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If you’re looking for another small town in Outback Queensland to get off the beaten path in, then you may want to cast your eyes towards Longreach.
Known for its aviation history, this tiny town with less than 3,500 residents packs a punch. It may be small, but there are plenty of things to do in Longreach that make it worthy of a visit.
What makes a trip to Longreach worth it, is that you can easily reach other nearby towns and attractions. You can incorporate a solar gazing experience that will blow your mind at the Cosmos Centre in Charleville and chase dinosaurs and sing Waltzing Matilda in Winton, for example.
Longreach will amaze and surprise you. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit, even if we did visit during a drought!
Apart from seeing the dry as a bone earth, the drought did not affect our trip at all. We still saw plenty of kangaroos and emus, beautiful scenery and met many wonderful locals.
Here’s what to do in Longreach, Outback Queensland for anyone thinking of making a stop here.
- Things to Do in Longreach
- 1. Learn About Aviation at The Qantas Founders Museum
- 2. Visit Australian Stockmen’s Hall of Fame
- 3. Take A Camden Park Station Sunset Tour
- 4. Go On A Cobb & Co Stagecoach Ride
- 5. Relax On A Starlight’s Cruise Experience
- 6. See The Outback Stockman’s Show
- 7. Enjoy Dinner at Smithy's Outback Dinner
- 8. Go Back To School at Longreach School of Distance Education
- 9. Explore the Longreach Powerhouse Museum
- 10. Stay At Albert Park Motor Inn
- 11. Ride the Spirit of the Outback Train
- 12. Take The Nogo Station Experience
- 13. Admire Views from Captain Starlight's Lookout
- 14. Shop For Gifts on Eagle Street
- 15. Stay in unique Longreach accommodation
- Final Thoughts
- More Outback Queensland Travel Tips
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Things to Do in Longreach
1. Learn About Aviation at The Qantas Founders Museum
In case you didn’t know, Longreach was where Qantas began back in 1920. We have been Qantas frequent flyers forever, and are big fans of the airline so it was a treat to learn more about how this great Australian company was started here in the Outback heartland.
Back in the early 1900s Outback communities were truly isolated and any contact with the outside world was limited and took days of traveling on wild outback roads.
Hudson Fysch and Paul McGinness both pilots during World War I had realised how needed an airline service was when they made an arduous fifty-one day, 2179km road trip in a Ford Model T.
It nearly failed many times, but the founders dug deep into their creative and entrepreneurial sides to innovate and find the funding they needed to grow it into the company it is today.
Visiting this museum helps you to get to know the soul of this iconic Aussie brand and to see the Australian grit behind it that has been part of our culture since white people arrived to try and tame this harsh and unforgiving land.
A grit many in Longreach are currently digging down to find and use for innovation.
I loved it.
You can take a guided tour of the aircraft outside, which lets you know the significance of each plane and how each part of the plane helps keep the plane up and safe.
The Jet Tour is 90 minutes and takes you behind the scenes on their two jet aircraft, the Boeing 747 and 707. It’s definitely something to add to your Outback Queensland itinerary!
Since I’ve travelled in plenty of Qantas planes including business class, and hung in the cockpit before, this wasn’t so exciting to me.
I did really enjoy walking through the old Boeing 707, which was turned into a private jet and once owned by Michael Jackson.
Standing within the casing of a jet engine was also pretty cool (never do this elsewhere!).
The Qantas Founders Museum is not affiliated with Qantas, but was established in 1996 by a not-for-profit community organisation to tell the story of the airline and preserve its heritage.
For a unique experience in Longreach, check out a Quantas 747 wing walk experience!
2. Visit Australian Stockmen’s Hall of Fame
What I really connected to in this museum was how much the culture of White Australia grew from the Outback and the stockman. The jackeroos and jillaroos and how they tried their best to tame a wild land.
This region has been the backbone of growth in Australia for over a hundred years.
It was fascinating to learn more of the story as you wandered through the exhibits. I recommend first watching the movie to give you a great perspective and overview of the stockman’s story.
The girls had fun moving from exhibit to exhibit and learning as best they could through the interactive displays.
Their incessant questioning (a good thing) made it difficult for me to concentrate and get the most out of it as I could. But I still enjoyed it and loved their enthusiasm.
There is a lot of reading here so be prepared for that. It can get a little tiring by the end of it. We were out of season for the dinner and show, but it’s a noted experience at the museum.
The Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame is a little on the expensive side and I’d say overpriced for what you get. But, if you’re mad on this sort of thing, it might just be worth it to you.
3. Take A Camden Park Station Sunset Tour
This was our favourite thing to do in Longreach. I loved this experience of visiting a cattle station, which seems bizarre as there were no cattle or working sheep.
It was awesome to meet James Walker and his family to learn about resilience, hope, and innovation.
The spirit that shaped so many incredible things about our country and culture.
Camden Park Station is 15km out of Longreach and is one of the older cattle stations in the area. It’s quite well-known having had the Prince of Wales and Camilla visit in 2012. Queen Elizabeth also visited and enjoyed tea and scones with James’ grandfather in 1970.
James is only in his early thirties and has taken over management of the 80,000 acres of their sheep and cattle station.
Understanding the issue farmers face out here, he works in creative ways to ensure has farm stays afloat during drought and destocking.
James has attended farming seminars in London to learn innovative ways to irrigate and farm so he can return and implement and teach to the farmer’s in this region.
He’s also diving into the online world to create programs to sell, and now runs the cattle station sunset tours.
Even though the livestock was missing, we still got a tour of the property and he explained how everything works.
We all even got to pretend to be cows and he mustered us so we could see how they did it! Our girls had a ball because his girls came out to play with them, which meant we could enjoy our selves a little more.
At the end of the tour we went to sit up near the Artesian bore for sunset. It was so still and quiet.
James told me of his plans to build a luxury farm stay overlooking the water to make use of the stunning sunset views and serenity. I confirmed that his plans were a winner!
It was so tranquil. I felt like I was back in Africa, with the endless plains in front of me and a fiery red setting sun.
We enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine and some nibbles as part of the tour, whilst the kids enjoyed time with their new friends.
Sitting in my home now and writing this, I have a longing to see that sunset again with a glass of wine and the sweet taste of freedom on the open road.
Jump on the Camden Park sunset station tour with Outback Aussie Tours and visit James and his family. Smithy, the tour owner, was very friendly and informative.
4. Go On A Cobb & Co Stagecoach Ride
Cobb & Co were the outback pioneers of stagecoach travel and mail services throughout Australia, and re-enacting this in a restored stagecoach on the Cobb & Co Stagecoach Experience along a stretch of the original Longreach-Windorah mail route was a lot of fun.
After the ride, slow down with a traditional smoko (the original Aussie tea break), and a classic Australian movie in retro cinema seats or view the Harry Redford Old Time Tent Show – Aussie outback humour at its best – Kalyra and I couldn’t stop laughing.
Click play to see more of the Cobb & Co stagecoach ride. What about that white horse!
5. Relax On A Starlight’s Cruise Experience
We enjoyed a lovely sunset cruise on the Thomson River followed by dinner around the campfire on the banks of the river.
On the menu: beef stew, apple pie and custard, billy tea & damper, and some bush poetry. What a combination!
To cap off the night, we learned about Harry Redford, otherwise known as Captain Starlight, a hustler who stole over a thousand cattle from Bowen Downs and ran it all the way to South Australia.
We learned about all this in the new Starlight’s Spectacular Sound & Light Show. It was a great family evening.
6. See The Outback Stockman’s Show
Between April and October, you can catch the Outback Stockman’s Show, which tells the story of real life stockmen and women who work on the land.
Be entertained by a singing cowboy on horseback and if you’re lucky like Caz, you’ll be pulled out of the crowd to race a horse in shuttle sprints.
Come and meet a real Stockman and the kids will love meeting his animals after the show, and to satisfy your hunger a spit roast meats and vegetable dinner is on the menu – this is how they entertain you in Outback Queensland!
7. Enjoy Dinner at Smithy’s Outback Dinner
Another thing to do in Longreach at night is to enjoy dining under the stars next to the Thomson River at Smithy’s Outback Diner.
You’ll be served a two-course, BBQ themed dinner with freshly baked damper and billy tea.
To make the evening more magical, there is a live outback performer who shares songs and stories.
8. Go Back To School at Longreach School of Distance Education
The thought of going back to school fills most adults with nightmares, but the Longreach School of Distance Education is actually a very unique.
Considered home to the worlds largest classrooms, Longreach school is somewhat of a pioneer when it comes to education. Distance education was a norm here in the expansive outback desert, but not something the rest of the world was aware of (well, until COVID19).
Learn about how technology reaches far and wide, and how their innovative and unique attitude towards education helps to offer education to all.
You can visit via a guided tour, but note that the school often closes during term time.
9. Explore the Longreach Powerhouse Museum
Fancy stepping back in time? In the outback, time seems to stand still and technology isn’t always as advanced as it is in urban areas (especially when it comes to the internet!).
The Longreach Powerhouse Museum is a fascinating place that tells the story of the former electrical industry in the Outback.
Houses inside a listed Power Station building, this historical landmark showcases a wide collection of memorabilia that tell of Longreach’s history before technology boomed.
10. Stay At Albert Park Motor Inn
The Albert Park Motor Inn is part of the Qantas line of motels and offers affordable and comfortable accommodation in the heart of Longreach, just a stone’s throw from the top attractions in the town.
It offers ground level rooms, ideal for those with mobility issues, as well as undercover parking, air conditioning, an outdoor swimming pool, and laundry facilities.
It’s the ideal place to stay for those traveling on a budget and need somewhere cozy and comfortable.
11. Ride the Spirit of the Outback Train
If you’re not driving, then a great way to reach Longreach is via the Spirit of the Outback train journey.
This captivating 1,300 km journey offers an unparalleled glimpse into the rich history and traditions of early Australia.
Not only do you get to witness the ever-changing landscapes, from the bustling cityscape of Brisbane to the vast outback plains, and discover the charm of small towns along the way, but you also get to learn about the pioneers and indigineous cultures along the way.
The train runs from Brisbane to Longreach on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and returns from Longreach to Brisbane on Mondays and Thursdays. You can book tickets and see train times via Queensland Rail.
For a shorter Outback train experience you can take the Great Darr River Rail Run and discover the incredible landscapes of the Longreach. Soak up the atmosphere and savour the experience over a boiled billy at Darr River. See rates and availability here.
12. Take The Nogo Station Experience
Another great way to explore the landscape of Longreach is on The Nogo Station tour.
From the moment you step onto the station, you’ll be transported to an era of resilience and adventure. You’ll then board a double-decker bus, which takes you on a safari of the vast plains, past the picturesque Thomson River and to spot native wildlife such as wallabies, kangaroos and camels.
The experience, operated by the Kinnon family, ends with a Captain Starlight’s Camp dinner under the twinkling stars.
This is a great half-day activity to get to know the landscape, the history, and the secrets of caring for the land passed down through generations.
13. Admire Views from Captain Starlight’s Lookout
Another viewpoint worth checking out is Captain Starlight’s Lookout, which is a small hill with boulders on top, that offers unparalleled views of the desert landscape beyond.
It’s a great place to go to catch a sunset, as the sun’s haze lights up the landscape and makes it look ethereal.
It’s also when the native kangaroos are most active and you can see them in large numbers from here.
14. Shop For Gifts on Eagle Street
If you want to pick up some souvenirs to take home, check out the artisans and boutiques along Eagle Street.
Don’t miss the roundabout that connects to the A2, where you will spot a mural dedicated to the drovers of Longreach. The mural was erected in 2008 and was created by sculpturist John Underwood for the Brisbane World Expo ‘88.
15. Stay in unique Longreach accommodation
While in Longreach why not stay in some unique Outback Queensland accommodation? Here are a few fun ones!
- Saltbush Retreat’s rustic but beautiful accommodation reflects the unique textures and tones of Outback Queensland. See rates and availability here
- The Staging Post is a boutique heritage-themed accommodation inspired by the style of the pioneer era and by the stagecoach journeys that linked Longreach with the outside world. Situated in the heritage heart of town, you’ll be living and dreaming the outback story. See rates and availability here.
- Enjoy luxury glamping at Mitchell Grass Retreat. Take in stunning views from your canvas tent complete with power, air conditioning, beautiful ensuite and outdoor deck. Enjoy a walk through surrounding bushland, kayak the Thomson River and take time out for yourself. See rates and availability here
I first heard of Longreach QLD when one of my oldest friends from Uni moved there. She grew up on the coast, so I found it strange when she told me how much she loved Longreach.
As I’d had no real experience of the Outback, I couldn’t understand why anyone from the coast would love living in the dry, dusty Outback.
I was keen to check this out, and of course, as Murphy’s Law would have it, my friend moved back to the Coast not all that long before we arrived!
But I can see why she really misses Longreach and why she loved it so much. I could see how living in the Outback can create that kind of longing when you leave…
You just have to experience it for yourself to understand it, I guess.
More Outback Queensland Travel Tips
Need more inspiration for your trip to Outback Queensland? Here are some other helpful guides..
- Why Outback Queensland is an enriching road trip destination for families
- 2 week Outback Queensland road trip itinerary
- Tips for an Outback Queensland Road Trip with Kids
- 50 Stunning and adventurous things to do in Queensland
- 15 Best Road trips in Australia
- Unique Things to do in Longreach, Queensland
- Contemplating the Cosmos at Charleville
- Places to visit in Queensland
- Guide to driving the Savannah Way
- Why Winton is our favourite outback town
- Is Boodjamulla National Park Queensland’s best kept secret?
- Introducing the Undara Lava Tubes
- Going underground in Mount Isa
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Have you visited Longreach in Outback Queensland? Share any tips in the comments below.