Boots, belts, buckles, a sense of adventure and a love of country are at the start of the Road to Rodeo Longreach MUST DO list (we call this the Buckle List, obvs). The home of stockmen, shearers, sunsets and big blue skies, Longreach is the heart of the Queensland Outback, so regardless of if you are a rodeo rookie or veteran, if you are visiting for the inaugural Road to Rodeo on April 30 and May 1, here’s your official Buckle List.
To really soak up the atmosphere of rodeo you need to immerse yourself – you’ll need jeans and boots, a wide-brimmed hat and a belt with a buckle (buckles are the universal rodeo callsign!). Be prepared to get dusty, and hoarse from cheering and saying g’day.
Experiencing rodeo means country music! To prepare, you’ll need to listen to the current kings of Australian country music, The Wolfe Brothers as well as Bella Mackenzie, Luke Geiger & Bareback and James Johnston because they are all performing LIVE!!! Learn a little boot scootin, and you’ll have a ball!
Once in Longreach an absolute must-visit is The Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre. Delve into over 40,000 years of Aboriginal history (Longreach is on Iningai, Malintji and Kuunkari country), learn how stockmen became legends, hear stories of cattle barons and flying doctors, of rodeo men and women, and watch the live show. Try your hand at whip cracking and check out the entranceway, nicknamed “the Opera House of the outback”.
The flying Kangaroo calls Longreach home, and the Qantas Founders Museum is another must-do. There’s interactive aircraft exhibits, a flight simulator and decommissioned aircraft where you can walk along the wing, visit the cockpit and stand inside the engines. Pretty cool!
Sunsets over the mighty Thomson River are very special. FYI, the town is named after the “long reach” of the river, and it sits bang on the Tropic of Capricorn! Back to sunsets …. the award-winning Drover’s Sunset Cruise and Smithy’s Outback Dinner & Show lets you soak up every bit of sunset, while hearing about the river, its wildlife and indigenous connections. As the colours fade into starlight, dock at Smithy’s Outback Dinner & Show, for table-service dining featuring camp-oven modern cuisine, and live entertainment by the most Aussie of performers. Or join Outback Pioneers for their Starlight’s Cruise Experience, a four-hour cruise down the river on a historic paddle-wheeler, stockman’s campfire dinner and entertainment.
The fifth generation 80,000-acre sheep and cattle property Camden Park Station offers amazing moments. Visits through Outback Aussie Tours include a famous outback sunset, sips and nibbles, the Tropic of Capricorn, the original shearing shed and the oldest private ballroom in the Outback to name a few highlights. Oh, the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall have all ticked this off their buckle list as well!!
Longreach is home to the world’s biggest classroom – the Longreach School of Distance Education which connects students and teachers from across the outback. It’s school, but not as you know it.
Get your heart well and truly started going full-tilt in a restored Cobb & Co stagecoach, on the original mail route from Longreach to Windorah. It’s the only stagecoach gallop in Australia – a 45-minute full speed dash through the bush pulled by five horses, on a bumpy but unforgettable ride with Outback Pioneers.
With a population of 3,000 but home to over a million sheep, it makes sense that the most famous bakery in Longreach has a roast lamb with caramelised onion pie as the special! Sauce isn’t needed! Enjoy!
Upstairs on Galah Street (yes, really) there’s a bar and restaurant named after local legend Harry Redford, also known as the bushranger, Captain Starlight. You’ll be welcomed by linen clothed tables and menus starring fresh seasonal produce, and a wine list to match. Bon appetite!
A bite here at 126 Eagle Street means you’ll meet the McKinnon family who’ve turned their farming business into a tourism one in response to the drought. Cook your choice of meat or fish the way you like it on the hot-stone at your table. They also have country style biscuits, slices and cakes, Bushman’s Burgers, lamb shanks and stuffed potatoes. For more on where to eat, click here.
Speaking of Bushranger Captain Starlight (one of Australia’s most famous cattle thieves), a visit to his lookout 55km north-west of Longreach is worth it. This majestic rock formation can be hiked in 20 minutes to a brilliant view – watch sunset from here and you’ll know why they call it Big Sky Country.
Given Longreach is the spiritual home of Qantas, it makes sense to fly into Longreach on QantasLink, or you can board the Spirit of the Outback, Queensland Rail’s bi-weekly service into town. For roadtrippers, get your playlists ready for a journey that promises plenty of photo ops with red dirt and tufts of spinifex. Longreach is 1200km from Brisbane, and 700km from Rockhampton, Townsville and Mount Isa.
Building on the dual legends of rodeo and Outback Queensland, the Longreach Showgrounds and Rodeo Arena will host Road to Rodeo on Saturday April 30 and Sunday May 1 this year. Featuring a full rodeo competition, the Rodeo Rock concert on Saturday evening with a knockout line-up, food & wine, low ‘n’ slow BBQ, Brown Brother’s Proseccos Paddock (wine tasting), markets and sideshow alley, competitor meet & greets, cooking demonstrations, bush poetry and more, this outback festival is perfectly at home in Longreach, a proud rodeo-loving region.
Saturday 30th April and Sunday 1st May, 2022
Longreach Showgrounds and Rodeo Arena
For tickets, accommodation packages and travel itineraries visit the website.
The event is supported by the Queensland Government, via Tourism and Events Queensland.