Camels, dinosaurs and the Tree of Knowledge: exploring central Queensland | Travel

While all eyes have been on the Commonwealth Games and the Gold Coast with its seashores and high-rises, a very totally different expertise of Queensland will be had by going inland.

The inside of the huge state is usually a daunting prospect. The distances between cities are enormous and the lodging and sights will be hit or miss.

But on a latest journey to central Queensland, I found what awaits is gorgeous and way more memorable than simply one other journey to the seashore.

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Our group flew into Longreach and from there, explored the inside of central western Queensland over 4 days by highway.


We meet Rob Chandler, the mayor of Barcaldine (or as everybody affectionately calls the city, Barcy), for lunch on the Commercial, the city’s solely Indigenous-owned pub.

A 2003 picture of the ‘Tree of Knowledge’, the 170-year-old ghost gum that used to sit down simply outdoors the Barcaldine railway station in Queensland. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP

It’s International Women’s Day and there’s a lunch gathering, with native girls listening to a speak about Florence Nightingale. I get pleasure from a pub meal of fish and chips (though we’re 440km from the coast, at Rockhampton) and after lunch we go to the city’s foremost declare to fame: the Tree of Knowledge, birthplace of the Labor get together and site for the primary Australian shearers’ strike.

Unfortunately the tree had seen higher days. In 2006, an area illegally poisoned it. Now it’s extra of a stump than a tree – though the city has made a beautiful monument to the tree within the type of an enormous wooden wind chime, which you’ll be able to hear down the quiet Main Street because the wind blows by means of city.

There are extra pubs than folks on Main Street – we’re spoilt for selection with 5 inside spitting distance.

Most of them have plaques out the entrance commentating the 2 or 3 times the pubs have burnt down and been rebuilt. Either the constructions are amazingly flammable or the city has been stuffed with arsonists. Whatever the case, Barcy suffers from a little bit of dangerous luck.

We select a pub that has a pale pin-up of Samantha Fox on the wall beside the pool desk and get some travellers (XXXX Gold, naturally) for the highway.

From Barcaldine, our actual outback journey begins once we are picked up in a mud-flecked automotive by station proprietor Deon Stent-Smith and pushed to his household’s sheep station, Shandonvale.


This a part of Australia has been in a seven-year drought and it exhibits – the highway (it’s a 90-minute drive to Deon’s property) is dusty and parched, though there are occasional inexperienced tufts from latest rain and mobs of kangaroos will be seen bouncing within the distance. Outside the air is heat and dry.

A view of Shandonvale station from the air

Shandonvale is a working outback station with snug lodging within the previous shearer’s quarters. Photograph: Courtney Atkinson

The circumstances are harsh however the lodging at Shandonvale actually isn’t. While it’s a working outback station, a lot care and a focus to element has been made to the hospitality aspect of the business: our rooms within the previous shearer’s quarters handle to be each fancy and down-to-earth.

In every shearer’s “cell”, there’s a distinctive bedhead constituted of wooden from the property. The view from my window is miles and miles of farmland.

The lodging would swimsuit teams, or households. As nicely as snug bedrooms, there’s a improbable kitchen, an old style bathtub and a hammock on the porch.

Deon and his spouse Lane ship us a breakfast basket of produce from their farm. There are contemporary eggs, milk from the property’s cows and home made bread. The bacon comes from pigs on the property and is cured by Deon.

All this for $170 an evening. It’s a discount – significantly when you think about that once you e book Shandonvale you have the entire of the lodging to you and your group.

For a bit further you may take a helicopter tour of property and past (we fly in the direction of Lake Galilee) or be the passenger in some hair-raising heli-mustering. In the small, windowless chopper, we fly near the bottom, herding teams of camels and sheep.

So what else is there to do on a sheep station? Plenty.

In our two nights and three days at Shandonvale, we spend time with animals that Lane has rescued – together with a really giant and pleasant child camel. We experience across the 15,000 acres in buggies chasing kangaroos, we use the rifle vary, have an after-dinner drink in entrance of an enormous bonfire, and take a “spa” within the platform that Deon has rigged up. The sizzling tub makes use of heat pure mineral springs from the property and is an ideal place to look at the solar go down over the river and sip champagne. Deon has additionally created a beautiful little bar/boatshed on the river and on our first evening we have cheese and wine there and watch the sundown.

Camel herding via helicopter at Shandonvale, Queensland.

Camel herding through helicopter at Shandonvale. Photograph: Courtney Atkinson

All meals is supplied on the station with Deon cooking wonderful meals from produce grown on the property. The couple have a dream of being virtually utterly self-sufficient, and are nicely on the best way.

It was with reluctance we depart Deon and Lane for Longreach. It has been a really enjoyable, very busy couple of days on the property, but the huge open areas are curiously enjoyable. When we get to Longreach, it looks as if a busy metropolis compared.

• Accommodation at Shandonvale station begins from $170 per particular person.


There’s lots to do in Longreach and tourism within the city is flourishing.

We keep on the homestead stables at Kinnon and Co lodging, which has been kitted out to nice impact in Australian outback gear.

A replica of the original Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service Ltd (Qantas) office in Longreach.

A duplicate of the unique Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service Ltd (Qantas) workplace in Longreach. Photograph: David Potts/AAP

The very cool and comfy rooms within the previous stables function corrugated iron and timber fittings, and there’s additionally an outside terrace tub. Kinnon and Co is couple of minutes stroll from the Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Qantas Founders Museum.

The outback vibe is accomplished once we hear the sounds close by of a rustic music concert. It’s nation and western star Lee Kernaghan doing a warm-up for his gig later that evening in honour of the Queen’s baton relay, which was passing by means of outback Queensland earlier than the Commonwealth Games.

But we have a date with the sundown. A neighborhood farmer referred to as Daniel Walker – who runs excursions of the realm below the title Outback Dan – kindly lets us go to his household’s previous homestead, which was in-built 1927 and has hosted Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

We drink glowing wine on the garden and watch that big sundown sink slowly over the horizon.


The subsequent day we depart Longreach for the city of Winton – round a two-hour drive. Winton is a good shock. It’s quirky and really photogenic. It resembles a film set – and the city itself has sturdy ties with film making (it hosts movie festivals and was used as a set for quite a few Australian movies together with The Proposition and Ivan Sen’s Mystery Road).

We go to an previous out of doors cinema and the improbable Art Deco pub the North Gregory resort, and from there it’s on to the Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum.

The museum was constructed after farmer David Elliot stumbled upon a leg bone from a Cretaceous sauropod whereas mustering sheep on his farm close to Winton in 1999. Land was donated the place the museum now sits, and a crew of workers and volunteers proceed to dig for and kind bones found on the property.

The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History near Winton in central western Queensland.

The Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum close to Winton is home to the world’s largest assortment of Australian fossils. Photograph: Leah Mclennan/AAP

The museum homes the world’s largest assortment of Australian fossils and is increasing its house and scope. It’s not simply an essential assortment, however interactive and enjoyable. You can discuss to technicians as they’re cleansing dinosaur bones a whole bunch of hundreds of thousands of years previous.

Getting there

Guardian Australia visited central Queensland as a visitor of Tourism and Events Queensland. Qantas flies on to Longreach from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns.

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