143. Longreach

By Dave: This sure is a big country and there are an awful lot of caravans travelling around it. We arrived at Longreach planning to stay in a free camp several km north of the town, however when we arrived the camp was chocker.

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Nancy decided that we couldn’t fit in there and so with our friends John and Leanne we decided on a commercial camp. John rang around and found one that didn’t sound too expensive so we went there instead.

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Being fully self-contained we elected to the cheapest sites, moved in and set up. Our ancient grey water hose broke while setting up so I spent most of the next day buying a new hose and trying to find suitable adapters to fit it. Longreach being a small town this proved impossible however, so in typical Aussie fashion we just dumped a great deal of water on the ground.

Nancy: camping here in Aust. is very different to NZ, where most caravans have large fresh and grey water tanks. Here it seems to be normal to have small fresh water tanks and to hook up to a tap at every camp site (ie with mains pressure) and simply discharge grey water via a hose to the  nearest tree or garden plot if there is one; very occasionally there are proper discharge points. We do have a portable grey water container which we use in “fully self-contained” camps but often see Aussie caravaners ignoring this basic rule.

Longreach is full of interesting old buildings. I was disappointed they have repainted the railway station white; in 1971 it was a beautiful blue (and there was no tarmac in front, just red earth).

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Dave: We had planned to visit the Quaintarse museum and the Stockmans Hall of Fame but after wasting so much time chasing round we decided to concentrate on the Hall of Fame. Several people recommended spending a little extra and seeing the show associated with it. Unfortunately we believed them and wasted an hour listening to some Country music and a bunch of lame jokes. There was a small part of the show that dealt with the skills Stockmen needed which was mildly interesting.

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Nancy: On arrival at the Hall of Fame there was a stockman type holding a very placid Brahman-type steer, most likely a hand-reared orphan, which of course most people stopped to admire and pat. Apparently the large hanging loose skin is actually a cooling mechanism, it increases the surface area which helps heat dissipation.

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Dave: Nancy had an appointment with a local historian after lunch so we left the Hall of Fame to talk to her and then returned afterwards.

Nancy: she gave me some wonderful maps of local stations, and in particular helped me find some of the stations mentioned in the many newspaper reports of ‘Drover Tim Darchy’, my Great great uncle. We visited his grave in the Cemetery.  Some graves had curious coverings rather like seed raising beds. Rosellas were everywhere.

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Nancy: I was also interested in the Stockman’s Hall of Fame exhibit of a drover’s camp.

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Also this wonderful painting called “the Drover’s Wagon” by Philip Silcox. We visited the street where Tim lived with his wife and daughter when not droving; part of it is now in  the town but I would imagine it was once out of town a little as he would have needed to keep quite a number of horses. IMG_0218

Dave: One of the staff was making stock-whips and I was surprised at the amount of work that went into each one.

The museum was quite interesting and some of the stories on the unsung heroes boards were amazing.

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Back at the camp we were entertained by two resident brolgas who paraded around, much to the delight of the photographers.

Nancy: When we first saw them the male was doing most of the dancing, offering nesting materials.  We were told that earlier they were stalking along peering in all the windows at the nearby motel, possibly looking for a nesting site. next day however they were much calmer – maybe he had had his wicked way.

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Dave: Next morning we made an early start or at least early for us, and headed to Winton where we parked for the night at the Long Waterhole Camp. Winton&cloncurry01Winton&cloncurry02Winton&cloncurry03

Dave: Along the way we stopped at the Age of Dinosaurs Museum for an interesting couple of hours.

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These fossilised mussels were only babies, the adults were over a metre long. Fantastic chowder they would have made!

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‘Mick’ was a dinosaur … that’s a cow vertebra on the right  for comparison

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Nancy: the  Museum included two escorted tours, the second being around the laboratory. A charming young man talked for ages and made it all look very interesting but it was a dead loss for me, so when we were leaving we suggested to the Museum that they investigate providing a captioned, signed interpretation of the talks on an iPad, and/or a downloadable version on the phone app ‘STQRY’. They were interested. We earned our Brownie points for the day!

The Museum is high on a ridge with wonderful views all around.

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IMG_0057Two other things noted were the colourful native flowers, and themed coffee.Winton01

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Dave: We had hoped to get to Winton in time to check out the Banjo Patterson Museum, but on arrival found that most of the Museum had burnt down earlier this year and the remainder had to shut for the day. Maybe tomorrow.

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