Having planned this trip west for some years now, and having to defer due to COVID border closures in 2021, we are excited to finally be on the road back to Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. Bookings for anywhere on Ningaloo Reef (e.g. Coral Bay or North West Cape) during whale shark season (April – July) are booked up a year in advance. So, it’s not a trip one can decide to take at the last minute.
From home on the Sunshine Coast we headed west to Chinchilla and Augathella, then north to Longreach and Camooweal, 2,080 kilometres.
Australia-wide there are lots of free roadside camps, made available by local shire councils to help decrease the road toll as well as divert travellers into small country towns to support the local economy. We use WikiCamps to find them.
Chinchilla Weir Camp
Our first overnight stop. Very quiet and shady, no power or water and the fee was by donation at the visitors centre.
Secound overnight stop was at Augathella Warrego River Camping Area. Across the road from the pub and next to the butcher. An honesty box on site askes for $5 per night.
We stayed a couple of days, just out of Longreach at the Apex Park Riverside Bush Camp. Next to the Longreach Waterhole. There is a great bike/walking path from here into the town of Longreach. Sadly we didn’t bring our bikes on this trip.
We have been to Longreach before (see blog from 2015). This time we visited the Powerhouse Museum.
The local swimming pool was filled from the artesian bore beside the pool. It took 3 days after filling for the bore water to cool before swimming was allowed. The water comes out of the bore at aprox 83oC.
Behind the Powerhouse Museum is Nogo Cottage museum, depicting settler’s life in the area during the 1930s.
We also re-visited the QANTAS Founders Museum.
Aircraft construction in the 1920’s was a woodworker’s world. In 1925 QANTAS had 5 mechanics and 8 woodworkers.
A 1970s cocktail bar on the upper deck of the QANTAS 747, for first class passengers only.
The Catalina flying boat holds the “world air service duration record, that has never been broken”. ‘What quickly became known as the ‘Double Sunrise’ operation, the unique flights were inaugurated in 1943 to re-establish Australia to England air links that had been cut due to the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in 1942’. For more fun facts about the Catalina, from Simple Flying, click here.
Other things around the QANTAS Founders Museum.
In the evening we came back for the Luminescent Show. It was amazing, so cleverly done. No photography was allowed during the show, but below are some photos prior to it starting.
“Our Light & Sound show (Luminescent Longreach) is a spectacular light and sound experience designed to delight, entertain, inform and move. Stand amongst iconic aircraft as world class projection mapping and 360 degree immersive sound brings the 100 year story of Qantas to life with the mighty Boeing 747 serving as a primary canvas.” QFM
Blue Heeler Hotel, Kynuna Qld.
From Longreach we headed north west, stopping at the Blue Heeler Hotel on the way. Apparently the two brolgas frequent the hotel.
We had intended to stay overnight in the caravan park at the Walkabout Creek Hotel, from the Crocodile Dundee movie. But we arrived at 2pm and it was closed from 1pm to 5pm, so we kept going and stayed at Cloncurry instead.
On the road
We intended to visit the Camooweal Caves in the Wiliyan-ngurru National park, but found the entire park was closed until July due to damage from recent monsoonal flooding. However we found a beautiful bush camp beside the Camooweal Billabong and enjoyed several days watching the abundant bird life.
The track into the camp becomes quite boggy if it has been raining. We were lucky it had dried out after recent flooding before we arrived.
Such beautiful colours during the sunsets.
Although there are not suppose to be crocodiles in the billabong, we did look twice on occasions.
There were several pairs of Whistling Kites. With a wingspan of 1.5 metres, they were majestic in the sky.
One surprised us by landing on a clump of earth in the Lagoon.
The Brolgas and White Necked Herons were much less majestic in the sky. But fun to watch.
The White Herons were very beautiful on take off and landing.
Other birds at the billabong
We took a drive out towards the Camooweal Caves National Park even though it was closed.
Around Town. The Camooweal Post Office is also the general store, its only opened 2 days a week. The pub is closed most of the day. The only other store was the roadhouse, a hive of activity.
Cheers til next time.
Helen & Tim