Longreach might just be the heart of Queensland.
Sitting around the middle of the state, in the middle of the outback, Longreach has a rich Aboriginal history, is the home of Qantas, and is home to all kinds of unique experiences that give you a real insight into the heart and charm of the local people.
There’s something so special about this outback town, which you can instantly see by how affectionately the locals tell stories about their town. They are all so proud of their home, happy you’ve come to experience it, and a caring nature that is often lacking in the cities.
If you’re planning your visit to the Queensland Outback, make sure you check out some of our favourite things to do in Longreach.
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How to get to Longreach
There are a number of different ways to get to Longreach, depending on how you’re planning to travel. There are direct flights from both Brisbane and Townsville, on QantasLink of course, which take about two hours from either destination.
If you’re driving down, it’s a pretty long drive, sitting 1200 kilometres from Brisbane or 700 kilometres from Rockhampton, Townsville or Mount Isa, depending on what direction you’re travelling from. The roads are fairly flat and easy, but can be very popular with wildlife, especially at dawn and dusk, so make sure you drive carefully.
For a unique way to travel you can also jump on the Spirit of the Outback from Brisbane, Queensland Rail’s bi-weekly train service into Longreach. Travelling on the rail allows you to kick back and relax on your journey and watch the beautiful outback countryside fly by.
Check out the best places to stay in Longreach for your visit
1. Visit the Qantas Founders Museum
One of the absolute highlights to visiting Longreach is the Qantas Founders Museum. Celebrating their 100th birthday in 2020, Qantas was created in the outback towns of Longreach and Winton, when it was actually known as Q.A.N.T.A.S – Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Services.
The museum has several different displays to explore, as well as offering a guided tour of their aircraft park, where you can explore a Boeing 747, Boeing 707, Super Constellation and DC-3. They offer an incredible experience to walk on the wing of an aircraft as an add on to the guided tour, where you also get to sit in the pilot seat of the 747.
For an extra special experience, come back at night time for their Luminescent Longreach light and sound show, where you will be surrounded by light projections on the planes in the middle of the aircraft park. It’s a complete 360 degree experience, showing the 100 year story of Qantas through an encapsulating light show.
Definitely make sure you book in advance to do the guided airpark tour during your visit. Getting inside the aircrafts and learning more about their history is just fascinating. It’s when you’re standing underneath a Boeing 747 that you can really understand just how HUGE this plane really is.
2. Cruise along the Thomson River
Jump onboard Drover’s Sunset Cruise with Outback Aussie Tours to enjoy a leisurely sunset cruise down the Thomson River. It seems crazy that there is such an abundance of water in the river here, despite being in the middle of the barren outback, but here you go!
Grab a seat on the top level of the boat to experience 360 degree views over the river and the floodplains surrounding it. The cruise stops at Sunset Bend half way through the cruise, where you can jump off and watch the sunset from the high bank of the river. There are also plenty of cute little turtles that swim around at Sunset Bend, plenty of great photo opportunities.
The Sunset Cruise can often book out, so make sure you book in advance when you know the date you want to visit. The cruise goes for about an hour and a half and there is a bar on board if you want to grab a couple of drinks for your journey. Tickets cost $59 per adult, which also includes pick up from your accommodation or the Longreach Railway Station. Book the sunset cruise as a combination tour with the Smithy’s Outback Dinner and Show for the ultimate Longreach evening.
3. Dine at the ultimate outback dinner experience
After your sunset cruise make sure you’ve booked a ticket to Smithy’s Outback Dinner and Show. The dinner takes place right along the river bank, under the tall coolibah trees and the fairy lights draped above. It’s such a beautiful dinner setting, with shared tables spread out around the space and a small stage that looks like an outback shed at the front.
There is live entertainment on the stage from local performers in the area, while you are served a delicious two-course meal featuring camp oven style cuisine. It was such a great night, with great wine and beer and good company under the starry night sky.
The dinner experience only runs during the winter season, which is from 1st of April until 31st of October next year. You can also combine it with the sunset tour, to give you the ultimate outback experience during your visit.
4. Sleepover on a working outback station
While we were in Longreach we stayed at Camden Park Station in their outback bush camp. The camp is essentially a big wide open space, where you have plenty of space to yourself, have beautiful unobstructed views of the night sky and of course, get to meet Outback Dan, a legendary Longreach character. There is a toilet and a camp kitchen here, but the bush camp is definitely best for self-sufficient travellers.
Camden Park is still a working sheep and cattle station, although they have all kinds of different things happening at the moment as well as a special royal history. The Queen and Prince Philip actually visited Camden Park not once, but twice, and you can check out the iconic photos of the Queen with Dan’s grandfather right there on the station.
During your stay make sure you jump on one of Outback Dan’s tours of the property for a guided tour and drinks and nibbles at their favourite sunset spot on the station.
If you’re not travelling in a self-contained caravan and are looking for somewhere to stay, check out Saltbush Retreat’s rustic accommodation, right in the heart of town.
5. Take a photo with the iconic Longreach sign
You can’t miss the Longreach sign as you come into the town. It makes you feel like you’re entering the wild wild west, and is a perfect photo opportunity as you enter the outback. There’s an easy spot to park right in front of the sign, just make sure you bring a tripod.
6. Meet the locals at an unforgettable bush by night experience
Get to know some of the Longreach locals and here some of their stories about living in this unique part of the world. From the single house in town that is shown on the news every time there’s a flood, to the difference between the different types of kangaroos in the area, there is always a new story to share.
Outback Pioneers Bush by Night Experience is a great way to experience the character and charm of Longreach. The four hour tour includes watching the sun set over the outback, a two course dinner by the campfire, poems by a local known as Scotty the barefoot poet, as well as animal spotting in their open-top double decker bus to end the night.
BYO drinks for the evening, as well as some nibbles if you want a snack while the sun goes down, as well as a jacket or jumper for the evening, as it can get quick chilly after dark. The 2021 season of the Bush by Night Experience is from the 30th of March until the 31st of October, every Tuesday night at 5pm.
7. Wander around the town centre
Not only is the main street of Longreach incredibly cute, but it’s also home to lots of great spots to check out. The Station Store is one not to be missed, and you literally won’t be able to as it takes up plenty of real estate on the main street of Longreach. An incredible outback emporium, The Station Store has all kinds of unique bits and pieces, with everything from outback clothing, hat and boots, leatherwear, homewares, books and more. They have several different rooms to wander through as you shop, and support lots of local Aussie businesses from around the country.
Eagle Street, the main street of Longreach, is also home to many other boutiques and cute stores, with gifts and beautiful pieces for everyone to enjoy. For the more adventurous, if you venture down Galah Street you can add your bra to the “bra fence” across the road from the local RSL. The fence started as a way to raise awareness for breast cancer in the town, but has since become a hilarious highlight for visitors.
8. Check out the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame
The Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame is another highlight of any visit to Longreach. It has a whole range of galleries and display that share the stories and histories of the Aboriginal people who arrived here more than 40,000 years ago, the explorers that came through mapping out the land, and the extensive history of the stockmen who settled and worked in the area over the years. Unfortunately the museum is closed at the moment for renovations, so we weren’t able to visit, but it is due to reopen in April 2021.
9. Watch the sun set over the outback
Wherever you find yourself at the time the sun sets, as long as you’re outside you’re sure to have an epic light show as the sky lights up in beautiful shades of orange, pink and yellow. There’s just something about the sunset in the outback that is so unique and beautiful, absolutely everyone needs to witness it at least once.
In Longreach some of the best places to see the sunset is on the Outback Pioneers Bush by Night Experience – they take you to their special sunset spot, Camden Park Station or the Captain Starlight’s Lookout.
10. Check out the historic Railway Station
Right in the heart of the town, the Longreach Railway Station was built from 1887 to 1916 and was originally the main train station in town. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register in 2005 and today is where the Spirit of the Outback train arrives and departs from twice a week. Such a pretty historical building, definitely worth a quick photo stop.
Best time to visit Longreach
During the winter months, from approximately the beginning of April until the end of October is the best time to visit Longreach. The winter months are a little cooler during the day, making conditions better for exploring and walking around, while still offering lovely sunny days.
In the summer time a lot of the different tour companies and businesses shut down, as they are not viable during the extremely hot months, so you’ll also be limited as to what experiences you can check out if you visit from November to March. If there’s something in particular you’re coming to Longreach to see or experience, make sure you check the seasonality with the company to make sure you don’t miss out.
While you’re in Outback Queensland, make sure you also check out Winton which is only two hours down the road. Another great outback town with a deep dinosaur history, as well as epic national parks and some fantastic festivals throughout the year.