History & Heritage in Longreach

Located approximately 700 kilometres from the coast, west of Rockhampton, the town is named after the "long reach" of the Thomson River on which it is situated. The town is on the Tropic of Capricorn, with the main industries being cattle, sheep, and, more recently, tourism.

Longreach is the heart of the Queensland Outback and is known for it's history, rich heritage.  If you've always dreamed of visiting Australia's heartland in Outback Queensland, it's time seize the day and head for the bush! For the nature lovers, pitch a tent and camp under the stars orif you're like me, book a room with air-conditioned comfort... whatever your preference, Longreach offers visitors plenty of choice.

So now you've made the decision to go, what can you expect from this gem of a town?  Lots of iconic attractions set in incredible natural landscape... that's what!

First on the list and a must see is Camden Park Station – a fifth generation, family sheep and cattle property run by the Walker family.  Their homesteadhas been opened up to locals and tourists alike to immerse themselves in what can only be described as truly unique and memorable experience.  Spend an amazing day learning the history at the homestead which was once visited by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip. See the path royalty has walked and view the grand ballroom they once visited.  Let Outback Dan guide you on one of the tours vary and take in the Swagman's Grave, the Historic 'dry bottom' Chainman's Well, Artesian Spring and Bore, Longreach's Highest Lookout, The 'Queen's Path' and of course, the oldest Private Ballroom in the Outback!

Then there's Outback Pioneers' Nogo Station Experience - an historic homestead... think cattle thieves, sheep shearing, and a home cooked morning tea and you've got the Outback Pioneers' Nogo Station Experience. The station experience gives visitors a glimpse into life on an outback station – from the times of Captain Starlight in the 1800s to the modern day!  The tour departs from Longreach and the Outback Pioneers' Nogo Station Experience brings outback history and a contemporary working station together to tell an important part of Australia’s story.  As you make your journey to the station, you will begin to learn the history of the region and the property, including its ties to infamous cattle thief, Harry Redford (aka Captain Starlight).  You will be shown the ruins of the stockyards, which are said to have been purpose-built by Captain Starlight to hold his mob of stolen cattle while he rebranded them before droving them to South Australia to sell.  Wander around the house and view some of the rooms as they may have looked back in the day, with each room telling a story on what country life was and, in many ways, still is today.

For something a bit different, why not take in a cemetery tour? Cemeteries hold amazing stories of our past and what better way to find out how those dear departed helped shape the town's history.

The tour is a 75 minute historical tour where you will hear the stories of the town’s former residents -   you'll be told about their hopes, dreams and their ideals, whilst also learning about the mysteries that surround the town. 

The Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre is Australia’s premier outback heritage institution. The Centre’s five themed galleries proudly display the history behind some of Australia’s greatest and bravest explorers, stock workers, pastoralist, and Aborigines. The exhibits comprising an eclectic mix of objects, images, touch screens, audiovisual presentations and open displays, allowing visitors to interpret the outback story in their own unique way.

The museum also houses a vast reserve collection which forms a unique work-in-progress display. From behind a glass wall, visitors can view archival material, photographs, artworks and various other items used for research and in new display development.

The Social History Hall is now home to the museum’s conservation storeroom and a small collection of Longreach social history. This includes: 1948 era classroom, the remains of the Longreach School of Arts Museum (1930-1970), a replica Airport Control Centre and a collection of commercial office equipment, circa 1908 – 1950 from local business house!

Cobb & Co were the pioneers of stagecoach travel and mail services throughout Australia. On an Outback Pioneers' Cobb & Co Stagecoach Experience you’ll travel in a restored stagecoach – first at a leisurely pace through town and then full-tilt along a stretch of the original Longreach-Windorah mail route...just like years gone by!  Pounding hooves of the horses, the rattle and creak of the coach. Hold on to your hat for the only stagecoach gallop in Australia! This experience is the closest you can get to feeling what it would have been like in the pioneer past.

Cue “All the Rivers Run” theme. Take to the water and cruise on the only paddle wheeler in the area or on the Thomson Princess Riverboat.  Enjoy an adventure to the heart of Outback tradition and legend - cruise down the river, taking in all the flora and fauna has to offer. You will head to shore for a traditional stockman’s camp-fire dinner, followed by bush poetry with a local outback storyteller. Next, the bush is illuminated by the Starlight’s Spectacular Sound & Light Picture Show – a unique big-screen presentation featuring locals in the amazing adventures of the notorious cattle thief known as ‘Captain Starlight’. Then you will end your night with a billy tea and a damper! Sounds like the perfect night out under the stars!

There is so much more to see and do in this Outback gem and there really is something for everyone.... what better way to see how our ancestors lived and how your kids that we really do live in the “lucky country”.

Cristy Houghton