|27th August, 2013
I can’t believe that it’s been almost a week since I did an update of our trek. I have a lot of ground to cover then.
Let’s see, we left Boulia and headed for Middleton.
Middleton is, well let’s just say different.
Half way to Middleton we came across this lovely stone fireplace out in the middle of the never never and evidently it is all that is left of the Hamilton Hotel and was also the 7th staging post for Cobb & Co which came from Alice Springs through to Bedourie.
We pushed on through open flat, almost treeless plains towards Middleton and came to a beautiful area of mesa type hills. The colours were just wonderful. We left the van at the bottom of the lookout and walked up to, well, see what we could see.
The view, all 360 degrees of it was just breathtaking. Rolling hills covered by rich red dirt and some greenish grey salt bush and tufted grass, not to mention the rocks. Small ones, big ones and lots in between.
We finally arrived at the Middleton Pub which according to the Caravaner’s Bible “Camps Australia Wide” boasted a free camp that went by the name of the Middleton Hilton.
The Pub was stop number 4 of the 9 stations for Cobb and Co between Winton and Boulia.
They established these changing stations every fifteen to thirty miles so that they could rest the horses and those that wanted to take a break from the bone jarring trip in a coach, licenced to seat 9, AND with no cushioning or springs to speak of.
The Pub provided a rest area where people could get something to eat and have a sleep if they wanted to, at least for a couple of hours.
The first coach into Middleton was on the 12th February, 1865.
The town was proclaimed on the 19th May, 1908 and serviced the surrounding area with a police station, school, and community hall and of course the changing station and hotel.
The last Cobb and Co run occurred on this route sometime in the 1920’s.
The Middleton Hotel is the only changing station left on the Winton to Boulia mail route.
By the look of the Pub I would say that very little has changed from when it was part of a “thriving” community. It certainly hasn’t had a coat of paint nor the windows cleaned in many many years.
They have a menagerie at the hotel and the pig has the run of the place. She even comes over to the vans camped at “The Hilton” and sticks her snout in the door to see what she can cadge. She has the run of the pub as does the little heifer calf, inside and out, 4 dogs, the cat and numerous birds. The front and back doors are never closed.
We spent a peaceful if somewhat dusty night at the Hilton and then pushed on to Winton.
The Middleton Pub has the distinction of being one of the most isolated pubs in Queensland.
We saw our first wild camel on the way into Winton too.
As many of you would probably know Winton is the very heart of “Matilda Country”. It has links with Waltzing Matilda, Qantas and Dinosaurs.
Winton was discovered during the 1860’s and named Pelican Waterhole. The name changed to Winton in 1879 and by 1891 had become major sheep area.
Banjo Patterson wrote Waltzing Matilda at Dagworth Station just outside Winton and legend has it that the first performance of his poem was at the North Gregory Hotel which is still in operation today.
Qantas also has links in Winton with the first board meeting taking place there in 1921.
In 1999 Australia’s largest dinosaur find was discovered on a nearby property and made headlines around the world.
Their litter bins in the main street resemble dinosaur feet and makes for a nice change from the usual green wheelie bins.
We camped just outside town at the long waterhole which was very peaceful with some of the local wildlife dropping by for a visit.
Rob caught some yellow belly and some catfish, which were returned to swim another day.
Then it was on to Longreach.
The country is “slowly” changing but still so very dry. There are a few stunted trees and the tufted grass is more plentiful. The cattle appear to be a bit more robust than what we have been seeing of late and we saw our first flock of sheep for quite some weeks.
We camped at the Apex Thompson River Camping area and when we arrived the Yellow Belly Festival was in full swing. We were lucky to find a spot to park the van.
Over the next couple of days the number of campers has slowly dwindled so today there are probably about 20 vans when there were in excess of 100 when we arrived.
We had been to Longreach before so this time we didn’t do any of the attractions, just used the time for rest and relaxation, which to Rob means FISHING. I will let you know next blog how he fares.
Longreach is in Central Queensland and spans the Tropic of Capricorn. It covers 40,638 sq. kilometres and includes three smaller townships, those being Ilfracombe, Isisford and Yaraka.
The Stockman’s Hall of Fame and the Qantas museum are both here and well worth the visit.
There are many attractions and activities to keep you occupied for at least a week and well worth the time.
It is hard to imagine that the majority of the country we have come across in the last week or so, at some stage during the year, a normal year that is, is covered with anything from one to two metres of water.
A word of warning…..COME IN WINTER. It gets pretty bloody hot out here.