Talk about the middle of nowhere! But oh what a fun place to visit…..In order to reach Winton, you have to first fly into the airport in Longreach (Winton is about a 2hr drive N.W.).Longreach is, in fact, the birthplace of the world-famous QANTAS Airlines (Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services) and they have a wonderful museum/heritage centre celebrating the planes that opened up the outback. Although Suzi and I had a few hours to kill on Longreach while waiting for our flight out to Uluru, we only drove past the Qantas Founders Museum but even then we could see the giant 747 jumbo jet in the middle of the exhibition park. Wow, it’s bloody huge!Instead, we hung around the beautiful little town, enjoying some souvenir shopping and of course, I had to enjoy one of the the locally baked meat pies at the Merino Bakery – and a sticky bun….mmmmmm, deelish! We browsed through the fabulous Station Store [https://store.kinnonandco.com.au/] where you can find all manor of country style home accessories, dried flowers, toys, scented soaps, linens…plus out the back, there was a stockman telling yarns (stories) to a small crowd of tourists. And it was here that I met Eduardo…
When I walked around the aisles of the Station Store, I felt a furry little peck on my leg, looked down and found Eduardo the emu. He obviously wanted to join me on my travels around Australia so I “rescued” him from the shop shelves and he then accompanied me on numerous flights as we hit several more outback towns and cities before heading home with me to Toronto.
The one place that intrigued both Suzi and me was the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame…yes a museum and heritage centre dedicated to the rugged life and history of stockmen (cowboys) who oversaw the millions of sheep and cattle that roamed the massive remote stations (homesteads) of the outback over the past 150+ years.They have hundreds of photos, displays of artifacts, videos and interactive exhibitions including the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the cameleers (the Afgan traders who brought household goods and supplies to the remote regions and whose camels were let loose once the railways were built) and features legendary bush artists, poets and musicians, too.
Rodeos are not the sole domain of US cowboys and western life….out in the Australian bush, rodeos and livestock shows were not only great entertainment back in the day but also the only time people could meet and get to know their neighbours regardless of the fact that they lived hundreds of miles apart. The Hall of Fame displayed lots of newspapers and photos highlighting the colourful rodeo clowns, riders and community… And no Aussie bush museum would be complete without a tribute to Slim Dusty’s “Pub with no Beer” anthem (I grew up listening to that song which every Australian can still sing word-for-word). Of course I had to get behind the bar…Outside there were a number of stunning sculptures including this handsome stockman – The Ringer. …and across the paddock, you can see the QANTAS museum, too. So if you’re considering an outback adventure, please think about visiting Longreach, gateway to the Queensland & Northern Territory outback – here are some websites to explore: https://stockmanshalloffame.com.au/ https://qfom.com.au/ https://experiencelongreach.com.au/