An hour and half later we arrived in Barcaldine. This was a 20min stop so there was time for us all to disembark and wander through the park beside the station. The focal point is the Tree of Knowledge. This was the site where a group of men founded the Australian Labour Party when protesting the treatment of shearers in the shearer's strike. The tree, which was alive when we passed this way two trips back has since been poisoned by vandals and is now 'embalmed' and protected from the elements by a large timber structure intended to represent the original size of the tree before it started to suffer from 'old age'.
The final town we passed 50mins out from Longreach was Ilfracombe where we could see in the dark the various pieces of machinery under some street lights along the main road. I think they call it “machinery mile”. The coffee carrying 'bags' provided on the train are rather unique so Arthur and Ron tried to re-use them for other purposes.
We were only 15 minutes late getting into Longreach, even though we had been up to ¾ hour behind at some stops. One of our on-board hosts told us that they are now able to take 3 in the locomotive cabin again so they have started giving trainees practical experience which has been impossible over the last few Covid-months. That also contributes to the slowness of the travel.
Our clean motel room, with aircon turned on, was very welcome and we soon had a cuppa, shower and were asleep about 10 for a much needed uninterrupted 10 hours of rest.