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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Where the bloody hell is Muttaburra …

The next couple of days is all about geocaching and trying to get close to my next milestone of 19000 finds. To do that around here, the only place nearby with a lot of caches is Muttaburra.
But where the bloody hell is Muttaburra. Well it is around 100 kilometres north of Longreach in Central Queensland.
In fact the geographical centre of Queensland is just out of Muttaburra.
The town has a population of around 76 and its claim to fame is Muttaburrasaurus Langdoni which is a dinosaur of which fossils have been found nearby.
We took the Morella Muttaburra Road from the main highway which was a 80 kilometre black earth track with concrete floodways interspersed along it. 
The road was very smooth but also very soft if you moved off the main wheel tracks. I am sure this would not be passable with any sort of water on it.
The road then turned into a gravel road and then bitumen for the last 10 kilometres.
The local council has set up a caravan park with very reasonable rates of $15 a night for a powered site but after 2 nights it is free. I guess they are trying to get people to stay here.
Once the van was set up, we headed out to grab geocaches as well as discover what is around the place.
For a small town, there is plenty to see.
On nearly every corner is some sort of sculpture, either made from barbed wire or things found in farm sheds. The favourite was the shearer and sheep made from farm bits.
A close second was the Cessna aircraft at the entrance to the airport.
It was amazing the amount of kangaroos around town. No need for lawnmowers here as you have your own kangaroos to keep the grass well kept.
Muttaburra was also one of the 60 camp sites for the 1891 Shearer Strike.
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Is this Jurassic Park …

Today was all about dinosaurs especially since Winton is the dinosaur capital of Australia.
The region around Winton, Richmond and Hughenden has unearthed a lot of dinosaur fossils in the blacksoil. 
There has been that many fossils found, the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum and Laboratory is now located just out of Winton.
The Ultimate Experience ticket we purchased gave us 3 tours, the collection room, the laboratory and Dinosaur Canyon.
The three main dinosaurs in this area are Australovenator wintonensis (Banjo), Diamantinasaurus maltidae (Matilda) and Savannasaurus elliottorum (Wade).
It was a good 4 hours learning and looking. We would recommend it to anyone interested in dinosaurs.
Winton has the Royal Open Air Theatre in the main street. It has been here for 100 years and this week just happens to be the “Vision Splendid” Film Festival so we took in a movie.
Last time we did an outdoor theatre was in Broome a couple of years ago.
The movie tonight was “The Butterfly Tree” an Australian film which was listed as a comedy, family drama. Not sure about the comedy or family but was definitely drama.
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Yippee ki yay …

Once again, we opened the blinds this morning and the campground was empty. That’s OK we only are moving onto the next town, Winton, 150 kilometres away.
The land was fairly flat with a lot of floodway up and downs.
We were 10 kilometres out from Winton when it was a total standstill due to clogging traffic but not what you think.
The area has been in drought for around 7 years and there was a large herd of cattle being driven along the stock route which is also the highway.
The cattle were just been gently moved along, eating the grass along the way.
It took about 15 minutes to get through the herd at walking pace. We were nearly through when the young steers mad a run and got around in front of us again.
Arriving into Winton, I tried the first 2 caravan parks and they had no vacancies unless we had a booking so it was off to the final one before we looked for free camps.
The Matilda Country Tourist Park didn’t take bookings so it was your place in line determined whether you had a site or not. We were lucky to get one of the last few sites.
Once set up, it was time to have a look around town (it is not that big) and the area.
First stop was the original landing field for Qantas although there is nothing there now apart from a musical fence and a commemorative rock.
Next it was down to the original location of Winton at Pelican Waterhole. Even though the site was up on high ground, apparently it flooded out so the town was moved to even higher ground.
It was then time to drive the “Route of the Gums”, a self drive tour through Bladensburg National Park. It used to be a cattle property but is now a National Park.
At the old homestead, there was a lot of information about the former life of the property. The drive took in  a number of waterholes and a couple of spots with some intriguing history.
The 1891 Shearer’s Strike Memorial was at the location of the Camp of 500 striking shearers which was the beginning of the foundation of the Australian Labour Party.
At Skull Hole back in 1888, 200 aboriginals were massacred in retaliation of the murder of a station cook.
Most of the camping areas in the Park were packed with free campers.
Our van was sited next to Banjo’s Barn in the caravan park so we had country music while we had dinner and then we went round to listen to a bush poet, Gregory North.
It was a good show with some modern twists on some of the classic bush poetry of Banjo Paterson.
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Thats not a knife …

We had planned to make a small journey of 110 kilometres from Cloncurry to McKinlay and stay at the Walkabout Creek Hotel.
We arrived fairly early in McKinlay and visited the Walkabout Creek Hotel which was the hotel they filmed Crocodile Dundee.
There was a bit of film memorabilia but not enough to keep us here for the night so we continued on to Kynuna down the track.
I think the Kynuna township had a population of 16, but there was at least double that camped in the Kynuna Roadhouse Campground.
We spent the afternoon chatting with a couple, Gavin and Margaret, travelling from Griffith, NSW.
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It’s a Pretty Blue but don’t be swimming in it …

We only had 120 kilometres to travel from Mt Isa to Cloncurry but it took 4 hours. And it wasn’t because of geocaching – well not entirely.
Half way between the two towns is the old site of the Mary Kathleen Uranium Mine, which operated from 1954 to 1984.
Even though there are no buildings left on the site, you can go up to the old open cut pit to see the vivid blue water but not sure you would want to go for a swim in there.
Back at the old town site, the bitumen roads and concrete gutters are still there as is all the concrete pads where all the houses and shops used to sit.
It was surreal given that we had watched the film from the 60’s showing life in the town. You could pick where the old town square was and the beer garden. The bowling club was also recognisable.
It is not all that abandoned with it now a highly recommended free camp with many caravans, motorhomes and tents utilising the old house pads.
Along the way we stopped at the Clem Walton Reserve or Corella Dam which was built to supply water to the Mary Kathleen Uranium Mine. We thought it sounded like a good spot to either have lunch or free camp but about 200 other vans had the same idea. It was a great spot but if we are going to be packed in like a caravan park, we might as well stay in one closer to town.
Arriving at the Cloncurry Caravan Park Oasis, there was a bit of a queue but luckily they have an overflow area. 
I am not sure we are in the overflow though as we were directed to a site near the entrance and ablution block.
We spent the afternoon exploring the town including the Mary Kathleen Memorial Park where some of the buildings from the mine have been moved to live a new life.
To the north of town, at the airport is one of the original Qantas hangers. Its has been restored and there are some information panels to read on the outside. The other original hanger is in Longreach.
From the airport we headed to the Chinamans Creek Dam which provides water to the town as well as the mines that are in the area. 
There was a lookout that gave views over town and afar. We waited around for sunset but as there were no clouds to speak of, it wasn’t all that spectacular.
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