QLD: Western Queensland
"It's A Long Way Out Here Mate!"
Roma to Birdsville is a Thousand Kilometres! A Long Way!
Now that is the easy part - as the crow flies! To drive, by regular road anyway, from Roma to Birdsville will take a full 24 hour day as it is over 1600 kilometres, up to Longreach and across and down again! Take plenty of water and provisions because it is a long way from anywhere - this is after all Western Queensland!
The town gained its name long reach or stretch of the Thomson River. The township is the largest in Central Queensland and is about six hundred and seventy kilometres west from Rockhampton, and is on the Landsborough Highway in the heartland of Queensland en-route to Mount Isa. It has a long and interspersed history, with the river being named after Edward Thomson as early as 1847. However it was not until 1860 that William Landsborough and Nat Buchanan saw the potential of the sweeping plains that in good years are prolific in Mitchell Grass, Borree and Gidyea Scrub and Flinders Grass as grazing land for cattle. With the completion of the railway line to Longreach in 1892 the region moved ahead quickly.
The town became famous because it is where the first Qantas Commercial Flight took off from in 1921. A short time later it was home to an aircraft manufacturing plant. The Qantas Museum stands there today and you can actually hope aboard a decommissioned Jumbo, this being Qantas' first Boeing 707, which pioneered the flying Kangaroo route to the USA. They even let you step right into the cockpit and see all the panels, levers and buttons that control the aircraft.
Longreach was also the town that was host to the operation of the Worlds first Flying Doctor Service, established in 1959. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited Longreach in 1988 to open The Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame which is a major attraction for visitors to the town and its regular events highlighting bush life and culture draws many to this historical outback regional centre.
The Longreach School of Distance Education is also an interesting place to visit where one of the largest classrooms in the world can be seen. A guided tour includes walk through the school and the observation of a lesson in progress.
There are a number of fun things to do in Longreach including a visit to Banjo's Outback Theatre and the Longreach Arts and Cultural Centre. The famous Australian transport name of Cobb and Co. runs a 'back to the past' coach ride right through the streets of Longreach. At dusk jump on a sunset river cruise on the Thomson River or go on a camp oven dinner with that great country hospitality.
Longreach is situated in Australia's outback heartland yet still offers the comforts of home making this is a desirable and peaceful place to visit. It has a commercial passenger airport as well as passenger train and coach services. Meet the locals by staying in an old country pub or go camping and spend a night under the stars which seem to hover just above your head. There is good accommodation and dining facilities along with the interesting places to visit. It gets as hot as 37 degrees average in summer and as cold as 8 degrees average in winter with its wet season experienced in the summer months of over 200mm.