Winton, Outback Queensland

After leaving Boulia we said goodbye to Stewy and the kids as they headed back to Queensland and we also started off on our journey home. We had no plan, but we had about 6 days before we needed to be back in Sydney so we had a quick check of the maps and decided to headed off towards Winton.

After a week of no showers (thank god for baby wipes!) we decided to check into a hotel for the night and make good use of their shower and bed! We also took a night off cooking and headed to one of the local pubs, The Winton Hotel, for dinner.

The next morning we were up early to get in some exploring before the relatively short drive to Longreach, where we planned to spend 2 nights. We’ve visited both Winton and Longreach before, but it was nice to be back and spend a bit more time looking around.

If you ever find yourself in Winton, here are a few of the highlights for you to check out.

The North Gregory Hotel

Established in 1879, The North Gregory Hotel was reportedly the site of the first public performance of Australia’s unofficial national anthem, ‘Waltzing Matilda’, on 6th April 1895.

The original North Gregory Hotel was was pulled down in 1900 and rebuilt, only to burn down in 1916 and again in 1946. The building that stands now was built in 1955 and nowadays this hotel is not only a reminder of the past, but also a great place to eat, drink and sleep.

Located in the centre of town, this hotel provides hotel rooms and non-powered caravan sites.

Address: 67 Elderslie Street, Winton
Phone: 07 4657 0647

Qantas Airfield Commemorative Cairn

This location marks the site of the first landing ground of Qantas. When most people are asked where Qantas was born, they think Longreach, but it was in fact Winton. The local saying about Qantas is that it was conceived in Cloncurry, born in Winton and grew up in Longreach.

The Qantas story officially begins with it’s ‘birth’ in Winton on 16th November 1920, with the initial registration of the company. The Winton Shire Council was the first local authority in the world to support an airline, contributing financially to the purchase of the first landing field. The first Board Meeting was held at the Winton Club on 10th February 1921. There is a commemorative cairn in Elderslie St and also at the site of the landing field.

Price: Free!
Location: Located on Hughenden  Road, behind the Diamantina Heritage
Truck and Machinery Museum 

The Winton Club

On 10th February 1921 the first Qantas Board meeting was held here. We believe there is quite a range of Qantas memorabilia on display, but the club has never been open while we are there.

Location: 27 Oondooroo Street, Winton

Jolly Swagman Statue

This statue is dedicated to Banjo Paterson, who wrote Waltzing Matilda. It’s also a tribute to the many swagmen who lie in unmarked graves across Australia.

Price: Free!
Location: Elderslie Street, Winton
(outside the pool at Barry Wilson Memorial Park) 

Musical Fence

This is a strange, yet fun!, place where you can ‘play’ musical instruments made from various everyday items. This is the worlds first musical fence!

Price: Free!
Location: Located on Hughenden  Road, behind the Diamantina Heritage
Truck and Machinery Museum 

 Banjo Paterson statue

A statue of Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson, who wrote Waltzing Matilda. Note: A fire destroyed the Waltzing Matilda Centre in June 2015 but the statue of Banjo Paterson was undamaged. The new centre re-opened in 2018. 

Price: Free!
Location: Elderslie Street, Winton
(located outside the Waltzing Matilda Centre)

Waltzing Matilda Centre

This is the first museum in the world dedicated to a song! This centre tells the story of our unofficial national anthem, Waltzing Matilda.

Unfortunately the original Waltzing Matilda Centre was completely destroyed by fire in June 2015 and very little was able to be saved from the ashes. We did visit the original centre and it was great.

Price: $30 per adult, $10 per child (age 5-11) as at September 2019
Location: Elderslie Street, Winton

The Age of Dinosaurs Museum  

If you like Dinosaurs (and lets face it, who doesn’t!) then this museum is somewhere you need to visit. This is home to the largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils in the world.

Years ago while out this way we visited Lark Quarry, the site of the world’s only known record of a dinosaur stampede, that was pretty cool! So this time we visited the The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum to learn a little more about these amazing prehistoric creatures.

We even got to touch a fossilised dinosaur bone, how awesome is that!

The tours are split into 3 sections, but we didn’t have time to see the Dinosaur Canyon, but we did join the guided tour of the Fossil Preparation Laboratory and the Collection Room. Great few hours and highly recommended to visit if in the area. If you are limited for time, just let them know when you arrive and they will happily work out which tours you can do.

The Fossil Preparation Laboratory shows you where palaeontologists expose the fossilised bones, you can actually see them working.

The Collection Room is where you’ll find the bones of ‘Banjo’ (Australovenator wintonensis). ‘Banjo’ is the most complete Australian carnivorous dinosaur ever discovered.

We didn’t visit the Dinosaur Canyon but this area is part of a dinosaur dig where bones are currently being found.

You can even book in to a ‘Dig-a-Dino’ experience where you take part in a real life dig for dinosaur bones. You live and work and learn onsite for 5 days. Definitely something we’d both be interested in taking part in at some point in the future.

Price: Prices vary depending on which tours you do. See website
Location: Lot 1, Dinosaur Drive, Winton
Located about 25km from Winton. Turn off the Landsborough
Highway onto Dinosaur Drive (it’s well signposted). We were towing
the camper and there is plenty of room for parking.

There is plenty more to do around Winton, and there are some great pubs and eateries and bakeries. Another must visit (which we went to on our last visit and loved it) is the Diamantina Heritage Truck & Machinery Museum. This features many restored heritage trucks, tractors, machinery and memorabilia.

Burke & Wills Country

As we mentioned previously, this whole area is Burke & Wills country and there is so much history here if you are interested.

Burke and Wills graves – Explorers Robert O’Hara Burke and William John Wills were the first to successfully cross Australia from south to north, but they both tragically died beside the Cooper Creek on their return journey. Their bodies were later exhumed and, following Victoria’s first state funeral (which was apparently attended by approximately 80% of Melbourne’s population), they were both laid to rest in the Melbourne General Cemetery.

King’s Tree – John King was the sole survivor of the Burke and Wills expedition. After leaving the bodies of his two friends, Burke & Wills, King had sought the help and skills of the local Aboriginal people to help keep him alive. About a month or so later, King was found by Howitt’s search party.

The Dig Tree

By far, the most well known location would be The Dig Tree, which is located on Nappa Merrie Station on the northern bank of Cooper Creek, about 100km or so from Innamincka, SA.

Now for those that may not be up to scratch on your Burke & Wills history, The Dig Tree is the site from which the Burke and Wills expedition party split into two and Burke, Wills, King & Gray set off for the Gulf of Carpentaria, whilst William Brahe and the rest of the party remained behind with instructions to wait up to three months for their return. They did exactly that, in fact they waited more than four months for them to return. The most tragic part of the whole story is that Burke & Wills did finally return, only to find the camp deserted ….. by only a few hours. Brahe and the others had literally left the camp only a few hours before their arrival. It was such a tragic, sad twist of circumstances that occurred.

On returning to the camp, they found it deserted, but found a carving on a large coolibah tree telling them where to dig for supplies. Before departing the rest of the party decided to bury some provisions on the remote chance the Burke and Wills may return. William Brahé carved three separate messages into the trunk of the tree.

The inscriptions marked the location of the supplies, the camp number, and the dates of the arrival of the advance party and Brahé’s departure. Whilst most of the carvings have now been covered over, you can still slightly see a small part on the tree, as shown on the pic below.

This Coolibah tree is believed to be is 200-250 years old.

The Face Tree – Only about 30m from The Dig Tree, you will find what is known as ‘The Face Tree’. Burke’s face was carved into the tree in 1898 by John Dick.


You can visit the Dig Tree as a day use visitor and camping is also available in the area adjacent to the Dig Tree Reserve. It’s very basic bush camping with really no facilities. There are basic toilets, but the camping area is quite large and it’s unlikely you’ll be camped near these. Campfires are allowed, but you must provide your own firewood.

There was a fee of (i think) $10 per vehicle to camp there. An honesty box as you enter is provided for this. You do not need to pre-book and the camping area is large so I don’t think you would ever need to worry about not finding a space for the night. It’s a beautiful place to camp for a night or longer, the sunrise and sunset is great, it’s quiet and relaxed and the bird life is abundant.

The ‘Dig Tree’ is one of Australia’s national icons, it’s one of those places which you visit and you are reminded of the harsh conditions our explorers faced. It’s a good feeling to know that we are able to visit places like this and be reminded of our past. Apart from the boardwalk structure built around the tree to help protect it, the site is exactly the same as Burke and Wills would have seen it all those years ago. Time moves on so quickly and life is such a rush nowadays, so it’s nice to be able to reflect on our history and see how lucky we are in comparison.

The little church on the hill

For years and years I’ve driven past this little tiny church perched up on the top of a hill and always wanted to visit. With a cemetery spilling down the hill behind the church you could just imagine the stories that were held within the church and the graveyard itself.

As with many churches, this one comes with it’s own special history. In 1838 William Lawson called for tenders to build the church and it was subsequently built by James Atkinson, opening in 1841. St Bartholomew’s Church was the first church to open in Prospect.

Some of you may think that the name William Lawson sounds familiar and you would be right …… Back in 1813, William Lawson, Gregory Blaxland, William Charles Wentworth, along with their servants, horses and dogs, set off on an exploration which would ultimately create history. These three explorers would undertake the first successful crossing of the Blue Mountains by European settlers.

Many fellow Sydney-siders would know that all three now have towns named after them. William Lawson lived very close to the site of St Bartholomew’s church, his home which he named Veteran Hill was located at what is now the Prospect reservoir.

William Lawson passed away in 1850 and is buried in the St Bartholomew’s Church graveyard. The family vault (along with numerous other graves) has been restored with help from Blacktown City Council and the hard working people of The Friends of St Bartholomew’s.

The first burial to occur at St Bartholomew’s Church was in 1841, for Ann Goodin, aged 15. Her grave still stands today.

One of the great things about exploring this cemetery is that you can read about the people buried here, which gives you an insight and connection into their lives.

In 1967 the church was closed due to continuing vandalism, decay and a declining congregation. The last church service was held on Christmas Eve 1967.

By 1891, 360 burials had been recorded. Although the sale of burial plots ceased many years ago, burials can still occur on the site in previously purchased plots.

For over 30 years the church and cemetery stood on top of the hill overlooking the highway, slowly deteriorating. In 1989 part of the church was destroyed by fire, including the roof the 1850’s organ.

This important historical site is now owned by Blacktown City Council and they have, over the years, undertaken extensive restoration work, which is very important to keep the history alive.

The Friends of St Bartholomew’s group, who consist of an amazing group of volunteers, also assist the council to protect and conserve the integrity of the church and cemetery. Not only do they undertake restoration work, but they run tours, Ghost Tours and open days to help raise much needed funds.

This church and cemetery is one of the most historic sites in the Blacktown area and one of a few visible reminders of the former Prospect Village. By continuing the preservation and upkeep of the church and surrounds, it’s helping to keep alive the reminders of the local colonial past and the personalities which helped shape our history. The church is now listed on the State Heritage Register.

We both love learning about the history and stories behind the places we visit, but when we find something like this that is so close to home it is really special. This little church sits on top of a hill, surrounded on both sides by the M4 motorway and the Great Western Highway, thousands of people drive past every single day and wouldn’t have any idea of the history that is contained within.

Reading one of the brochures we thought that this sums up this church perfectly “St Bartholomew’s stands on its hill at Prospect, a quite oasis in the middle of a sea of development. It’s a testament to the pioneering families of the locality and the later individuals and organisations who recognise the importance of preserving this iconic site.

St Bartholomew’s Church & Cemetery is located in Ponds Road, Prospect, NSW.

The town they took off the map

A few years ago whilst travelling in Western Australia we got talking to a local in Karratha who told us about this town called Wittenoom. The more we spoke, the more intrigued we were about this remote town in the Pilbara region of WA and we wanted to find out more. We were given directions and decided to visit after leaving our camp in the Millstream National Park.


For those that don’t know of Wittenoom’s history, it was where they used to mine the deadly blue asbestos from the 1930’s to mid 1960’s. Wittenoom was a town that literally lived and breathed blue asbestos.  A huge portion of those who worked in the area have subsequently died from asbestos related illnesses.  A town was built near the mine to house and service workers and their families and by the mid 1950’s it was the largest town in the Pilbara.  At the time no one knew of the hazards of asbestos, miners would return home covered in the deadly dust and the asbestos tailings were even being used in construction of gardens and roads all around the town.

Prior to mining beginning around Wittenoom in the 1930’s, the area was predominantly pastoral.  Mining in Wittenoom Gorge commenced in the mid 1940’s.  From 1950 until the early 1960s Wittenoom was Australia’s only supplier of asbestos. The mine closed in 1966.

After leaving Milstream National Park we were on our way to stay in the mining town of Tom Price and had already decided to drive the Rio Tinto rail access road, which required us to sit through an induction video, complete a short training module and acquire our driving permits. This is a privately owned road that runs parallel to the train network throughout the Pilbara, providing maintenance access to the railway.

Rio Tinto do allow the public to drive on the rail access roads as long as all drivers hold a valid permit.


This road is an unsealed road, but as we have generally found, most roads owned by mining companies are pretty well maintained and in good condition for a dirt road. It was actually quite a pretty drive, but very secluded, we saw very few cars all day.


Generally the only car we passed was a mining vehicle, but for the majority of the day it was just us and our surroundings…… and lots of dust!


Eventually we arrived at the town that used to be called Wittenoom. We say used to be called because in 2007 the State Government wiped this town from the map, the town was degazetted, their electricity and postal services were taken away and all reference to the town has been deleted (as shown on the photo below), it simply doesn’t exist anymore.


All road signs and maps have had all reference of the town removed and access to the area has been limited, it’s now like the town never existed.


It is a shame that this town has such a tragic history as it is situated in an absolutely beautiful location. The backdrop of the town is stunning and such a contrast to the town itself. The signs that greet you as you reach the town tell of a not so beautiful story, a stark reminder of how not everything is as it seems on face value.



It’s hard to imagine now that this was once a big thriving town with shops and schools and many houses. It’s now like you are walking into a real life ghost town. Doc Holidays Cafe is boarded up, houses are abandoned and the whole town lays in a derelict state.

As you drive around you really feel like you are in another world …. one you should be in. It’s a very strange and eerie feeling being there. It’s hard to explain, I’m not sure if it’s that you know you are somewhere you probably shouldn’t be, or that you feel like you are encroaching on someone’s space, or that you can feel the bad spirits of a town with such a tragic past …. whatever it is, it’s hard to explain and even thinking about it now it’s taking me back to that day we were there.


Although the town is no longer and all services have been stripped away, apparently there are 3 or 4 people who remain living in the town. Such a shame as it’s in such a beautiful location.



Many of you would know Midnight Oil’s song ‘Blue Sky Mine‘, but did you know that this song was inspired by the experiences of workers at the Wittenoom mine. If you listen to the words in the song, the “blue” refers to blue asbestos, and the “sugar refining company” refers to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Ltd (CSR), the owner of the mines.


Asbestos fibres and dust are said to still be all around the town and the gorge itself still contains piles of the mine tailings.

Now we aren’t going to tell everyone to go and visit as the signs are pretty direct as to the health risks ….. but we were so intrigued we wanted to have a closer look. Were we concerned? … of course we were, those signs do make you think!

But we didn’t stay long, although we do regret that a little now and would love to go back and explore a little further. Although filled with asbestos mine tailings, from photos we have seen, the Wittenoom Gorge is absolutely stunning. It’s such a tragic, yet interesting story of yet another stunning area of Australia.


Exploring the ranges

You could quite easily spend a few weeks exploring the Flinders Ranges and surrounding areas, particularly if you are going to do any of the bushwalks.

Below are just a few of the places we visited while in the area.


The Great Wall of China

Just outside the Flinders Ranges on the road between Wilpena and Blinman you’ll find the unusual formation which is named the Great Wall of China.  This is made up of lines of rocks which are topped with ironstone.


The historic town of Blinman is actually the highest town in South Australia.  Copper was discovered here in 1859 and mining began soon afterwards.  What was once a popular busy town in the mining boom is now a quiet little town home to just 22 residents.

The Blinman Hotel, known as ‘The Pub in the Scrub’, first opened in 1869.

Sacred Canyon

The site is a place where the Adnyamanthanha people gathered to tell stories.  It’s believed that the engravings are up to 40 thousand years old.

It’s quite an easy and picturesque walk into the canyon along a dry river bed, lined with ancient river red gums.  What makes this place different to other Aboriginal artworks is that they are actually engravings carved into the rocks, not paintings.

It is unknown who actually made these artworks as the memory of these people has been lost to the local Adnyamanthanha community.

Nuccaleena Mine Ruins

Copper was discovered at Nuccaleena by William Finke in the mid 1850’s.  The mine became partly operational in early 1860 when 100 tons of copper ore were mined in 5 weeks by 16 men.  By March 1861, 88 men were working at Nuccaleena, including six miners, five masons, four sawyers, two cooks and a medical officer.

The Great Northern Mining Company built a small town around the mine site, where the miners and mechanics of the company resided. Of course, the township also had the Bushman’s Hotel, as well as Captains apartments, office, stone stables, a goods store, smith’s shop, a workshop, general store, doctor’s house and huts for the miners.

You can walk around this old mine site and we would have loved to have done so, but it was unbelievably hot the day we were there and walking from the car to the information sign and taking the photos below nearly killed me (George stayed in the comfort of the air-conditioned car!)



Kanyaka Homestead Ruins

We both love exploring old ruins, learning the history and imagining what these places must have been like …. filled with people and chatter.  Walking around some of these ruins we come across, you are the only ones there and it’s hard to imagine what life must had been like.

The Kanyaka ruins consists of various buildings, the main homestead and various other outbuildings.   There is also the woolshed, which was one of the largest in the state.

This was our second visit to these ruins and this time we also noticed that there is a small cemetery across the creek bed …. we all know Shelly loves a cemetery and had it not been over 43 degrees she would have taken the walk over to check it out!







Old Moxans’ Hut

You will find this hut on the SkyTrek Track on Willow Spring Station property.  Old Moxans’ Hut was built around the turn of the century and was actually occupied permanently by a station employee until the early 1960’s.





Prairie Hotel

Located at Parachilna, the Prairie Hotel is one of those places that everyone wants to visit, why?  To try their ‘FMG’ – Feral Mixed Grill ….. a dish consisting of kangaroo, camel and emu.  Apparently this is listed as one of the top 100 Gourmet experiences in Australia!  We would have liked to try this (well George would have), but the hotel was closed for the summer so we will have to visit next time, but we did take a drive out to the town anyway.

The Parachilna Hotel was first licensed in 1876 and changed its name to the Prairie Hotel when Ross and Jane Fargher purchased the hotel in 1991.

Now Parachilna is one of those blink and you’ll miss it type of places …. it’s literally nothing more than a railway station, the hotel and a few other buildings.  It’s a strange little place, there was no one around (that we could see!) and to be honest it felt pretty eerie.  Would we stay there ….. NO, would we go back when the pub is open …. Probably, did we feel like someone was going to jump out and kidnap us and chop us up into a million pieces …. YES!

Friendly locals!

This friendly little guy was a constant visitor at our campsite during our stay.  He was very inquisitive and was never far away.  We are always very careful about not leaving food or rubbish around while we are camping, but we did come back one day and find the grease tray from our Webber lying on the floor ….. we have a feeling maybe this little guy had something to do with that!

Plenty of 4WD Tracks

As previously posted, there are plenty of 4WD tracks available and the Flinders Ranges are centrally located should you wish to extended your holiday into another area …. there was a part of us that wanted to jump on the Strzelecki Track and head off to Innamincka for another visit ….. the hotel sells awesome chips!


Wilpena Pound Welcome Talk

One of the highlights of the trip was attending the welcome talk at the resort.  Each night they hold a free informal talk where you are welcomed to the area in Yura Ngawarla, the language of the Adnyamathanha people, the traditional owners of Wilpena Pound and the Flinders Ranges area.  The talk included the welcome, as well as stories and beliefs of the Adnyamathanha people as to the creation of the pound and surrounding areas.  To hear of stories passed down from generation to generation and to feel their passion and spiritual connection is something we love to be a part of.  To visit places like this and see that many of the staff are of Aboriginal background makes it just feel right.  We love hearing the Dreamtime stories, knowing that they have carried these beliefs down the generations, it’s a privilege to be a part of that.  If you are visiting the Wilpena Pound Resort, this welcome talk is a must-do activity.


We basically spent 5 days driving around and exploring.  We generally left camp by 8am and we were lucky to be back before 7pm most days.  During our whole trip we drove 5,136km.  Above is a screenshot of our hema map app of where we drove in the Flinders Ranges.

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The magnificent Boab Tree

If you want to see a Boab Tree, head to the Kimberley region of Western Australia.  This unusual looking tree is found everywhere across the region, from around Kununurra all the way down to Broome you will see these incredible trees.  They are quite the sight to see and we really love these beautiful ancient trees.


Boabs are a very slow-growing tree and it takes many hundreds of years for these to grow.  They love well-drained sandy soil and the Kimberley region is the perfect growing environment for Boab’s as they receive plenty of warmth and water during their growing season (which happens to be the wet season) and then during their dormant period (the winter months / dry season) they prefer the drier conditions.

The boab tree is deciduous and loses all its leaves during dormancy in winter.   As these winter months are the ‘dry season’ this is the time most travellers are in the area.  Therefore, it’s generally a bare brown skeleton of a tree that is seen.   The new flowers usually start to open around November.


Every boab tree is unique and some of them are said to be over 1500 years old.  As for the history of the trees, the Aborigines used them for shelter, food and medicine.  Once the white settlers arrived they were more commonly used as meeting points, or as described later, prison cells.

We’ve heard a few stories of why the boab tree looks the way it does, but one such story is that, initially the boab was one of the most beautiful majestic trees ever created.  After a while it began to boast of its beauty to the other trees.  It was after this that a higher being decided to punish it and turned it upside down to expose its roots and hide its beauty forever.



Boab trees have a ‘nut’ which grows and inside the nut are seeds.  As mentioned previously, the indigenous people used this tree as a food source as most parts of the tree are edible.  Apparently parts of the tree are very high in Vitamin C content.

Nowadays boabs are grown commercially and the boab roots are sold and make their way into many gourmet foods.  We actually purchased the most amazing mango and boab chutney while we were in WA.

Art & Craft

The nuts themselves are covered in a fine hair which, once scraped off, reveals the dark brown boab nut.  In many of the art galleries and craft stores around the Kimberly you will see the most amazing carvings that have been carved out on these nuts.

Boab Prison Tree

While on our Western Australian trip a few years ago we visited to Boab Prison Tree in Derby (pictured below).  This tree is said to be around 1,500 years old and has a girth of 14.7 metres.  It was used as staging point for prisoners being walked into Derby in the early days.  This tree is now a registered Aboriginal Site.


As the trees age, their trunks become hollow.  It was said that this tree was used as a “prison cell” in the 1890s by the local police to lock up Aboriginal prisoners over night, on their way to Derby for sentencing.  It’s recently been reported that there is no evidence that this particular tree was ever used as a prison, but there was also another similar one at Wyndham.


We really do love these trees, there is just something about them.  At the end of the day it is just a tree, but they are all so different and there is something slightly magical about these ancient creatures.  We even brought our own boab home with us which sits proudly on our front entrance.


A day of tragedy … and the luckiest Monaro around

This story starts on Sunday 5th January 1975 and it details the incredible life and death situation that one family found themselves in.  This was definitely one lucky family, someone was certainly watching over them that night.

On this fateful night the Lake Illawarra cargo ship lost control and collided with the pylons of the Tasman Bridge in Hobart, Tasmania and this resulted in a large section of bridge collapsing into the river, taking the ship down with it.  Unfortunately a number of cars that were travelling on the bridge at the time were also sent crashing down into the Derwent River.


Frank & Sylvia Manley and their young children were returning home from a day out and were unfortunately crossing the bridge at that exact moment.  They were travelling along the bridge when Sylvia noticed the lights disappear in front of the car and then realised that the bridge was gone and she screamed for Frank to stop.  The car slid towards the edge of the bridge, coming to a halt with the car swinging and front wheels dangling over the edge.  As the car teetered on the edge of the bridge, they slowly made their way out of the vehicle.  All this while, the Manley’s had no idea what had even happened as this emergency situation was unfolding around them.


According to Frank, the only thing that stopped their car from tipping over the edge of the bridge was the casing of the automatic transmission, which gripped into the surface of the bridge.

From stories we’ve read, Frank has joked that he was glad he purchased an automatic as if he’d purchased a four speed manual they would have all died that night!

Little did the Manley’s know that what started out as a family day out would end in such tragedy and their car would be splashed across news screens and newspapers across the country …. and would ultimately make this probably the most famous and photographed HQ GTS Monaro of all time.


Another vehicle, a Holden station wagon was also left stranded on the edge of the bridge and is seen in all the photographs from that night, but this vehicle did not receive the same publicity.  Although, the owners of the wagon were also very fortunate that night as they were hit from behind by another vehicle that couldn’t stop and luckily they too came to rest safely at the edge of the bridge.

This exact car is on display at the National Automobile Museum of Tasmania in Launceston


Click here to see a video about this unfortunate event and an interview with Frank & Sylvia Manley.


Sadly, 12 people died that night, seven crew from the cargo ship and five people from within the cars that went over the bridge.

The bridge collapse had a huge impact on the residents of Hobart as the city was suddenly cut in two.  As most schools, hospitals and businesses were located on the western side, the eastern residents were severely affected.   The bridge was subsequently repaired and reopened in late 1977.

On the 25th anniversary of the tragedy, a plaque was unveiled that simply read ….

In memory of those who died

In recognition of those who were affected

In acknowledgement of those who assisted

The Tasmanian Community remembers the Tasman Bridge disaster of 5th January 1975.

Another plaque was unveiled for the 40th anniversary and at 9.27pm, the exact time of the event 40 years earlier, the lights were dimmed, traffic was stopped and there was a minute’s silence to remember and pay respects.

A very interesting story, one of tragedy and of luck but one that has been firmly placed into the history of Tasmania forever.

Tassie Trip Day 5:  Richmond

What a beautiful old town Richmond is, you can see why this is one of Tasmania’s most popular destinations for tourists.  This town is steeped in history and as you take a drive through the village your eyes can’t help but be drawn to the beautiful architecture of the old buildings, some dating back to the early 1820’s.


You’ll find Richmond about a 20 min drive from Hobart, in the Coal River Valley.  The town itself is home to many cafes, restaurants and galleries, each operating out of resorted Georgian buildings that line the streets.  Visiting this town is like taking a step back in time, there is so much to learn and the buildings are like a work of art.


Many of the homes are restored to their original standing, whilst the newer style homes are built to fit in with the surrounding architecture.  It’s hard to explain just how picture perfect Richmond is.  Even the surrounding towns are filled with beautiful wineries, it simply is one of the most spectacular areas of Tasmania.


In the 1820’s, the gaol and courthouse were built, as Richmond had become an important convict station and a military post.  Built in 1825, the Richmond Gaol is the oldest gaol in Australia.


Unfortunately both times we drove through Richmond were outside the opening hours of the gaol, so we were unable to stand inside the stone walls.


The most famous landmark of Richmond (and our initial main reason for visiting) is the Richmond Bridge.  Building of the bridge commenced in 1823 and the bridge was officially opened in April 1825.


This Heritage Listed sandstone bridge spans the Coal River and it is now the oldest bridge in Australia.  This amazing structure was built by convict labour and the design was an engineering achievement at the time.  In fact, for 10 years after it was built it had the longest span of any bridge in Australia.


Now I’m sure that this isn’t the only one in the area, but the ghost of George Grover reportedly haunts the bridge.  Legend has it that Mr Grover was not a nice man by any means and often whipped the convicts as they quarried sandstone from nearby Butchers Hill.  One night he was attacked by the work gang pushing the cart and they threw his body onto the rocks below the bridge and his ghost is said to have haunted the arches of the bridge ever since.


Never one to pass up the chance to visit a cemetery or photograph a church, next on our stop was St John’s Catholic Church.  Built in 1836, this is Australia’s oldest existing Catholic Church.


Should you pay a visit to Richmond?  ……. for sure!  This area is beautiful beyond words.  I don’t think either of us could live in Tasmania as we like our hot sunny days too much (definitely couldn’t survive a winter in Tasmania!), BUT if we were to move there, we both agreed that this was the perfect place.

Tassie Trip Day 3: Woolmers Estate & Brickendon

Whilst driving to Launceston we passed a turnoff to Woolmers Estate & Brickendon and decided to go and check them out and we are so glad we did.

Both of these places are World Heritage Listed Convict Sites.

Four Archer brothers emigrated from Hertford, UK between 1811 and 1833 and all settled close to one another, in fact William and Thomas farmed side by side.  Thomas Archer settled on Woolmers Estate which was a pastoral operation running sheep and cattle, while William Archer settled on Brickendon, an agricultural property.  Both estates were run independently of each other, but they did share their assigned convicts.

Both Woolmers Estate and Brickendon took part in the convict Assignment System which operated in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) until 1840.  Under the Assignment System, convicts were assigned to free settlers.  They were responsible for feeding, clothing and housing the convicts in return for their labour.  This helped convicts as they could then have skills or a trade when they received their ‘ticket of leave’ and were then free to leave and obtain paid employment anywhere.  It’s understood that they were so well looked after at these two properties that many stayed on for years or decades after receiving their ticket of leave.


Woolmers Estate


Woolmers was owned by six generations of Thomas Archers.  The first Thomas founded the property in 1817 and the final Thomas passed away in 1994.  He did not have any heirs and left the property and it’s contents to the Archer Historical Foundation.

The property has numerous buildings where convicts once worked and lived.  It’s the perfect place to reflect on colonial life and look back at the heritage that has been preserved over the years.







The Rose Garden was created in 2001 on the site of the original apple orchard.


Attraction Information:  There is an entry fee applicable and you are provided with a booklet that allows a self guided tour around the property, except the main house.  There is an extra fee if you would like to see and go on the tour of the main house.

Address:  658 Woolmers Lane, Longford

Telephone:  03 6391 2230




Much like the Woolmers Estate, there are numerous buildings to view and walk through in the farm village area.  There is a lot of information on the history of the property and the convicts that lived and worked there.  After walking around the village, it’s then time to explore the estate garden which is beautiful.

Brickendon has remained the same 1150 acres (465 hectares) as originally granted in 1824.





It’s amazing to see the crimes that these poor souls were sentenced for …… 7 years for stealing some handkerchiefs or life for stealing a pair of trousers, wow!  It really starts to put things into perspective doesn’t it, we really do have it easy nowadays.


The photo below was taken in the estate garden.  There was a wedding just finishing up the day we were there and its no wonder they hold so many weddings here, the backdrop is spectacular.


Attraction Information:  There is an entry fee and you can take yourself on a self-guided tour, maps supplied.  This also gives you entry to the gardens which are across the road.

address:  Woolmers Lane, Longford

Telephone:  03 6391 1383



Autumn Harvest at Rouse Hill House & Farm

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This morning we headed out for a taste of country life ….. 10 minutes from home!  We have been talking about going to Rouse Hill House & Farm for years and now we will definitely be back, what a beautiful place!  Today we went to the Autumn Harvest.  This featured markets, which had local produce such as chutneys, honey, oils and vinegars, fruit and vegetables and yummy scones, jam & cream!

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Rouse Hill House & Farm is a 19th century sandstone house set on 13 acres of rural property, including lots of barns and outbuildings.  The views from here are great, surrounded by lush green paddocks and bush.  You wouldn’t think you are that close to the city ……. until you look across the road through the trees and see the big ‘bunnings’ sign!!

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Richard Rouse and his wife, Elizabeth, were granted the land and built the house in the early 1800’s.  Six generations of the Rouse family then occupied the house consecutively from the 1800’s until the late 1990’s, how amazing is that.  It was then opened as a museum to share it’s amazing history with the public.

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 We will be back to tour the house itself, so much more history to learn.   You tend to take your local surroundings for granted, but you’d be amazed at how much history surrounds us, get out there and find out about your local areas too!

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