After my Cattle Station housesit finished I met a friend in Winton and we travelled the Longreach area together. As she had a car it made it easier to get around and I was able to do a couple of side trips that I probably wouldn’t have done in Rhonda as it would have been more difficult and slower.
Ilfracombe – About 28 kilometres east of Longreach this was an interesting little town. It has the “Machinery Mile”, a line up of old restored machinery as you enter town culminating in a museum. It was well done and certainly eye catching. Quenton Bryce, who was a Queensland Governor and went on to become Governor General of Australia was born here. The Wellshot Hotel has a great and busy Coffee Shop open onto the street (Highway) which caters for passing trade when it is too early to indulge in alcohol. The walls of the hotel contain plenty of memorabilia to keep your attention as well. There is also the heritage listed Langenbaker House which is over 100 years old and in its original condition.
Isisford – Due south of Ilfracombe is the small town of Isisford on the Barcoo River. It is another of those neat towns which probably hasn’t changed much in the past 100 years. There are a number of old buildings in town (now empty) with story boards out the front giving the buildings history and use. The town was originally known as Whittown. Its’ main tourist attraction nowadays is the Outer Barcoo Interpretive Centre but unfortunately this was closed due to Covid. The Golden West Hotel is the only remaining hotel still to be operating of the original 4 hotels and served a good lunch and cold beers.
Emmet – This was a railway siding and once a bustling depot where people from the local properties collected their stores and mail. The General Store, which still operates was closed I guess because it was the weekend.
Yaraka – This was one of those little gems of places that you stumble across every now and then. The town was officially founded when the rail line opened up in 1917. It was so named after the indigenous name for the white spear grass which grows in the district. The area was part of the giant Milo sheep station located on the south side of the Yang Yang Ranges. Mount Slowcombe is situated a short drive away and the Yaraka Hotel provides a mini bus tour from the hotel to watch the sunset each evening. It is free, albeit a donation to the RFDS, and you congregate in the bar for a 5.30pm departure, getting back by 7.30pm. They supply buckets of ice to keep your takeaway beers cold and you can preorder dinner so it is ready on your return. Mount Slowcombe gives a panoramic view of the countryside and is a special place to spend the days end. There is also a lookout on the eastern side with 2 flag poles where they hold the annual Anzac dawn service. There were only 6 of us on the tour and we had a running commentary from the publican giving a history of the area and his passion about the continuation of sheep farming. The hotel had a couple of relief publicans in preparation for the owners heading off for a break and they were a livewire couple who made the night so enjoyable. Good old country hospitality to the fore. They even let me watch the AFL on TV when the locals preferred the Rugby League. There were a couple of resident emus who patrol the streets of Yaraka and the pub has to have a chain across the entry door to keep them from eating customers food or taking a sip of your beer when you turn your head. Most intriguing. The old Railway Station houses some memorabilia from yesteryear and is worth looking at.
Windorah – Yaraka to Windorah was not the best road in places but fairly well maintained along most of it. Windorah had little to offer the visitor. The visitors centre and adjacent museum were closed but the town itself was neat and the service station provided good freshly made sandwiches and good service. On the edge of town are 4 satellite dishes housing solar panels that provide the towns daytime electricity needs.
Jundah – This was a strange little town and is the administration centre of the Baroo Shire. They will open the museum if you ask and it was a good little museum. When we enquired about the Settlers Nature Drive they printed off a 15 page color booklet. This drive starts at the Thompson River as you come into town and follows along the bank for some way before doing a loop along farming property boundary fences until you get back onto the Quilpie road. It said in the blurb that it was 7km long but it felt about three times that distance. It was a bit bizarre but the drive did take you through a number of different types of vegetation and there were some 38 different types of tree varieties along the way that were all signposted for easy identification.
Stonehenge – Named when the area was a safe crossing area for bullock teams. A stone fortress was built for the bullock drivers to overnight in, and when the building fell into ruins the area became known as Stonehenge. We called into the hotel but didn’t have a beer as the local copper was sitting out front in the beer garden talking to the publican. To the north of town there is an area where there are thousands of small rocks and you are able to put your name on one and leave it as some kind of stone address book.