The Queen's Visit

Anniversaries are always a wonderful time for reflection and reminiscing and this year, marks the 47th anniversary of when Sir James Walker requested the attendance of Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh (or Prince Phillip as we like to call him) to visit Camden Park Station and meet with lady dignitaries whilst in the Country for the opening of the Sydney Opera House.

On April 15, 1970 people came from as far as Roma, Rockhampton and Mt Isa to attend a luncheon hosted by the Matron of the local hospital. She sat with the Queen, introducing her the dignitaries and over lunch they discussed issues regarding rural women, their lifestyle, the community and what they had been able to pioneer while Prince Phillip mingled amongst the men.

The Queen arrived in her Rolls Royce and it was Outback Dan's father's job for the day to ensure the drive way leading into Camden Park Station was graded so the Rolls wouldn't bottom out!

One of the Queen's key takings from the day was the fact Camden Park was the only place she had been to in the world where she should actually see 360 degree views without a man made structure in sight (something they are still proud of today).

Not many photos were taken that day simply due to technology and the Queen in actual fact, carried her own personal camera around during her visit and was taken aback by the hospitality of the community and by the welcoming sight of all the Union Jack flags flying throughout the town.

Sir James received a letter from the Yacht Britannia thanking him for the hospitality and a personally signed and dated photograph of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. This photo hangs proudly on the “mini hall of fame” wall at the Homestead.

One of the stories the town still tell is from when one of the reporters from the media thought she'd visit the local pub to ask the locals what the visit meant to them personally. All they could talk about was the chair she sat in and what they were going to do with it (in their typical larrikin way!). The chair was nicknamed “The Throne” and can be found at the Homestead to this very day.

Fast forward to 1988, Australia's bicentennial year and the Queen and Prince Phillip returned to Longreach for the opening of the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame!

Again, in April, the Queen announced the opening to a crowd of 12,000 plus people. The town had been nicknamed “tent city”, due to the fact that the 30 motel rooms had been completely booked so everyone had to bring their swags and tents and camp out.

Sir James shared the opening with the Queen and in his excitement gave Queen Elizabeth "3 cheers"! (A conversation with Mrs Walker soon followed and Sir James was informed by his wife that perhaps the "3 cheers" weren't such a good idea and there was a certain etiquette you must follow when addressing her Majesty... such as no touching (we're looking at you Paul Keating!), you must courtesy and so on). But the Queen took it in her stride and gave a wave after the crowd finished their cheers.

This has now become a bit of a legacy, with the "3 cheers" given on her 90th birthday, the silver jubilee and Prince Phillips birthday.

The affinity between Outback Queensland and the Royal family has continued over the years, with Prince Charles and Camilla visiting the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame and Dan's brother has had the pleasure of meeting William and Kate at a luncheon he attended. It is now Dan's mission to entice Prince Harry to come visit the area and keep the royal connection alive. If anyone can do it, it's Outback Dan!

Cristy Houghton