he has concreted in every kind of house hold items and more: lawn mowers, boat propellors, type writers, sewing machines and motor bikes.

 A very small part of Arno's Wall.

We came through the hotel to the main street in Winton. I have recently discovered that this hotel was the first one built in Winton back in the mid 1880's but obviously has been updated over the years. Of course we had to stop in the coffee shop on the next corner for 'you know who'. 

 While drinking our coffee I saw a sign pointing to the back of the shop saying 'Thru to the historic open air theatre'. It was just as it was in the old days, the projection room too. It was a fun museum.

 We continued down the street to a lovely little opal shop. I resisted buying any. Too expensive.

Bill with Banjo Paterson, a famous Australian poet, who wrote "Waltzing Matilda"
 (you may recall that our grandson has the same name)
 Then we had to meet the rest of our group and guides at the brand new 'Matilda Centre', which is a museum dedicated to our informal national song,  'Waltzing Matilda' including the times and lives of the local people. The Winton people are very proud that our famous song was written in the Winton District. Their museum was burnt down a few years ago and they have just opened this new one. It is a shame that they lost many of the artefacts.
 However, they have done a great job with the new one with what they have and supplemented with many digital displays.
We learnt about the history of the song, the writer, Banjo Paterson, the wool industry, transport and life style of the times. The next day we were off to see the dinosaurs....the reason I came on this trip.

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.