Westward ho …

The further south we headed, the colder it was getting so it is time to head west again.
We farewelled Charleville after filling up the jerry cans. We now have an extra 40 litres of fuel which will be needed in a couple of days.
Another easy day with 200 kilometres through to Quilpie getting in around lunchtime. This is sort of like being grey nomads without the early starts.
Not a lot to see here apart from the Baldy Top Lookout and the Opal alter in the local church.
We made the walk up to the top of the Baldy Top Lookout which gave 360 degree views of the region. 
The St Finbarr’s Church had been donated a lot of opal back in the day with which they adorned the alter and lecterns with. There were some interesting colours and large pieces too.
Back at the Channel Country Tourist Park, Jenny went for a spa. They are filled with artesian water and Jenny enjoyed it.
On sunset, it was campfire and singer time. Tonights singer was Kenny M, who did both kinds of music, Country and Western, as well as many of his own poems.
Tomorrow we head further west to Windorah.
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There it goes …

Wow, was it cold this morning. We awoke to a chilly 1C at 8am and normally we would have stayed in bed but we needed to be somewhere.
At 915am each morning, the Bureau of Meteorology releases a weather balloon automatically at the Charleville Airport.
We have never seen one released so precisely at 915am, the balloon came out of its home and headed off, unwinding the instrument underneath as it went. After 5 minutes, you couldn’t see it so tick that one off the list.
Four years ago, there was a road train carrying ammonium nitrate that caught fire 30 kilometres south of Charleville, taking out the road bridge, the rail bridge as well as the fire trucks.
There were a number of injuries but no deaths and the explosion was heard in Charleville.
The road bridge has been replaced but not the rail bridge and there is a memorial to the event at the site with information boards and of course a geocache.
We headed down to check it out. The Emergency crews were very lucky to be alive looking at the photos of the devastation. 
Back in town a train came through so not sure what line they were using as there was no getting through where the explosion had occurred.
This afternoon and evening we spent at the Cosmos Centre & Observatory. There was some interesting presentations but the best bit was when it got dark.
The skies are very clear around Charleville and they have a good observatory with 4 telescopes and we got to see up close the moon, Jupiter and Saturn.
The presenter, Sandra, was very knowledgeable and pointed out many constellations. Even got to see a shooting star.
Being outside, we could feel it getting cold again. It was already down to 12C as we left to head back to the caravan.
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Looking for the Cosmos Bilby …

A bigger than normal travel day with 400 kilometres from Barcaldine to Charleville.
There were a few stops along the way for geocaches with one taking us to the first crash site for Qantas back a long time a go when they were flying biplanes.
We nearly stopped at Tambo for the night as the rodeo was on in town but we decided to continue on to Charleville.
One interesting tree along the way was Boab trees. We were not expecting to see them here. 
A lot of Big Red Bashers would be making it through Charleville tonight so I made some calls to make sure we would get a caravan site.
First park was a no go as they were full. The second one, Cobb & Co Caravan Park, had room for a couple of nights.
We arrived in Charleville around 4pm. It is the largest town we have been in a while with wide streets and lots of shops and pubs but no traffic lights.
Spent a little bit of time checking out the town before taking it easy for the night.
One thing for today, the high was 19C. Looks like the jeans might make an appearance again.
Diesel was $1.569 in Tambo.
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Geocaching all day …

Not much today but flitting around the area grabbing 50 geocache finds while Jenny had a day back at the van taking it easy.
Even got 5 First to Finds on 4 puzzle caches and 1 multicache.
Nearly got to clear the map around Barcaldine but not quite leaving a few for the return visit in September.
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That’s a lot of machinery …

Its time to move on from Longreach but only 100 kilometres up the road to Barcaldine. Barcaldine is the location for the Queensland Outback Geocaching Muster in September. 
For the event, there have been a lot of geocaches hidden and I wanted to make a headstart on finding them. Tomorrow will be a big day.
Along the way, there is a little town called Ilfracombe. It is famous for its Machinery Mile. There is machinery along the Main street ranging in age from the horse drawn and steam era to current days.
Arriving in Barcaldine, we were confronted by the Tree of Knowledge or more so the Memorial for the Tree of Knowledge. It is huge and can be seen from a long way out. 
This site was again another shearers camp during the 1891 Shearers Strike. But unlike all the others, this is the actual spot where the Australian Labour Party was formed or so we are told.
We set up camp in the Barcaldine Tourist Park. This is a good spot with grass sites and even a billy tea and damper session with a local musician to listen to while partaking.
I will be staying here when the Queensland Outback Geocaching Muster is on with many other geocachers that have also booked in.
We were told to visit the Tree of Knowledge at night and it did not disappoint.
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Up, up and away …

The third big attraction and is this big for out here, the Qantas Founders Museum. It is not hard to miss as there is a Boeing 747 Jumbo plane parked out the front. 
Even more amazing is that the 747 was actually flown and landed at the Longreach Airport next to the museum. And that is on a runway that is too short and not wide enough for a 747.
Now that it is here, it can never be flown out unless there is a major upgrade to the runway.
Other planes that are now grounded here include a Catalina Flying Boat, Douglas DC-3, Boeing 707 and more recently the Super Constellation.
If you want to know anything about Qantas and its beginnings, this is the place to come.
We took the Jet Tour and we were lucky enough to have the curator take us through the 747, 707 and DC3. 
Even though we have flown in the 747 many times, there was things that we learned from our informed guide.
If you had the choice between here and the Stockmen’s Hall of Fame, I would suggest here.
You can even do a 747 wing walk as well, even though we didn’t do it.
We had a full day at the Founders Museum.
On return to the caravan park, Jenny said that there was a guy riding a horse on the other side of the caravan. I think she needs to visit Specsavers. It was a guy riding a bull.
He was the owner / singer / bull rider from the restaurant in the caravan park, The Woolshed. We were convinced and went for a buffet meal while being entertained by his singing.
Part of the entertainment was his dog leading the bull back to its paddock.
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Time for some more stockmen …

The next attraction in Longreach is the Australian Stockmen’s Hall of Fame. It was a busy spot today, even with a stockwoman on a horse to greet us at the door.
There was a lot of galleries covering various parts of outback life. These included the Cattle Kings, life on a station, the Flying Doctor, rodeos and horsemanship amongst other things.
There was a lot of reading, in fact, probably too much reading.
Around lunchtime in the arena was the Outback Stockman’s Show. I was expecting a bit more activity as the show was a lot of instructional talk with intercepts of action.
I guess given that I had spent a lot of time on farms and then in the agricultural industry as a stock agent, this didn’t have the wow factor for me.
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We have turned back time …

An early start for us this morning and it is the coldest morning on this trip since Burra with Central Queensland experiencing a cold snap. It was 6C at 8am.
We are spending the day going back in time to take in life experiences from the 1800’s and early 1900’s in Outback Australia.
Outback Pioneers is run by Kinnon & Co and we are spending the day with them with a Cobb & Co Stagecoach ride on one of the original mail routes to the south of Longreach.
We started out in the middle of town in one of 2 Cobb & Co stagecoaches pulled by 5 horses each. Its more than a ride with commentary on the whole Cobb & Co story in Australia.
We experienced the bumps, dust and rocks inside the coach but not as much as the family that got to sit up on top at the back.
Returning back in town, the up top family had the dust blown off them with a petrol blower.
Next was a Cobb & Co smoko with tea and scones before hitting the old time cinema to see “Smiley gets a gun“. It is a 1958 film of a young Aussie larikan set in a small country town.
The final part of this mornings entertainment was the “The Harry Redford Old Time Tent Show“. It was old time theatre using farm animals including horses, ducks, donkey and a cow.
All the activities this morning were run by the two Kinnon lads, Lane and Jeremy. Of course there is a old time store with modern prices, run by Mum Kinnon.
There was a break at lunchtime and it gave us a chance to check out the town of Longreach, do some supply shopping and grab some bits and pieces to repair little electrical things.
Later in the afternoon, we were picked up by a modern coach driven by Dad Kinnon. Tonight’s entertainment was the “Starlight’s Cruise Experience“.
After a number of different stops around town, the final destination was the Thomson River for a sunset cruise.
There were 2 boats, the Thomson Belle Paddlesteamer and Thomson Princess. We were allocated the Princess skippered by Lane with Jeremy skippering the Belle.
The cruise took us upstream with drinks (BYO) and nibbles with more commentary on the region and river.
It was then time to cruise back downstream and into the sunset.
Back on land it was time for a stockmans dinner cooked on the campfire. Dinner was stew, mash potato and bread followed by apple pie and cream for desert.
An old stockmen and bush poet, Scotty, entertained us with yarns and poems, some of his own and some of Banjo Patterson’s.
Following dinner, it was time for a movie. This time it was a movie on the life and times of Captain Starlight and his time in the Channel Country and in particular his big cattle duffing.
Billy Tea and Damper finished off the night after the movie.
It was a good day and would recommend it to anyone coming through Longreach.
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Its a Long Reach …

Today was a travel day from Muttaburra to Longreach, a huge distance of 120 kilometres.
There was a strong southeasterly wind last night and it persisted through the morning so we held off leaving until 11am. 
Even by then there was still a strong breeze but it was abating just.
Just as we were leaving Muttaburra, I got a call from my brother Dale but missed it. I was wondering what had gone wrong at home.
Returning his call, it turns out that he had taken my nephew Angus geocaching and was wondering what he is looking for.
After sending some photos of the cache he was looking for we continued on our way.
Along the way, there was some issues with the van rear camera so we stopped to do some soldering work on the plugs with no luck. There must be another issue.
Getting back into service, Dale had send through some photos of the geocaches he and Angus had found in the Belair National Park. I wonder if they are now hooked.
Longreach was fairly quiet except at the Longreach Tourist Park where it was starting to fill up. It is a big park with 306 sites and ours was a large bit of ground.
It will be our home for the next 5 days.
There wasn’t much open today but we filled up the car and did a spot of shopping for supplies.
I had another go at getting the caravan rear camera wire fixed but after re-soldering all connections, it looks like the wire may have an issue.
Hopefully I can get some more wire at the hardware store tomorrow.
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Another Geocaching Milestone – 19000 finds …

After a sleep-in, we finished off the geocaches around Muttaburra including a mini power trail along Broadwater which is a section of the Landsborough Channel available for camping but there were not too many camping.
Many of the caches in the area have been hidden by RoddyC and youngoldfella in readiness for a major Geocaching event to be held in September. I will be coming back for that event.
It just happened that they were in the next town called Aramac (about 85 kilometres away), placing more caches for the event.
After a couple of phone calls, we organised to catch up in the afternoon.
It was getting close to the 19000 milestone so after checking out which cache it would be, we headed to Aramac.
As it turned out, White Bull (GC72TC3), in the centre of Aramac was the lucky cache and was also the spot we caught up with Rod and John.
It was good to catch up and chat about the September event.
After clearing the geocaching map around Aramac, it was back to Muttaburra, dodging the dead kangaroos, live kangaroos, live emus, live cattle and live horses.
At one point I stopped to see if my eyes were deceiving me. There were three rogue cotton bushes growing on the edge of the road complete with cotton ready to pick.
Tomorrow we head to Longreach for 5 days of tourist activities.
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