Longreach – it’s a long reach from the Brisbane or the Queensland coast or pretty much any other population of size in the country. But it’s also a regional hub and with a population of just under 3000, it boasts the usual menagerie of outback weirdness and touts a couple of things to make an extra night worthwhile.
I’ll start with the thoroughly impressive Qantas Founders Museum. Longreach was the launch place of the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service and the remarkable stories behind this global company come to life here. Touring a heritage listed hangar full of original bi-planes as well as a modern centre with plenty of interactive displays, you learnt of hardships overcome, the quirkiness of the aeronautical pioneers and the important role the service played in shaping the outback.
But by far the best thing was taking the jet tour (additional cost to the museum but well worth it). This ticket gave you a 90 minute guided tour around the outside holding yard where, amongst other planes, you have unprecedented access to the very first Boeing 707 passenger jet Qantas ever operated as well as the ‘plane for the masses’ the 747 Jumbo Jet. I’m not even a plane enthusiast and I found the tour completely captivating.
Ever wanted to stand in a decommissioned Rolls Royce jet engine? This is one of only 2 places in the world where you can.
Ever wanted to see the toilet Michael Jackson used when reaching cruising altitude or the gold plated seat belt buckles used when turbulence set in?
This plus much much more is showcased on the tour and we were pleased we devoted 4 hours to it.
The other renowned activity in Longreach is the Stockman’s Hall of Fame, literally just across the road from Qantas.
Based on all the advertising material and entry price, we were expecting big things. Unfortunately, we were sorely disappointed. For all the hoo-har about this museum, it really was just a very old fashioned read-info-on-the-walls type of place. Few of the displays were interactive, they said little about stockmen in particular and were the same type of thing you could find in any colonial or pioneering house up and down the country. There were a couple of movies and some saddles that you could touch. Most disappointingly, there was actually little about the important role that stock plays in Australia’s economy or psyche. Save for a guy showing us how he plaits whips, there was very little to impress us for our rather exorbitant entrance fee.
We spent most of our evening brainstorming how this museum could be easily made better, which goes to show that we already knew a lot about the stock men and women of Australia because of what we could mention as absent. A novel way of learning but not necessarily one I’d recommend for the price.