Travel period 5-7 August 2023

Heart of Outback Queensland

Longreach is the largest town in central Queensland. Located approximately 700 km 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, and it services an ever-growing tourism industry which has been driven by the success of the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, and the Qantas Founders Outback Museum.

How to get to Longreach

Longreach sits 1,180 km north-west of Brisbane. There are daily Qantas flights from Brisbane to Longreach or you can board the Spirit of the Outback train, that departs from Brisbane for Longreach twice a week.

For road trippers, enjoy the journey with many interesting places to stop and explore along the way. 

The Journey

Longreach, once known as “wool capital of the world”, is a real hub for outback travellers wanting a taste of iconic Australia and the traditional outback way of life.

Home of history from aboriginal heritage, stockmen and pioneers, Longreach is an outback town with a lot to offer.

To give you some context, before we reached Longreach, we had already traversed up the Calder Hwy and Silver City Hwy from Melbourne to Birdsville and stopped at many places along the way, then crossed the Birdsville Developmental Road to Windorah before we continued on to the Thomson Developmental Road that took us directly to Longreach.

We stopped in Longreach for two nights on our Outback Road trip and we decided to stay in a cabin, instead of free camping, at Longreach Tourist Park.

It was a self-contained studio style cabin and we could not be more satisfied with our decision. We settled into our air-conditioned cabin with ensuite, fully equipped kitchen and TV. These added that luxury touch to our outback experience.

Things to See and Do

Start your visit with a stroll down the bustling main street, which is lined with period building shops and cafes. You will notice “The Drovers” which were originally part of “The Human Factor” sculptures by John Underwood created for world expo 88 in Brisbane. There are also informative interpretive boards that share some of the town’s backstory.

Nearby, at the corner of Landsborough Highway and Galah Street is Edkins Park, which also has the site of The Cenotaph and the Longreach ANZAC service is held here each year.

On the opposite side of the park is Longreach Railway Station – the terminus station of the Central Western line, served by the Spirit of the Outback train which runs from Brisbane to Longreach twice a week. It was built from 1887 to 1916 and added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 12 December 2005.

Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre

It is a museum tribute to the pioneers of the Australian outback along with the stockman who’s shown bravery and courage working the lands.

Our first impression was the stunning look of the building. Built from timber, stone and corrugated iron, it is truly reminiscent of the outback. With its unique design, the Hall of Fame stands comfortably amongst the rugged yet vibrant rural landscape.

Welcomed by friendly staff as we walked in, we were given an iPod, with the procedures very clearly explained by the staff, before we were directed into the museum. The iPod activated from where we were standing, which gave us a choice of beautifully produced stories to listen to, relevant to where we were in the museum.

At our own pace, we wandered through the various levels of the Hall of Fame. Learned about Australia’s unsung pioneering heroes, the stories of the local indigenous tribes, explorers and stockmen. It was not an easy life as the exhibitions told us!

We did not “do” the Show but we found the Interactive Museum captivating and highly recommend it. It is world class when it comes to a museum in our outback! A must see for everyone at least once in their life. 

The statue of “The Ringer” by Eddie Hackman is in the foreground and was sculpted to mark the opening in 1988. It symbolizes endurance against all the odds.

Qantas Founders Museum

Longreach is possibly best known as the early home of Qantas, and the Qantas Founders Museum provides an interactive educational experience detailing the history and development of the country’s pioneer airline from early days to present day.

Encompassing a heritage hangar airpark, museum, galleries, restaurant and the gift shop, there is a lot to cover on a visit here.

Do not miss seeing where it all began in a heritage listed hangar. It was here that Qantas began its journey from a fledgling outback mail service to one of Australia’s largest companies.

The evening light show called luminescent Longreach – is a spectacular night time light designed to delight, entertain and inform. it is an entirely immersive experience that will not disappoint. Not to be missed if you are in Longreach.

The restored 1944 Catalina “flying boat”

Longreach Powerhouse and Historical Museum

Located just a short walk from the main street, it is housed in a decommissioned power station, which still holds the original gas-producers and eight massive generators from different periods. The Powerhouse Museum is the largest rural electricity generation plant in Australia.

You will see a sizeable collection of objects and artefacts relating to the history of the town from as early as 1908. There is also a 1930s Thomson River flood boat and the local fire engine from the 1960s. It was a fascinating step back in time.

Other Attractions in the Area

  • Camden Park Station – is a family run iconic Australian working station providing an exceptional Australia’s outback experience on a tour of Camden Park station, where you will visit their 18,000 acre working sheep and cattle station. Walk through the historical homestead gardens, shearing shed and cattle yards then tour the farm after a scrumptious smoko. Includes a visit to the historic ‘dry bottom’ Chinaman’s well that was built following the gold rush.
  • Nogo Station Experience – starting with a heritage tour of Longreach, where you will head out to Nogo Station’s historic shearing sheds and learn about the prized Merino wool. From there, you will head out on safari across the vast outback plains, before wrapping up with a traditional pioneer ‘smoko’ under the gum trees at Captain Starlight’s Camp. 
Nogo Station experience, photo credit; Outback Pioneers

Apart from that, there are many operators running different kinds of outback style tours like;

Cobb & Co Stagecoach Experience – you will 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.

Hear the pounding hooves of the magnificent horses on the outback dirt road. Hold on to your hat for the only stagecoach gallop in Australia! It’s exhilarating and it’s the closest you can get to feeling what it would have been like in the pioneer past.

Cobb & Co stagecoach, photo credit; Outback Pioneers

Great Darr River Rail Run – aboard the heritage Rail Motor as it travels over the Thomson River and its flood plains, highlighted by the stories that connect the romance of rail with a special slice of western Queensland life outside your window.

Silver-Tails Rail Sunset with Smithy’s Dinner and Show – starts with the late afternoon rail experience where you watch the sun set over the floodplains, whilst savouring signature canapes, enjoying a drink, and quality Outback Hospitality on the heritage Rail Motor.

After that you will enjoy a delicious two-course camp oven themed dinner, followed up with freshly baked damper and billy tea.

Cruising on the Thomson River – there are a number of cruises on the Thomson River. Each offers a unique opportunity to experience the river and the outback.

  • Drover’s Sunset Cruise – the colours of the outback come alive at sunset as you glide down the Thomson River aboard the Longreach Explorer. The stop at Sunset Bend is the hands-down favourite, with endless photo opportunities. As the vibrant sunset colours fade into starlight, it is time to relax and enjoy two course camp oven dinner under the stars.
  • Explorer Cruise – basically an extension of the Drover’s Sunset Cruise. It starts at 2:15 pm and finishes at 8:30 pm and includes the Flood Plains Nature Safari.
  • Starlight’s Cruise Experience – cruise down the mighty Thomson River on a unique paddle wheeler and continue your outback experience with intimate performances and a two-course stockman’s dinner around the campfire.

The main season is run from April to October and booking in advance is strongly recommended, as local tours and attractions do reach capacity prior to the experience dates. Visit the Information Centre for more details.

Our Impression of Longreach

We have to admit Longreach pleasantly surprised us. We had not thought there was much to see and it was just going to be a short stop for us. But Longreach is where Queensland is at its most authentic, offering untouched wilderness and an opportunity to experience a number of Australian icons.

It is rich in history, from Aboriginal heritage, stockmen and pioneers to the birthplace of Australia’s most famous airline, Longreach has it all. Whether you are staying for a day or a week there is something for everyone to explore.

Safe Adventures!

Note: The information provided in this post was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service.