When we set off on our trip around Australia one of the things that I was most looking forward to was discovering some real outback towns – full of red dust, road trains and ridgie-didge Aussie personalities.
Longreach did not disappoint – and what we planned as a couple of nights turned into a week long stay (even then we didn’t get to see and do everything on offer!)
Located 700kms inland from Rockhampton on the Matilda Highway – it sits on the Thomson River and has a history as colourful as the sunsets that take over the desert sky each evening.
It isn’t just the stories of life on the land that Longreach offers that makes it such an unforgettable place – it is how you are swept into the landscape and stories of the region in such unique ways that makes such an impact. We were often asked to take ourselves back to the time of former residents, picture the scene in days gone by and walk in the footsteps of the pioneers.
We got to sit in an early 20th century classroom, explore a cottage showing how families lived in 1935 in the west, fly fighter planes, climb on hundred year old tractors and wartime tanks, swim in a hot pool, and be invited back to last century and the finest form of travel – a Cobb and Co Stagecoach experience.
We were transported back to the 1960s into a typical work day of an attendant in the powerhouse generating electricity for the town – smelling the methane and coal tar, feeling the intense heat, hearing the crackle and hiss of the coal burning and the rattle and clang of the Redler conveyors.We experienced an old time movie in deckchairs with popcorn, saw a traditional tent show, met cows, horses and working dogs, and had a bath under the stars!
From the moment we arrived we were immersed into the character of the town – and there is absolutely no better way for kids to enjoy (and to learn) about a place than to jump right into it’s history. There is no admiring the past through the glass of a display cabinet or in a dusty museum – all the attractions here are exciting and alive with the history and tales of the region and it’s people.
Here were our favourite things –
The Qantas Founders Museum
We had such a great time here (click the link for our full review of this family friendly attraction in Longreach) that we stayed for hours and would definitely visit again.
The award winning museum tells the story of Qantas and it’s people and the strong connections the flying giant has with outback Queensland. Museum entry includes access to the main exhibition hall, Catalina Flying Boat and National Heritage Listed Qantas Hangar containing the replicas of DH-50 and DH-61 aircraft. You can upgrade to include access to the 707 and the 747, take a flight simulator or experience a wing walk – check out their website for more details on their family friendly Longreach tours.
The Outback Pioneers offer a multitude of ways for kids and adults to escape city life and immerse themselves in a real outback experience.
We did the Cobb and Co Stagecoach experience (the only place in Australia that you can ride in a horse drawn stagecoach) and it was fantastic! You can also visit the Nogo Station experience where you can see sheep shearing and meet the homestead animals, see and old time tent show, enjoy a cruise on the Thomson River and enjoy a stockman’s campfire dinner!
For a family holiday in Longreach – they’ve got something for everyone!
The Powerhouse Museum
This is a gem of a museum full of treasures of times gone by and staffed by really lovely and helpful volunteers.
It houses the largest preserved rural generating facility in Australia and you can walk amongst the machines and get a feel for what it would have been like to work there 50 years ago.
There are steam engines, machinery and trucks to admire in this part of the exhibit and the kids loved it!
There is also a Nogo pioneers cottage that you can explore – letting you experience life as an early settler family would once have done, plus lots of social history displays of times gone by.
My favourite was the classroom with the ‘Rules of Good Manners based on the Children’s National Guild of Courtesy – which offered such advice as ‘Do not make slides on the pavement, nor throw orange or banana skins there – dangerous accidents have occurred this way’.
Do not miss this gem of a town located about half an hour drive outside Longreach. As you enter the town you can’t miss the ‘machinery mile’ – running parallel to the main road there are hundreds of old cars, tractors, tanks, farm and industrial machinery all inviting exploration and imagination!
We spent hours wandering through the displays and exhibits housed along the way and the kids had a ball.
After getting dusty playing with machines all morning what better way to freshen up than in a natural Artesian spa pool! It costs just $2.60 to get in and be rejuvenated by the therapeutic mineral waters – we dare you to jump into the big non heated pool before getting in to the warm spa (especially in the Winter months!)
The Post Office is also worth a visit – out the back they have a great little library with toys and books for the little ones to enjoy.
Longreach School of the Air Tours
’Imagine a classroom more than twice the size of Victoria, where the playground is as vast as the outback and the partnership between home and school is legendary’
On weekdays you can take the kids to the biggest classroom in the world and see how kids in isolated areas get top class education.
Everything you need
As well as award winning attractions – Longreach also offers great local services – we spent lots of time at the playpark next to the water tower (Edkins Park on the Landsborough Highway across from the railway station) where you can also spot 2 beautiful trees planted by the Queen and Prince Philip – plus an amazing chainsaw sculpture out of an old tree stump on the steps to the council buildings.
There is a great selection of shops in the high street including a supermarket, chemist, discount store and Target so you can stock up on all your supplies.
Everything in town is easily accessible too – we went on quite a few bike rides – there is a great walking/bike path to enjoy.
Where we stayed
Last year we took part in a charity auction organised by Red Faces who raise money for mental health in South Australia- we were the highest bidder on an Outback Qld accommodation package and got loads of incredible vouchers. Our first 2 nights were at The Kinnon and Co Outback Accommodation (where we got to have an incredible outdoor bath under the stars!) where the self catering rooms are inspired by original outback stations -where the stable boys slept alongside the horses. I’m thinking they didn’t enjoy as much luxury as we did though!
Unfortunately for our furry travel companion Bobby – the accommodation is not dog friendly so we had to find kennels for a couple of nights for her – she was very pleased when we checked out, picked her up and moved on to our next stay – the beautiful Pat’s Place – a family friendly and pet friendly house in Longreach – located perfectly just a few minutes from the town centre.
The house is rustic, warm, worn and has everything you need to feel right at home. There are 3 bedrooms (it can sleep up to 7 people), has a huge enclosed back garden with orange and lemon trees and a giant towering gum tree, a front verandah and beautiful fenced front garden too.
Here’s a video of all the great things we did – if you are visiting Longreach and would like to visit the Longreach School of Distance Education head over to Facebook to enter our competition to win a family pass!