It’s been a year since I arrived back in Australia after my 32-year absence, well at least on a permanent basis. This will be my second Christmas in Queensland (where has the time gone?)
I realize that I’ve been fortunate to have Zach with me for the past few months, and planning for Sam to join us in mid-April during her break between the end of school and her next work term.
Zach is leaving to return to North America on December 17th to spend time over the holidays with my ex, Sam and his grandparents in Florida which will be awesome for him, albeit quiet for me here in Queensland.
Fortunately, it’s summertime so lots of pool time on the agenda for sure! 😎
Although to be fair I’ve also been looking further afield as there is so much of Australia yet to explore. With Australia’s vaccination rates continuing to climb and some borders reopening between states there are now some real options for exploration.
One place I’ve always wanted to visit is Longreach in Western Queensland (pop 3000) and is considered in Australian terms the Outback.
I’m sure you’re asking yourself why I’d want to venture on a 1215 km odyssey to the middle of nowhere…
Longreach is the home to a couple of cool things to see.
Firstly, it’s home to the QANTAS founders museum.
Australia’s national airline was founded in nearby Winton in 1920, with its name being the acronym for the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service, hence the name QANTAS. Apparently given the dry air is the perfect location for a significant collection of aircraft and memorabilia from the years of operation.
It’s hard to believe that it’s the third oldest airline in the world and now 101 years old and still going strong. It also has the reputation as one of the world’s safest airlines.
Second, and if you’re into the cowboys or stockman lifestyle (as they’re know in Australia) then the Stockman Hall of Fame is a must see. Yeah, generally I’m not, but if I make it to Longreach then will definitely check it out…cos as the saying goes “when in Rome”.
Another place to visit on my way out west is the town of Blackall. Yes,fortunately for me it’s on the road to Longreach.
The little town of Blackall is home to Queensland’s “Black Stump”…
I can just imagine you all scratching your head and thinking so what is the significance of a stump?
Well, way back in 1886 when much of Queensland was unexplored the government surveyors came to the small settlement of Blackall to begin the gargantuan task of surveying Western Queensland which at the time was completely uncharted territory.
The surveyors began by setting up their equipment on the most solid object they could find… which was a large, blackened tree stump that had been burned in a fire some years before.
And that is why everything west of Blackall is considered the Outback because it’s beyond the “Black Stump”… even today!
Many states in Australia have a version of the black stump as it served as the starting point for measuring and surveying the lands beyond where western civilization had resided during the 19th century.
The vast majority of Australia isn’t inhabited to this day mainly because of the isolation, enormous distances, lack of modern resources and the extremes in weather, all of which make much of the landscape uninhabitable…
The Australian landmass is a similar physical size to that of the continental United States. However, the stark difference is the population disparity.
The United States has some 330 million people versus Australia’s meagre 26 million.
Most Australians haven’t travelled within Australia to discover the many amazing things we have to offer locally. Generally, as a country, we’re much more likely to get on a plane and head to Europe, North America, or Asia than travel and explore our own country.
I suppose it’s the same for many countries but seems more so here in Australia.
One of the reasons is that if you’re going to spend your hard-earned cash, then it might as well be on an exotic locale and not something you would find in your backyard so to speak.
I totally get it!
This past year I’ve enjoyed the many National Parks and beaches within southeast Queensland but now feeling like it’s time to explore further afield.
Beyond Australia the next places on my list to explore are the Pacific Islands.
I must admit I’ve always had the romantic notion of visiting Tahiti and Bora Bora and snorkelling the coral reefs just offshore these exotic islands.
Of course, the downside is that visiting these isolated locations and communities comes with it a very steep price tag and so will need to save my pennies for some of these trips.
The biggest hurdle in my Pacific exploration quest is the always present siren song of Italy…
Hard to not want to go and visit a place that has such a special place in my heart. Decisions, decisions.
Yeah, I know…. all first world problems!
Until next week