This may turn out as a epic, bigger than Ben Hur, as it's a long journey
covering thousands of kilometers and 3 weeks, so stay with me folks.
In April 2002, Peter and I decided to travel to Perth on the west coast
of Australia. I had three weeks holiday, whereas Peter, being a retired
bum (said in the nicest way) could take as long as he wanted.
Once in Perth I would fly back home to Brisbane, whereas Peter was
staying in Perth (where his three sons live) and would return back to
Gympie at his leasure.
Double click on the map to enlarge the picture to see where we went.
Our itinerary for our three week
journey from Brisbane to Perth.
I drove up to Gympie to join Peter where we began our journey.
Peter had a 4WD Land Rover Discovery which we may need to
use on some of the tracks we were going to travel over.
...............Peter and his beloved (?) Land Rover Discovery.
We had decided to "rough it" by using a tent as our sleeping accommodation.
Mind you where we were going there were no towns for hundreds of miles.
Our first stop was in Rockhampton, and here we "chickened out" and stayed
in a caravan park. We were going to have some comfort whenever we could.
Rockhampton is known as the Beef Capital of Australia and was proclaimed
a city in 1902. The population of Rockhampton is about 66,500.
The Fitzroy River provided a convenient waterway for shipping of supplies
for those who followed them, and a settlement grew on the riverbanks just
downstream of a bar of rocks which prevented further upstream navigation
from the coast. These rocks were incorporated with the traditional English
term for a village, and the name "Rockhampton" was born around 1856,
though was not proclaimed officially until 1858.
The early tents and shantys were slowly replaced by more substantial
buildings. The historic streetscape of Quay Street still displays a number
of substantial historic buildings, built when Rockhampton was envisaged
as being Capital of the State of North Queensland. Most prominent of these
is the sandstone Customs House, which today houses an information centre.
...............The Customs House in Rockhampton.
...........The Criterion Hotel in Rockhampton.
Following the Canoona gold rush of the 1850's the embryo of the Criterion
Hotel, Palmers store was situated on the banks of the Fitzroy River opposite
the present Criterion. 1856 saw the construction of the Bush Inn where The
Criterion now stands by Robert Parker of Gayndah. The eldest daughter of
Parker, Dorinda Anne was inspired to erect a 'public house of splendor and
class' and after several journeys overseas The Criterion Hotel was constructed
The next morning we continued on to Longreach, but before we reached
there we stopped at Barcaldine which is a small town approximately 520
kilometres by road west of Rockhampton. The town takes its name from
a sheep station called Barcaldine Downs.
Barcaldine played a significant role in the Australian Labour Movement
and the birth of the Australian Labour Party. In 1891, it was one of the
focal points of the Australian Shearer's Strike, with the Eureka Flag flying
over the strike camp. The landmark "Tree of Knowledge", under which the
strikers met, still stands outside the railway station.
The Eureka Flag based on the constellation of the Southern Cross.
One of the first May day marches in the world took place during the strike
on May 1st, 1891 in Barcaldine. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that
1340 men took part of whom 618 were mounted on horse. Banners carried
included those of the Australian Labor Federation, the Shearer's and Carrier's
Unions, and one inscribed "Young Australia".
The leaders wore blue sashes and the Eureka Flag was carried.
..............The 'Tree of Knowledge" in Barcaldine.
In 2006, persons unknown poisoned the tree with the herbicide "Roundup"
and this appears to have led to its demise.
The ghost gum is symbolic of the Australian Labor Party, which was founded in the town.
Barcaldine Mayor Rob Chandler says it appears someone has poured
about 30 litres of chemicals over the tree's roots.
100 km later we arrived at Longreach. In 1886 the railways were surveying
for the rail line west of Rockhampton and found the present site of Longreach
to be suitable for the terminus of the rail line. In November 1887, the
establishment of the town by the outstation of Mt. Cornish, which was located
in the vicinity of the present day This outstation, like the town, may have
derived it’s name from the “long reach” of the Thomson River.
Longreach was one of the founding centres for the Australian Domestic and
International Airline, Qantas. One of the airline's original hangars remains in
use at the Longreach Airport. The town is now the home of the Qantas
Founders Outback Museum, which includes amongst its displays a
decommissioned Qantas Boeing 747 aircraft, named "The City of Bunbury."
One of the first planes used by Qantas.
The airline's first aircraft was an Avro 504K purchased for £1425 (A$2850).
The aircraft had a cruising speed of 105 kilometres per hour (65 mph) and
carried one pilot and two passengers.
Qantas was founded in Winton on 16th November, 1920 as Queensland And
Northern Territory Aerial Services.
Interior of the first Qantas plane that could take 6 passengers. Behind the
curtain there was even a toilet.
Longreach is also the home of the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame, which
was officially opened in 1988 by Queen Elizabeth II. The aim of the centre is
to showcase the history and the culture of life in rural Australia. Since its
opening over 1 million people have passed through the doors.
The Stockman's Hall of Fame and a statue of a stockman (cattleman).
In 1974, Hugh Sawrey, well known stockman and outback artist,
enlisted supporters for his dream for a memorial to the explorers,
overlanders, pioneers and settlers of remote
site in Longreach in Central Western Queensland was once a teamster's
stop beside a large waterhole.
The centre features an extensive display area. There are five themed
galleries each depicting an important aspect of our pioneering history.
The exhibits are a mixture of objects, images, audiovisual presentations
and open displays. Five exhibition galleries outlining the story of
Australia’s pioneers in the Pastoral Industry, a tribute to the
individuals, families and their achievements in the outback.
Although people of all ages enjoy visiting Longreach and the Stockman's
Hall of Fame, the largest segement of people are those in the fifty and
over age group, as they have a particular interest in
The story begins with the arrival of the aboriginal people some 40,000
years ago, through settlement of the British and onto todays jet aircraft,
satelitte communication and four wheel drive transport, which was
unthinkable a century ago.
For those who visit our country a trip to Longreach is well worth the visit.
Even the Model T Ford was a
important part of the opening
up of country Australia.
Qantas is the name and call sign of the National Airlines of Australia
and the world's second oldest continuously running independent airline
behind KLM. It is the 11th largest airline in the world.
Part 2 will continue when we continue onto Winton, where
Qantas had its beginnings.