This is where Carlene and I have spent the past few days: Longreach in Outback Queensland. Just in case you may not have read my previous Blogs ... we were there donating an original piece of John Dixon's Air Hawk artwork for the opening of The Royal Flying Doctor Service's exhibition at The Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame on Saturday May 5th (2012). If you have never been to Longreach, let me heartily endorse the town! No clouds in the sky, no traffic lights, no McDonald's Restaurants or Kentucky Fried Chicken (one Eagle Boys was the only fast food outlet we came across!) ... a marvelous trip into time, where the locals seem to know each other and are always up for a bit of a chat. Look, when you are next travelling to Longreach (and everyone must at least once in their lifetime), make sure you stay at the Abajaz Motor Inn (click here for a link). We were made to feel wonderfully welcome by our hosts Liane Michell and Rodd Halkett. Even even though everything in town seemed to be within less than an hour's walking distance (and we are slow walkers!), it was never too much trouble for Rodd to take time out from his washing chores to pick us up from the Airport on Friday afternoon (yes, we flew in) or drop us off into the middle of town (on more than one occasion). This is not a paid advertisement...!!
Besides the opening of the Royal Flying Doctor Service's Exhibition on Saturday afternoon, the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame also hosted the 22nd Annual Drover's Reunion over the whole weekend. For a 'city-slicker' I found this fascinating, as we had an opportunity to watch some of the Drovers engaged in many competitions with each other! While we were enjoying our lunch, there was a competition to see which Drover was first to light a fire and boil the billy! After lunch, we saw first-hand the fierce competition in making Damper. To the left is a picture of Carlene hoping to pick up some worthwhile tips in this unique Aussie tucker! Our pick for the winner? Drover Mick Gallagher (pictured below)! Although there was opportunity to talk to a lot of the 'Old Timers', we didn't take the chance to ask Mick any more about himself. Of other things like where he now lives, where he used to Drove, how often he manages to get to Longreach and how many times he has been to the annual Get-Togethers (and all manner of other questions that just didn't eventuate last Saturday afternoon)!! So, if you ever see Mick, please let him know we want to know these things!!
Here is what John Dixon's original AIR HAWK artwork looks like on closer inspection. I know I have shown this art in a previous posting, but this photograph illustrates a little more clearly some of the no-bleed opaque white John Dixon used on correcting and finishing his work. As the artwork was donated for posterity on the Friday (i.e. the DAY BEFORE the Exhibition opened!) there was no time for the Curator to label the item. Hopefully, that will take place sometime in the future ...
Of course, there is more to Longreach than just The Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame! On Sunday, just before our flight home, Carlene and I spent some time looking over The QANTAS Founders Museum. ThisMuseum, based around the original heritage-listed 1922 Hanger and actual aircraft, is dedicated to the story of Qantas and the men of vision who saw the potential in air travel as a means of overcoming the problems of long distance travel in the Australian Outback. I found it a most inspiring exhibition - the dreamers who brought their visions to a reality! Just before we left Longreach and flew back home, so inspired was I, that I decided to donate a copy of John Dixon, Air Hawk and the Flying Doctor to the Qantas Founders Museum's Library ...