Interrupted Journey – North Queensland – 2022 – Part 4

Jumbo Jets & Old Machines

Reception & Tours Areas at the Qantas Founders Museum

Over our many years of caravan travel we have passed through and stayed at Longreach many times. We have learned that if arriving from the East the first thing you will now see is the roof that shelters the aircraft at Qantas Founders Museum. The roof has not always been there. For the previous few years, the first sight was the tail of the Boeing 747. Prior to that it was probably the water tower at the roundabout, adjacent to the Longreach CBD.

Starboard Fuselage and Wing compared to humans demonstrates the size of the aircraft. The engine seen under the fuselage is a spare allowing replacement engines to be transported.
Jumbo nose wheel with DC3 and Boeing 707. Plus air conditioning to keep the display aircraft cool.
The orange items are the aircraft “black box”.
The door mounted raft/slide is an Australian invention.
Boeing 707 with boarding stairs in place.

Thursday 28th September was Qantas day. We had booked the Museum Tour for Ruth and I and the Aircraft Tour for me. All those steps! Then we were both booked to return in the evening for the Light Show. That left time for a nap in the afternoon.

Boeing 747 City of Bunbury.

The museum tour is confined to the original museum building and is all at ground level. It includes a Catalina Flying Boat in the grounds, a wide range of aircraft and vehicle models inside and the old workshop buildings that were the original Qantas Longreach hanger. Basically, it tells the story of the founding of Qantas and of its growth until 1934.

Visitors clustered around the doorway of the DC3.

The story from 1934 to the era of the Jumbo Jet is told in the aircraft display, now housed under a huge canopy, a sort of hanger without walls. The Boeing 747 is so large that some of the other craft are under its wings. Three of them are accessed by permanent stairs to their side and rear doorways. The Douglas DC3 is small enough to be examined from the ground.

Super Constellation with boarding stairs in place.

There are three tours of the aircraft museum. The one that I did takes visitors through the aircraft, with a very informative guide to explain what you are looking at and relate to you the history. The next is more expensive. It is for smaller groups and includes the opportunity to climb onto spaces normally only accessed by the crew and allows you to sit in the pilot’s chair and stand out on the wing for a photo. Then there is an evening sound and light show, where the Qantas story is projected onto the mostly white fuselages of the three larger aircraft.

Boeing 747 instrument paned on the earlier three crew Boeing 747s.
Catalina Flying Boat is located at the museum building.
In the early days of the Boeing 747 having your photo taken standing in the engine cowl was quite the thing to do.
The orange items are the aircraft “black box”.

On display is the Douglas DC3, the Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation, The Boeing 707 and the Boeing 747 Jumbo.

Cockpit on the Lockheed Super Constellation
Cockpit of Boeing 747
Cut away section to expose the frame of the aircraft.
The Lockheed DC3 was an Early Workhorse of the Airline.

The Boeing 707 is an interesting exhibit. It was purchased by Qantas and joined the international fleet. When it was retired at the end of its passenger carrying life it was acquired by a business that converted it into a five star flying hotel suite. It later became a luxury charter aircraft used on one occasion by Micheal Jackson, during a tour. It was finally retired to an open field in the south of England.

Dining table in the converted aircraft
Table for a meeting in flight. Perhaps as board room?
The luxury extends to cockpit seating.

Someone connected with the museum heard about this aircraft and recognised its historical significance. It was purchased and restored to flying order by a team of volunteers who travelled to England for several months to complete the task. It then flew to Longreach to join the fledgling museum fleet. I remember when it arrived.

The light show is particularly well done. Visitors sit or stand on a concrete area between the aircraft. Seating is on high stools. Just grab one if you get tired of standing. As the program is projected onto the sides of three aircraft it is necessary to be a bit mobile.

Rolls Royce Jet Engine for a 747.
Inside the Catalina Flying boat.
DC3 with seating removed for freight.

On the morning aircraft tour, one of the tour members was a retired Qantas Boeing 747 captain, who was able to add to the information provided by the guide from his personal experience.

Stone pitching for water control
An example of Stone Pitching at the site south of Ilfracombe.

On Friday morning, five days after leaving home, we made an early start to head back to Ilfracombe where we turned south to Isisford. About 20 km south of Ilfracombe, at a rest stop, we drove a few hundred extra metres to an area where stone pitching had been used to retain and divert water into a dam. The work is over one hundred years old and may have been carried out by Chinese workers, although the skills were probably brought from England.

Roadside flowers. “Pitilotus nobilis”

Stone pitching is building structures from natural stone without mortar to hold the stones in place. So, each stone is held in place by those around it. The structure is particularly useful in sandy soil where running water quickly washes earthen structures away.

More roadside flowers.

When we were in this area back in caravanning days, we spent a couple of nights in the riverside camp at Isisford, on the Barcoo River. There was an excellent museum there with a display of the ancient forebears of the Crocodile. It had an excellent cafe /coffee shop for such a small and remote place. The cafe is in the museum building, which partly explains why it exists in such a small and remote community.

On that occasion we had morning coffee at the van before going into town. We said that it would be nice to go back. And so, we did. Sadly, some of the fossils that were on display have been moved elsewhere. Probably to another museum where more people visit.

Natural History Museum at Isisford.
Whitman Café at the Natural History Museum.
Barcoo River at Isisford

Roadside flowers were in abundance, particularly towards Isisford. The grass is a brilliant green. The Barcoo has been in minor flood three times this year, so there is a lot of water, on its way to Lake Eyre. The Barcoo and Thompson Rivers join near Windorah to form Cooper Creek which feeds the lake, if there is enough water to travel that far.

The Wellshot Centre at Ilfracombe.

We returned to Ilfracombe and visited the Wellshot Centre. The building was the police station in the town but was converted to a museum to display items from nearby (we passed it on the way to Isisford) Wellshot Station. Wellshot Station was one of the first stations in the area. It was developed with Scottish money and Australian know how.

Southern Cross Water Boring Machine
A well kept Ferguson Tractor.
Tracked Earth Moving Tractor

Ilfracombe has a “Mile of Machinery” as a memorial to the pioneers. It stretches along the north side of the highway for most of the length of the main street. I took a walk along most of it. Included is an example of the ubiquitous Ferguson 35 tractor. I learned to drive on one.

A line of road graders.
A bullock cart that probably was used for transporting wool.
A full stop of Bougainvillea at the end of the machinery queue.
Plumed Whistling Ducks

We returned to Longreach for a pie and coffee before returning to our unit for a nap. Late afternoon we went out looking for a sunset but tonight it was rather ordinary. The sunset the previous evening looked to be a beauty, but we were occupied at the Qantas sound and light show.

In the waning afternoon light, I found some Plumed Whistling Ducks at a waterhole at the north of town. I was trying to get closer for a better shot when they took off. Above the ducks, on the power lines, some Crested Pigeons were sunning themselves and looking a bit surprised. But they just sat and didn’t move.

The ducks after take off.
Crested Pigeon in the afternoon light.

We returned to the cabin for our final night at Longreach. Tomorrow we are off hunting Dinosaurs.

A Stroll Along Humptybong Creek.

Humptybong Creek runs into Moreton Bay just north of the foodie strip in Redcliffe Parade, Redcliffe. But mostly it doesn’t. A dam behind the town holds the water back, unless there has been heavy rain. From the dam the creek waters make their way through drains and culverts to run across the sand. Evidence is soon washed away by incoming tides.

The creek runs to the south west, under Anzac and Oxley Avenues. It drains the slightly higher terrain behind the coastal strip. The dam holds back enough water to encourage wild life. This is what makes it such a good location to photograph bird life.

But Humptybong Creek has a link with history. The Redcliffe foreshore was the sight of the first European settlement on Moreton Bay. Humptybong Creek provided fresh water to the new and tiny settlement. At least two dams were built at different times to provide and increase water storage. Parts of the later dam to be built remain and have been preserved. They are in the park area to the south of Anzac Avenue.

Poinciana trees and Banksia are in bloom and attracting Rainbow Lorikeet in significant numbers. I only have to walk 100 meters from the side gate of our complex to find them in a Banksia in the corner of the Energex power substation, but a high chain wire fence makes it difficult to photograph them. But the trees in Humptybong Park, that runs on either side of the creek, makes photography easier.

Australasian Figbird (Sphecotheres vieilloti)

Food supply seems to attract other birds as well. There always seems to be a variety in the area. As suggested by its name, the Figbird eats fruit and berries, but also eats insects. They move around to the extent necessary to be near a food source.

Little Pied Cormorant (Microcarbo melanoleucos)

An area of the creek, nearer to its mouth, has enough permanent water to permanently support water birds. The most common are Ducks, but one particular tree frequently hosts Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants. They both rest and feed at this location. They are often to be seen swimming in search of food.

Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen)

Australian Magpies are frequently in the area. Their melodic carolling can often be heard. I see them regularly an my daily walks.

Spotted Turtle-Dove (Spilopelia chinensis)
Feral Pigeon (Columba livia domestica)
Crested Pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes)

There are always pigeons around. As a matter of fact I can hear one call is I write this blog. The Feral Pigeon is by far the most common bur we see the Spotted Turtle-Dove and Crested Pigeon quite regularly. There is one location beside the largest waterhole where they congregate, mainly because that is where people come to feed them.

The Australian Ibis is a regular around the water courses in this area, including the exposed sea floor when the tide is out. Often dozens are to be seen forging for food. Like the Cormorants, they have a favourite tree in the creek on which they like to perch.

Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca)
Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)

We don’t see as many Kookaburra as we would like, but they are about. A few weeks ago two young birds called in for a swim in the complex pool and had a good preen afterwards. The bird pictured was sitting on a power line near the creek.

Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa
Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa
Australasian (Purple) Swamphen (Porphyrio melanotus)
Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata)
Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata)

What was formerly the Purple Swamphen and is now known as the Australasian Swamphen is another species that breeds on Humptybong Creek. The one pictured above was busy protecting the little ball of black feathers that is her chick. The Australian Weed Duck can be seen almost anywhere there is water. Family groups can often be seen at the creek.

Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala)

The Noisy Miner is another prolific bird. They can be seen wherever there is nectar to be taken from flowers, noisily protecting their patch. This one was taking a walk through the grass.

Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles0

Another regular around the Moreton Bay area is the Masked Lapwing or Plover as it is commonly known. While normally seen on land, they are often seen in or near the water. I have seen them feeding with water birds when the tide is down. This one dipped itself into the water as I took the shot.

The Little Corella (Cacatua sanguinea) has appeared again this year, as the pine nuts have reached the point of tempting them. Accompanied by their signature screeching sound they were flying from tree to tree as they fed. They offered lots of photo opportunities so I clicked away.

An Introduction to my Bird Photography Hobby

Australian Pelicans at The Entrance, NSW.
Pelecanus conspicillatus

I have been thinking about adding bird photographs to our blog pages for a while. I have been interested in bird photography for many years but did not own the lenses necessary to do anything about it.

Australasian Grebe Tachybaptus novaehollandiae

My camera is a Canon 700D which I purchased in about 2015. It came with two kit lenses, a 18 – 55 mm primary and a 55 – 250 mm short telephoto lens. But changing lenses all the time is a pain in the neck so I mainly used the primary lens and cropped photos to bring distant subjects a bit closer. I mostly used the camera in one of the automatic modes as most photos were to support my travel blog text.

About a year ago I was able to obtain at a reasonable price a Sigma 18 – 250 mm telephoto lens. This was a great improvement but still placed me too far away from subject birds to achieve satisfactory results.

Then, on the principle of you can’t take it with you I went looking for something better and found a Sigma 150 – 600 mm telephoto. Used with my crop sensor camera I have an effective 900 mm reach. Much better.

Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena

I also started to really study the capabilities of my camera and began to shoot in manual mode. I purchased a high capacity data card for the camera and began shooting in RAW at maximum megapixels (18) and converting RAW data into JPEG in Canon Digital Photo Professional 4.

During processing I identify the bird by using apps and field guide books. A handy aid to identification is the “Google Lens” phone app. Available from your phone’s app store, it allows you to scan a bird photo on the computer screen and gives you a selection of photographs to use in identification.

I also use Cornell University’s “Merlin” app and the “Australian Birds” app. There are other that you can try for yourself. I also have a copy of the Michael Morcombe Field Guide to Australian Birds.

Sightings are recorded on an Excel spreadsheet where I record bird and variety and location and date sighted. My computer files are kept by location.

Future Posts

For the future I intend to post my better shots from each outing, together with some information on location and the featured birds. Unless I change my mind, of course.

But for now, here are some of the photos that I have accumulated to date.

Noisy Mina Manorina melanocephala
White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae

Red-backed Fairy-wren
Australian Pelican Pelecanus conspicillatus

Peaceful Dove Geopelia placida
Pied Oystercatcher Haematopus longirostris
Comb-crested Jacana Irediparra gallinacea

Australasian Darter Anhinga novaehollandiae – front view

Australasian Darter Anhinga novaehollandiae – rear view
Osprey Pandion haliaetus

Pacific Black Duck Pandion haliaetus

Australian White Ibis Threskiornis molucca
Intermediate Egret Ardea intermedia
Black Swan with Cygnets Cygnus atratus

Royal SpoonbillPlatalea regia , Australian White Ibis Threskiornis molucca & Great Egret Ardea alba

Intermediate Egret Ardea intermedia
Magpie Goose Anseranas semipalmata
Silver Gull Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita
Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea
Australian Wood Duck Aix sponsa
Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus moluccanus
Australian Figbird Sphecotheres vieilloti
Crested Pigeon Ocyphaps lophotes

Images Copyright to Kevin Sheather