The Spirit of the Outback and Longreach

11 Day Outback Queensland Tour Featuring the Spirit of the Outback and Longreach

11 days: 8th June – 18th June 2017

 

Our Outback adventure includes a journey on the “Spirit of the Outback” from Brisbane to Longreach.  This fascinating 1,300 km journey offers a unique insight into the history and culture of early Australia, combined with interesting commentary, a social atmosphere and an authentic dining experience.  From the comfort of a sleeper or seat, we will wonder at the ever-changing landscape as the train moves from the coast through the heart of the Outback with its rugged mountains, wide-open plains and historic towns.  Our destination of Longrech is the centre of a vast area known as the Central West, in the geographical heart of Queensland.  There are some fascinating things to see and do in this part of the world – a region that attracted bush poets like Banjo Patterson and pioneers, like the early post world war one pilots who formed the Queensland and Northern Territory Arial Services, which in turn helped form the Flying Doctor Service.  What really makes the area are the characters who live here.  We will be meeting some of them over the next 11 days.

  dubbo1

Day 1: (D): Home Port to Dubbo:  Thursday 8 June 2017

This morning we embark on our tour to Outback Queensland.  We begin bright and early as we use today as a travel day to get all the way to Dubbo for dinner and our overnight accommodation.  Making convenience stops along the way should see us arriving by late afternoon. (Lunch own expense, dinner at the motel)

Golden West Motor Inn, Dubbo – (02 6882 2822)

 

Day 2: (BLD):  Dubbo to Roma:  Friday 9 June 2017

Setting off early this morning we continue north, taking a lunch break in Lightning Ridge at the Bowling Club before crossing the New South Wales border into Queensland.  First Queensland stop is in St George where we see an interesting venture at The Unique Egg.  This is a world class collection of handcarved illuminated emu eggs, handcrafted by Steve Margaritis over a period of more than 40 years.  Steve’s private collection has been displayed at World Expos, but is permanently housed at the Unique Egg in St George.  This truly fascinating attraction has to be seen to be believed!  The rest of our afternoon is spent expressing to our overnight accommodation in Roma.  (Breakfast and dinner in the motel, lunch Lightning Ridge Bowling Club)

Roma Explorers Inn, Roma (07 4620 1400)

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Day 3: (BD):  Roma to Charleville: Saturday 10 June 2017

Roma is an early Queensland settlement and now the centre for a huge sheep and cattle raising district.  There’s enough oil in the area to support a small refinery, which produces just enough petroleum for local use.  Gas deposits in the region are rather larger and Roma supplies the city of Brisbane with gas through a 450km pipeline. This morning we enjoy the sights of the city before we depart and head west.  We arrive in Charleville around lunch time, giving us a chance to take a stroll along the main street and purchase lunch.  Our afternoon sight-seeing includes a stop at the Steiger Gun, a bizarre piece of Western Queensland history.  It is one of ten guns used by the Queensland Government Meteorologist Professor Clement Wragge at Charleville, September 26 1902.’  It was a vain attempt to induce a deluge and thus break the drought, which had been going on since 1896.  Wragge’s novel approach was to send blasts of air into the atmosphere.  He persuaded the authorities in Brisbane to build Steiger guns, which he duly placed around Charleville.  They were all filled with gunpowder and ignited.  Nothing happened.  We make our way to accommodation for an overnight stay.  After dinner we visit the Cosmos Centre (subject to availability) to enjoy the open-air observatory and view the outback night sky.  (Breakfast and dinner in the motel, lunch own expense)

Charleville Motel, 07 4654 1566 (subject to availability)

charle

Day 4: (BLD): Charleville to Longreach:  Sunday 11 June 2017

This morning we farewell Charleville and travel to Blackall, home to the legendary gun shearer Jackie Howe and where he set the almost unbelievable record of shearing 321 sheep with blade shears in a day.  A bronze statue now stands as a monument to the man and the achievement.  We have a tour at the Blackall Woolscour where we also enjoy our lunch.  This is the only fully intact steam-powered wool washing plant left in Australia. The historic Blackall Woolscour is a living museum and a direct physical link to Australia’s pioneering era.  It is totally authentic, unique, full of history and has great educational and social values.  The Woolscour operated commercially under steam power from 1908 until 1978, and though it is now a tourist attraction, the machinery is as functional now as it was then.  Next stop is Barcaldine, a town steeped in the history of the early pioneers struggles and the evolution of Australia as a nation.  Hear about the shearers strike in the 1890’s and see the “Tree of Knowledge”, which marks the spot where the Australian Labour Party was formed.  We take in the history of this fascinating area before continuing onto Longreach where we base ourselves for the next four nights.  (Breakfast and dinner in the motel, lunch Woolscour)

Albert Park Motor Inn, (07 4658 2411)

blackall

Day 5: (BD): Longreach icons:  Monday 12 June 2017

Today we enjoy two of Longreachs’ most iconic attractions.  First is The Stockmans Hall of Fame which is a fantastic presentation of the life of a stockman.  Here we will see outback antiques, videos that make use of modern technology to tell old stories, an 1866 settlers hut and all the stockmans paraphernalia is on show.  It is easy to become emersed in this museum and spend hours marveling at the achievements of these Aussie icons.  There is a café here we can purchase lunch from if needed.  It is not far back to our motel for a little free time.  Late afternoon our second iconic visit is to the Qantas Founders Outback Museum, adjacent to the historic 1922 Qantas hangar, which has been restored.  The complex houses the museum, theatrette and exhibition hall, visitor information centre and restaurant.  Historic photographs, memorabilia and multi-media interactive displays eloquently tell the inspirational stories of overcoming the problems of long distance travel in Outback Australia.  A Boeing 747-200, donated by Qantas Airways Ltd, is included in the exhibit and forms a spectacular part of the museum’s outdoor display.  Our visit provides us with an appreciation of the vision and achievements of the Qantas Founders, which is “that Qantas would one day become one of the world’s greatest airlines.” Our visit is made even more significant by the fact we are the only ones here!  We have the whole museum to ourselves and our exclusive dinner is right in the middle of the museum displays.  This is a unique event to say the least.  After a wonderful day I believe we will have fallen in love with this town. (Breakfast in the motel, lunch own expense, Qantas founders dinner)

Albert Park Motor Inn, 07 4658 2411 (subject to availability)

stockman-hall-of_fame

Day 6: (BD):  Longreach:  Tuesday 13 June 2017

Today we are going to have a special experience as we get an insight to the area through the eyes of local farmers.  On arrival at the Camden Park Station we meet the Walker family, where diversification is part of history.  Their incredible property tells many stories, from the early Chinese craftsman creating water storage to the drilling for Artesian bore water, changing from Santa Gertrudis cattle stud to harvesting of native Mitchell grasses as hay.  We will be hosted by a family member on board the coach telling these stories first-hand, followed by morning tea.  We then head back into town and really step back in time – at Kinnon & Co in the main street.  Their Station Store has an amazing range of traditionally made leatherwear and a treasure trove of historic nostalgia.  While we are here we will meet that famous horse and the larrikin owner and his son who present a live show “Starlights Spectacular” – a legends tribute.  It will be a lot of fun.  There will be a little bit of free time this afternoon for shopping.  Late afternoon we soak up a spectacular outback as we enjoy the Drover’s Afternoon Cruise aboard the M.V.  Enjoy enthralling commentary on-board, then unwind on the bank of the Thomson River while watching a magnificent outback sunset with nibbles, followed by a two course table-service dinner as we watch the entertaining Smithy’s Outback Show.  This will be a memorable evening and a great way to end our day in Longreach.  (Breakfast in the motel, lunch own expense, Drovers dinner)

Albert Park Motor Inn, 07 4658 2411 (subject to availability)

camden

Day 7: (BLD):  Age of Dinosaurs:  Wednesday 14 June 2017

Our days touring begins by travelling nearly to Winton.  This central area of Queensland abounds with early Australian folklore and history.  It was in this area that Banjo Paterson wrote his famous poem about the swagman and the jolly jumbuck and “Waltzing Matilda” was first heard in a pub in Winton.  Unfortunately the Waltzing Matilda Museum was burnt down last year but we have arranged a very interesting visit none the less.  We arrive at The Australian Age of Dinosaurs, south of Winton, located on top of a Jump-Up.  This is a rugged mesa plateau formation that stands 75 metres above the surrounding plains.  We will have a clear view to spot any dinosaurs in the vicinity.  The area surrounding Winton is full of archaeological digs and today we have the opportunity to take a tour and learn about this prehistoric phenomenon and see real dinosaur bones being prepared in the laboratory.  The newly opened facility has won many awards for its design and content.  We spend most of the day here and include a lovely lunch from a fantastic vantage point.  This afternoon we make our way back to our motel where we have time for a swim before dinner is served.  (Breakfast and dinner in the motel, lunch Age of Dinosaurs)

Albert Park Motor Inn, 07 4658 2411 (subject to availability)

dino

Day 8: (BLD):  Longreach and the Spirit of the Outback:  Thursday 15 June 2017

We check out in time to make our way to the terminal to board our 10am train – The Spirit of the Outback.  This is a unique train that offers us a memorable journey into the Outback.  On board the specially themed carriages reflect the images of the outback and “The Spirit” is the only train of its kind that speaks the language of the Outback and interprets the rich folklore that has developed over time on the dry inland plains of Australia.  There is a well appointed dining car, First Class sleeping berths, bar and relaxing areas to chat with fellow passengers.  We travel to Rockhampton arriving at

midnight before we head south.  (Breakfast at the motel, lunch and dinner on the train)

Spirit of the Outback overnight

 the-spirit-of-the-outback-train

Day 9: (BD): Arriving Brisbane:  Friday 16 June 2017

Having travelled overnight we arrive into Roma Street station in Brisbane at midday.  After meeting our new coach captain for the day we head off on a sightseeing trip around Brisbane, for a closer look at the Queensland Capital.  As well as the city sights we enjoy a visit to the Mount Coot-tha Park.  This large park has a lookout and an excellent Botanic Garden.  The views from the top are superb and on a clear day you can see the distant line of Moreton and Stradbroke Islands, the Glasshouse Mountains to the north, the mountains behind the Gold Coast to the south and Brisbane, with the river winding through, at our feet.  From Mount Coot-tha we return to the city and some free time.  Spend time in the city or you may care to visit the fabulous Southbank Parklands.  Facing onto the Brisbane River and the central city, it occupies the area utilised for the 1988 Brisbane Expo.  Having been extensively redeveloped it is now one of the city’s liveliest and most interesting areas.  A great way to spend some time along the Brisbane River is by taking the FerryCat (passengers own expense), getting on and off at a couple of the notable stops or simply stay on for the wonderful ride!  We are welcomed at our Brisbane accommodation just outside the city with wonderful views of the river.

Riverview Hotel, Brisbane (07 3862 1800)

mount-cootha

Day 10: (BD): Brisbane to Port Macquarie:  Saturday 17 June 2017

Today is a travel day so we jump on the coach, heading south, making convenience stops throughout the day which has us arriving in Port Macquarie for our last overnight stay late this afternoon.  (Breakfast and dinner at the motel, lunch own expense)

El Paso Motor Inn, Port Macquarie (02 6583 1944)

port-macquarie

Day 11: (B): Port Macquarie to Home:  Sunday 18 June 2017

After breakfast we set our sights on travelling home.  We express home with a stop for lunch along the way after a memorable trip.  (Breakfast in the motel, lunch own expense)