Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Blackall and Longreach

Had a couple of nights in Blackall on our way to Longreach. Must say we are always impressed at how these small outback towns promote themselves and make the most of any natural and/or historic attractions. At Blackall there is a restored Wool Scour that is quite remarkable. It is the only one left now that Australia no longer 'rides on the sheep's back'. We're still a major sheep country, but all shorn fleece is now shipped to China for the necessary washing and scouring. The Blackall Wool Scour used hot water from the Artesian Basin along with a mighty steam engine to power the whole works. It was fully restored some years ago and is carefully maintained and quite a wonder to see just how efficient was that old technology. In its day tens of thousands sheep were brought here to be shorn with their fleece graded and processed at the same place. It was baled and loaded into a branch railway line to join up with the main line down to Brisbane for shipping.

We had a lovely day out looking over this Wool Scour and with the open grounds with a small mob of sheep - and one goat - Charley also was most interested.

Next town was Longreach, where we also stayed for a few days. 
An original Qantas hangar.
The town has two major attractions - firstly the wonderful Qantas Founders' Museum. The Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service (Qantas) was founded in 1920 in Winton and moved its headquarters the following year to Longreach. It has an award winning, world-class museum and cultural display, with interative displays and videos, etc., to tell the history of our national airline. It also has on display a de Havilland DH-61 Giant Moth, de Havilland DH-50, and Avro 504K Dyak; Quantas' first aircraft as well as some more modern craft like a Catalina and a massive Boeing 747. Well worth visiting.

Secondly, the town has the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame - a massive complex detailing much of the work of Australia's early outback settler families and the essential work of the stockmen/drovers on those vast cattle stations (ranches to non-Australians). 
Beautiful old Longreach Railway Station
The vast view from the Lookout
One day we drove about half and hour out of town where, in the middle of nowhere (it seems) is a mesa (jump-up) called Captain Starlight's Lookout. It's named after a bushranger character in Rolf Boldrewood's novel "Robbery Under Arms". 

There's no pathway but a very rough, rocky way to the top. It took about 15 minutes to scramble up - but in that time Charley was up and down about 4 times. The view from the top was well worth it - in any direction.

Three days is not long enough in Longreach!

Staying an extra few days gave us time to wash off some outback dust from our car and van and also do the essential clothes wash, too.

We had a final dinner at the local pub Bistro, and next morning, packed up and were on our way again.  

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