In a year that has thrown just about everything at us, droughts, fires and COVID, many of us are suffering in one way or another. The Isolation & separation from loved ones grinding away until Zoom, What’s App, or some other form of social media has provided a small window to say hi or blow a kiss to loved ones in Residential and aged care, or wave to the Grand Kids and listened intently about all the things they wanted to share with you.
In my Business – that of a retail personal travel manager, I have watched dreams fall apart for all of my clients as global borders closed, planes grounded, empty ships sent out to sea, and each and everyone of us had our long awaited holidays cancelled. Those holiday dreams suddenly becoming nightmares that relied on good stewardship by your Travel Manager to navigate the labyrinth of COVID refund policies. I likened it to putting the car in reverse on March 3rd and eventually back into drive on August the 3rd….
On this day we set out on a much needed break at the time unaware of the experiences we would have. We packed our Mazda 6 wagon and headed off on our first road trip to the Queensland Outback. We took the long way around travelling first to Bundaberg to pick up one of my favourite Bundy Rum liqueurs. Then heading West out via Miriamvale and cross country to Barcaldine. Heading out of Barcaldine we came across the Welcoming sign along the Matilda way. I remember thinking when I got out of the car cranky, and tired
It’s so flat, we’ve brought the wrong clothes, the car is filthy already. Did we need to have a 4WD for it seemed every car on the road was a 4WD. Nothing seemed right.
The further West we got it seemed liked the stars were getting lower until we reached Longreach and the Thomson River. It was here we felt we could reach out and touch them. The viewing was amazing and there for everyone.
The town folk of Longreach were very proud of their newly rebuilt Waltzing Matilda Centre which was one of the few museum attractions that we were able to get into due to COVID restrictions. We learned very quickly we should have pre booked with waiting lists up to 2 days.
The very popular Drovers sunset cruise with Smithy’s Outback dinner show or their 2 hr afternoon show was a 3 day wait to get on.
The Paddlesteamer dinner cruise was not operating due to COVID restrictions but we were reliably informed it would reopen in April next year and from all accounts is already nearly fully booked for that month. In the meantime we managed to look over the Stage coach station and memorabilia downtown. We enjoyed Longreach and extended a day just to wander the town. This Outback Country life was like a health Elixir. No rushing around, beautiful weather, history on every corner.
Our next stop was WINTON which had been on my bucket list since I read about the discovery of more Dinosaur Fossils in the area. There were two trips on offer, The Dinosaur Stampede and Lark Quarry Conservation Park or the one we decided on Australian Age of Dinosaurs Musuem which housed the the world’ largest collection of Fossils. We drove up to Bladensburg National Park approx 30 minutes out of Winton. Here we were provided with incredible scenery (it reminded me somewhat of a scaled down Kings Canyon). Our pass included a 20 minute overview in the fossil preparation room, before an audiovisual 20 minute brief, then onward by a people mover mini train up to the top where an extensive boardwalk project had been completed. Here you could look out for miles and imagine the Dinosaurs roaming this area over 95 million years ago. We were very pleased we chose this tour.
I saw a new building being constructed at the top which should be finished mid next year it will include more exhibits, star gazing tours and a restaurant. I hope to be back for this.
Now totally relaxed we extended our stay in this town. We had thought there was very little to do here but yet there was much going on around us. I found a shoe shop that was selling up. Shoes for $20-now that really made my day…
But best of all was talking to the true locals- the legends. The North Gregory Hotel in downtown Winton was the place to be at 4.30pm. YES. it was evident that town had been affected by drought, and lack of Tourism earlier on in the year and there was much to be done to restore the place to prepare for World tourism in the coming years. But we loved it anyway. It was like stepping back into the 50’s
…and so it was time to turn around. Without a 4WD the road to Birdsville was not an option. Our journey home was delightful. Rejuvenated and motivated again to get through the tough times and to start planning a trip to the QLD Outback.
On my return to the Gold Coast I didn’t want to wash the car I wanted it to stay dirty as a reminder of the extraordinary trip we had.
So…You can imagine what I thought when I received an email from APT offering a new Outback program for 2021. This new 9 day private charter has 4 mid year departures in 2021 on offer. Singles are fully booked already but we do have a share space available for a June departure.
This trip is a wonderful opportunity to experience some of the best the Queensland Outback can offer with the added bonus of Cape York, and a wonderful wind down in Port Douglas and Hamilton Island. I look forward to sharing more of my citygirl experiences in my next blog. In search of Sapphires from Emerald to the Gemfields ….now that was an eye opener. You can get me on 0488 001 193 or email [email protected]