Tom & Matt’s Four-State Road Trip
Day 4 — Saturday, 30th July, 2011 — Rest Day in Longreach, Qld

 

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Resting on a Rest Day

We felt pretty good when we arrived in Longreach last night but, after three days of driving (three-and-a-bit for me) and with the knowledge that we didn’t have to go anywhere today, Matt and I have both kinda dropped our bundle today. Matt even had a little zizz this afternoon. I didn’t, because I was busy doing something for someone else’s web site (such devotion to duty!) but felt as if I could have done so. I’m glad we planned a rest day every now and then on this trip!

Longreach is certainly a busy town — particularly when comparted with the other Queensland towns we have seen in over the last couple of days. The main street has traffic that seems to be constantly on the move, and the highway does not go along the main street (in case you were wondering). The noise of last night’s hotel strip club went on until well after midnight, though (thankfully) the voice of the raucous compare over the P A system stopped a bit before midnight. I imagine there may have been a few sore heads this morning.

Qantas Museum 

Our main activity today was to visit the Qantas museum this morning. It is situated at the Longreach Airport and consists of a number of sections. The QANTAS Founders Outback Museum (to give it its full title) is a relatively recent enterprise, the first stage of which was opened in only 1996 in the original Qantas hanger (see the second picture below).

Stage 2 Is the building that houses the present museum, restaurant and gift shop and the picture at left shows the glass doors of that building. It was opened by Peter Beatty when he was Premier of Queensland (forgotten the year but it must have been in the naughties).

Stage 3, perhaps 100 metres away, has a couple of Boeing aircraft (open for inspection), a 707 and a 747. Then there are plans for a further building (Stage 4) to be erected beyond the aircraft at some time in the future. The whole project is managed by a nonprofit body that is entirely independent of Qantas itself, although it receives a lot of positive assistance from Qantas. The Boeing 747, for instance, is worth several million dollars but was donated by Qantas to the museum.

 

Original Qantas hanger 

 

This is the original Qantas hanger. For a significant part of its life, it was used not just for storing aircraft but for actually building them as Qantas built de Havilland DH50 aircraft (a bi-plane) under license, adaptiong their design to better suit Queensland conditions.

The building was not open to us as it is undergoing extensive restoration and will, some time in the near future, be dedicated to displaying the history of aircraft manufacture on the site.

 

Boeing 747 

 

 

This Boeing 747 is the most obvious feature of the museum as one drives past. It is the genuine article, though it is no longer air-worthy as many changes have been made to its structure for the purposes of the museum (installation of air conditioning and lighting, placement of instructive video screens, opening up of floor and wall panelling to display the innards, etc.).

 

747 Wheels 

 

We paid our money and were given a “boarding pass” (looking very much like the real thing) to join a guided tour, entitled Secrets of the 747. We were assembled (along with the 25-30 other people in the tour) under the nose of the aircraft and close to the front landing gear.

Those tyres are worth — so we are told — several thousand dollars each. They are leased out by Dunlop and are frequently re-treaded before being returned to Dunlop. We were told that, even if all the rubber tread was removed, the tyres would still retain their pressure. In this display, the aircraft is supported by those blue steel structures you can see between the tyres so that these tyres no longer carry any weight.

 

Matt inside engine 

 

 

After explanations for all the little doo-dads that stick out from the plane (air-speed sensors, storm sensors, grey water expulsion spouts etc.,) we were shown one of the four Rolls Royce engines and given the rare opportunity (if we wanted it) to stand inside an engine. Here is Matt doing just that. Don’t you just love the hat?

Each engine werighs over 6,000 kg (over 6 imperial tons) and costs $6,500,00 (about £4,350,000) when new.

 

747 Tail 

I didn’t take any photos inside the aircraft (after all, most of you have seen rows of aircraft seats before, haven’t you?) but we were also shown where the flight recorder — known as a black box but actually bright orange in colour so it can be easily found — is stored at the rear of the tourist class cabin. That’s the bit of the plane that hits the ground last in a crash.

Here is the tail. It is enclosed in scaffolding because they are in the middle of repainting it. Let me give you an idea of its size. It required two semitrailers (articulated lorries) to bring just the scaffolding from Brisbane. The red paint covers an area twice the size of a football pitch (they didn’t say which code) and the museum volunteers who will paint it will do so over a period of several days.

While we were there we saw people who were already scrubbing the existing paint so that the new paint would key into it well.

 

Model Qantas planes 

 

 

When we had finished the 747 tour (we didn’t pay the extra to have a similar tour of the nearby 707) we went to the museum itself. I didn’t take any more photos than this one as this blog is about our travels, not the Qantas museum. If you want to know more about it, follow the link I have given beside the first picture above. These are just three model Qantas planes that were in a little theatrette and I thought they looked cute. The largest of them would be about a metre-and-a-half long (say about five feet long).

 

We were planning to visit the Stockman’s Hall of Fame (virtually opposite the Qantas museum) but, by the time we had finished the morning tour, we both felt we were all museumed out for the time being. That will have to wait for another trip.

In the meantime, Matt has uploaded his video for yesterday and I have provided a link to it on the Day 3 page.

Tomorrow we set out for Mount Isa. According to the map it is about 650 km (about 400 miles), marginally our longest day yet if you ignore the extra bits we were obliged to do yesterday because someone was neglectful. It being a Sunday, we are not too sure what facilities will be open so it is just as well we are carrying our own lunch doings. Our trip will take us through Winton, McKinlay and Cloncurry.

Matt’s Video for Day 4

 

 

 

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