Blowing along the Matilda Highway – Barcy to Longreach (110k) (2870k total)

(Written by Dave)

It was bloody cold overnight. The radio said “4 degrees, with wind chill, feels like 1.4”. For the record 1.4 is getting darn close to freezing. We didn’t have any frost on the tent but it was hard getting out of bed. Not a cloud in the sky so at least you could move to sunny corners of the park and warm up. We ate brekkie standing in the sun in the yard in front of the camp kitchen. There was soon good news on the radio aside from the temperature – we had E, SE winds – tailwinds forecast the day!

We were on the road by 8:45, in the sun but still wearing almost all of our riding clothes. I passed on the rain jacket and booties but pretty much wore everything else, including my down pullover. We stopped every 30 minutes or so to strip off various items. By the time we reached Longreach, it was nearly 21 (70) and we were down to shorts and short sleeves. The road we travelled all day was called the Matilda Highway. Though our map also called it the Landsborough Highway and the Capricorn Highway brochure also laid claim to this particular stretch of road. Not sure what the excitement is, it was long, flat and wide open nothing all day. At times it felt like we were riding the “curvature of the earth”, rather than the contours of land. There was one odd moment however – a farm with a large American flag blowing in the wind.

Matilda Highway


Huh, what country are we in?

With the tailwinds we had a pretty good average speed. Traffic was a little heavier than the last few days and there were a few more road trains. All but one road train gave us a wide berth. We had one seemly buzz us, just for fun – not much fun for us mind you. We survived and the next one was polite – so at least it wasn’t a trend.

Story of the day - long straight road

We saw a flock of emus, eight of them in total. They didn’t seem spooked by the cars but didn’t hang around as we approached. We saw a solo emu later in the day which seemed much bigger – I think the flock may have been a mother and her brude. (For what it’s worth, I had to look up what you call a group of emu – we guessed, gaggle and clutch, thinking flock was a little common).

Flock of Emu

There was only one stop today – in a town call Ilfracombe at the 80k mark. We had chocolate milk and a sausage roll, just the right treat to get us the last 30k into Longreach. A little after we left Ilfracombe, Nancy started yelling about something up in the air that I should look at. I was expecting a bird but couldn’t see anything. Eventually I pulled over to have a proper look, only to discover that her excitement was over a large group of small tumble weeds floating some 100 meters above us. They were all small, going a little faster than us. It looked like giant snowflakes like you see in an illustrated children’s book, quite odd. I thought Nancy was losing it. See the photo below for an action shot. I’m pretty sure that everyone reading blog will be thinking that we are BOTH losing it now!

Tumble weeds

Today is my sister Pam’s birthday. We looked hard for any kind of sign with “Pam” in it but had no luck, Instead she’ll have to settle for a photo of the old one room school house from yesterday’s Worker’s Museum. I think these desks would would be pretty uncomfortable! Happy Birthday Pam!

School benches - ouch!

I know that we just had a rest day yesterday but we are taking at least two more here. The Stock man’s Hall of Fame and the Qantas Founders Museum are both here in Longreach. When we first planned this trip, I had hoped we could make here for a good look. Hard to imagine that finally have. We are staying in the Discovery Caravan Park – not much grass but a great camp kitchen. The grass is understandable given what we saw today. It doesn’t look like the Queensland floods made it out here. Anyway, we hope to have a few good days of rest here and stock up for the roads ahead.

Made it to Longreach


Outback vista

9 thoughts on “Blowing along the Matilda Highway – Barcy to Longreach (110k) (2870k total)

  1. hi guys, im glad longreach wasn’t 10km further, the way you were stripping clothes off you would have been naked bye the time you reached the town centre…….:)

  2. Thanks for the birthday wishes! I wondered if you would remember. I love that old school room picture. Beautiful wooden desks. Probably harder to sit in than look at! Will you find out if the Schools of the Air are still in use and if so, if they use computers now instead of radios? They may not be in the part of the country where you are now. I visited one near the Flinders Ranges. Thanks for doing that bit of research for us… maybe on your days off! Enjoy!

  3. I’ll check the follow-up comments via e-mail box to see if you find anything. I always forget to go back and read the comments after I leave one.

  4. Pingback: 10 Road Trips Every Queenslander Should Take | Meriton Suites

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