The New South Wales township of Dubbo is captured in this film, in the throes of a jazz festival – the 25th Annual Australian Jazz Convention 1970 – and New Year’s Eve celebrations. Musicians include the Original Graeme Bell Australian Jazz Band (playing ‘At a Geogia Camp Meeting’); Allan Stott’s Hottentots (‘Bill Bailey’); Lachie Thompson’s New Whispering Gold Orchestra (‘Old Time Religion’, featuring vocals by Margaret Broadknight); Nick Polities and His New Year’s Revelers; and the Dubbo Corps Salvation Army Band. Produced by The Commonwealth Film Unit 1971. Directed by Bob Kingsbury.
All posts in The Outback
“Welcome to my backyard called Queensland,” announces Alan Smith, a burly country bloke whose Labrador-like excitement for his homeland quickly rubs off on our small tour group.
We are standing on the edge of a “jump up”, a sharply rising mesa an hour and a half’s drive from Longreach and 10 kilometres outside the town of Winton. Before us lies a once-in-a-generation spectacle; a landscape that is bloated with emerald green acacias, fat mulgas and flocks of kite hawks patched around lush green grass and newly flowing creeks. Like the rest of country Queensland, it’s obvious that two seasons of rain have transformed the once red plains into a rich tapestry of life and colour.
“You couldn’t pick a better time to be here,” says Smithy, the owner of Outback Aussie Tours and a long-term local who reckons he hasn’t seen it this good since the rains of 1990.
Behind us is a big tin shed. It’s no different from the thousands of Titan sheds found in industrial estates around the country, but it’s what is inside that has brought us here.
There are bones in there!
No ordinary bones. Inside are the priceless reminders that giant dinosaurs freely roamed Queensland 95 million years ago when the land was littered with cycads and redwoods more telling of a temperate forest. This is the Age of Dinosaurs, a not-for-profit organisation with a single agenda - to bring dinosaurs to the world.
“The Age of Dinosaurs is not just a museum,” booms deep-voiced George one of three fossil experts permanently stationed here. “It’s a living heritage and it’s uncovering the secrets of the past.”
It’s also the only place in the world where anyone can get their hands on dinosaurs by either touring the production shed like we are today, volunteering to prepare dinosaurs by scaling the soil from the bones, or taking part in a dinosaur dig each August at a cost of a few thousand dollars.
First discovered in Queensland’s outback just over a decade ago, the 40 or so creatures that have been dug up since are now lying in crates waiting to be glued back together.
“There are more dinosaurs in this shed than the rest of the world combined,” bellows George, “and with just three in the team, our lab has 25 to 30 years of work ahead of us.”
I think of my own growing inbox and suddenly feel less miserable.
Of course that finishing date could blow out if any of the team has mishaps like Freddy, the giggling 19 year old fossil fixer from Darwin with a slight case of butterfingers.
After beavering away for a month on the humourous bone of a 20-metre long mid-sized theropod known as Banjo, Freddy accidentally dropped the bone smashing it into pieces and delaying completion by months.
It may have been the humourous bone, but I’m not so sure Freddy found this funny!
If the Age of Dinosaurs leaves you stomping for more pre-historic amusement, then the Queensland Outback has plenty of other options. Within a day’s drive there is Lark Quarry where you can see evidence of the only dinosaur stampede in the world while Richmond is home to a display of pre-historic marine creatures.
For us it’s time to jump forward a few million years to the late 1800s where Richard Kinnon is waiting in Longreach to take us on a ride that promises to tickle our other historical tonsils – a tour of the town’s quaint centre followed by a short gallop along the original mail track on Australia’s last operating Cobb & Co Stage Coach.
My companions and I scamper to the top of the buggy and squeeze our denim clad bottoms onto a single plank behind the mountains of old-fashioned trunks. This, we are told, was the most coveted position and the modest young ladies of the times preferred to eat dust than face the prospect of smelling the armpits of the drunkards below.
Luxury it may be, but without seat belts we spend much of the ride clinging to each other as the carriage bolts and bobs across the track.
“Don’t worry,” yells Richard who’s driving the five horse-powered thrill ride. “You might be eating dust. But at least it’s organic dust out here.”
A fourth generation Longreach resident, Richard and wife Marisse have a passion to keep history alive. Their Longreach business also includes Kinnon & Co, a cavernous store in the centre of town that sells an absolute trove of country goods including jars of old-fashioned boiled lollies, polished saddles and the best freshly brewed coffee this side of the Black Stump.
Refreshed from a night of country comfort and a snoozy lie in at the friendly Longreach Motor Inn, it’s time for day two and the chance to check out the big icons: the Stockman’s Hall of Fame and the Qantas Founders Museum.
The first pays a wonderful tribute to the pioneering men and women who shaped the Australian nation while the second takes us into the bowels of two full scale air planes and the very first hangar built by Qantas.
We learn that the 727 parked on the edge of Longreach Airport has a history of magical moments, having brought a young Queen Elizabeth to Australia in 1959, The Beatles to Brisbane in 1964 and Michael Jackson and Madonna around the globe. In the 1980s the plane was sold to a nameless Sheik and transformed into a palatial hotel in the sky with expansive sleeping quarters, crystal lamps and robust bidets.
I take a seat and drink in the history of the plane only to learn that Hollywood hunk John Travolta also chose this very spot to sit when he decided to purchase his own Qantas 727, incidentally the 13th and last of its type bought by Qantas.
I may be a budget kind of girl, but it’s clear that even I know how to keep fabulous company. And with that, I grab my travel companions and head round the corner to the open-air Cattleman’s Bar and Grill to tuck into a juicy steak and a big red sunset over a blooming green outback.
You are right, Mr Smith. You couldn’t pick a better time to be here.
Originally published 15 March 2011. Shelley Winkel on behalf by Tourism Queensland. This story is copyright free and amy be reproduced.
NASA’s Earth Observatory blog has posted an amazing picture of Australia’s Blue Mountains.
The Blue Mountains rise to a broad plateau not far west of Sydney, Australia. In the heart of the mountains lies the Grose Valley, bounded by sheer 300-meter (1,000-foot) cliffs. This dramatic landscape was sculpted by forces of erosion acting on the underlying geology; that is, characteristics of each rock type helped determine the topography.
This natural-color satellite image was acquired on September 13, 2000, by the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) on Landsat 7. Deep green forests, dominated by eucalyptus trees, cover the landscape. The light gray buildings of Blackheath lie just to the west of the valley (lower left), and the light green orchards and pastures surrounding Berambing are visible to the northeast (upper right).
Two main types of rocks make up the Grose Valley and the immediate surroundings: a young, thin layer of volcanic rock, and a thick sequence of sedimentary rocks, laid down by wind and water several hundred million years ago. Several distinct types of shale, sandstone, and siltstone appear in the sedimentary sequence, which comprises the bedrock in most of this image.
The topmost layer is comprised of basalt erupted 15 to 18 million years ago from an unknown source. Most of this basalt has eroded away, but some can still be found at high points like Mount Tomah. Soils in these areas support a unique ecosystem called Tableland Basalt Forest, which appears bright green in this image.
Directly beneath the basalt are Wianamatta Group shales, followed by the Hawkesbury Sandstone—which forms the cliffs along the Sydney coast, 100 kilometers (60 miles) to the east. These two rock layers are softer than the basalt above and the sandstone below, so they have mostly eroded away except where protected by a cap of basalt.
Beneath the Wianamatta Group and Hawkesbury Sandstone are layers of very hard sandstone called the Narrabeen Group. These 240 million-year-old sandstones resist erosion and form the sheer cliffs that surround Grose Valley. Softer shales and sandstones, the “Coal Measures,” underly the Narrabeen sandstones and make up the slopes visible beneath the cliffs. Coal and oil shales in these formations have been mined extensively.
At the base of the valley is Berry Siltstone, originally deposited on an ocean floor over 260 million years ago. The Grose River flows atop this siltstone, carrying freshly eroded sand grains eastwards to the ocean.
In the eighties a phrase was coined that defined the Australian personality as the rest of the world would see it. Crocodile Dundee’s Paul Hogan went topless on a national TV ad and told America that he would “throw another shrimp on the barbie”. Since then it has been every Australian’s battle to explain to travelers abroad that one, we call them prawns, not shrimp, and two, we generally don’t put them on the barbeque.
Nevertheless, Australians are now generally known as half-naked beach bums who tackle crocodiles and eat weird food. While this may be the case for a lot of the country’s people, Australia is actually quite a big country with a diverse culture. In fact, you could go to any given region and find completely different types of people altogether. So if throwing seafood on a barbeque is not your thing, chances are another part of Australia is a right fit for you.
Thanks to Australia’s unique landscape and wild animals, the adventurer has it covered. It’s best for you guys to head north or towards the centre of Australia. Here you can get up close to the crocodiles in Darwin (not too close of course!), climb the mountains at King’s Canyon and dive into the waterfalls of the Northern Territory gorges. Brave the harsh weather in the dunes of the Simpson Desert, learn of the fascinating indigenous culture and try the age-old cuisine of the Aboriginal people. Get lost in the bushes of Kakadu National Park, sail the northern tropic seas and descend to the depths of the Cutta Cutta Caves.
The Luxury Enthusiast
If a cocktail on the beach is more your thing, then the coast of Queensland is more for you. Take a cruise out to a remote tropical island resort, comb the restaurants and bars of Surfer’s Paradise and sun bake on the warm, white sandy beaches. Stretch your dollar at the fancy casinos, then spend it all on massages, fancy food and fake tan. No crocodiles to tackle here.
The finer things in life aren’t only found in Queensland’s Surfer’s Paradise. All Australian shopaholics know to regularly migrate south to Melbourne for a good bargain and some fine dining. The Direct Factory Outlet (DFO) is the most famous fashion chain store in Australia, known for a good bargain, and while Sydney and the Gold Coast each have one, Melbourne has three. Because of this, both national and international fashion labels have set up headquarters here, turning it into Australia’s most classiest and fashionable city.
Head into Australia’s wild west to explore the unique colours of the Bungle Bungle Ranges or the strange rock formations of Uluru and the Lost City in the Northern Territory. Snorkel the largest living organism in the world off the coast of Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef, and visit the Australian Zoo just out of Brisbane to get up close to the strange animals unique to the Australian continent. Having had millions of years of evolution in isolation from the rest of the world, it is no wonder that Australia is a playground of endless, natural fascination.
The Adrenaline Junkie
Thanks to sharing a country with some of the world’s harshest weather and deadliest creatures, Aussies are always up for a bit of a challenge. In Sydney you can dive with the sharks or take the Skywalk on top of the city’s tallest building, Sydney Tower. Just north of the city you can visit the Australian Reptile Park and get semi-close to Australia’s infamous spiders, snakes and reptiles. On the Gold Coast you can ride one of the world’s biggest roller coasters at DreamWorld, before moving further north to take on jungle surfing through the canopies of the tropical rainforest. Never a dull moment!
The Party Person
You can pretty much go anywhere in Australia for a good beer session, but if you’re a proper party person, you’ll want to get yourself to Oxford Street, Sydney. Get lost in the fabulous colours of Australia’s gay capital and the endless selection of nightclubs open all hours. Find the fashionable, hidden bars in the underground world of the off-street alleys, or join in the annual festivities of the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. If you’re still not partied out, don an outrageous hat and head east to Randwick for the horse races, before letting loose at a good beach party on Bondi Beach.
The Sports Fan
There is never a shortage of good sports competition in Australia. Whether it be swimming, cricket or football (locally known as “footy”), someone is always barracking for a team in something. Any city you go to you can get swept up in the local favourite, in Sydney you can go to a rugby game, in Melbourne you can follow the crowds to the Aussie Rules Football and in Perth you can catch a local soccer game. If you don’t get the chance to hit the big stadiums you can always catch a game on TV at a local pub, or join one of the many friendly “backyard” games of soccer or cricket in parks and on streets wherever you go.
The Crocodile Dundee Fan
And though Australians may fight the stereotype, the truth is there is a good chance on your travels throughout the country you will meet the sun-tanned beach bum, be invited to a barbeque, encounter the wilderness guy who tackles crocodiles and eat a whole lot of “shrimp”!
From the description:
This film is derived from Colin Legg’s outstanding night sky timelapse footage, commissioned for the ANCIENT SKIES project, shot with fisheye and flat lenses in Western Australia in late 2010.
It was edited and rendered to 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and was our entry for the ‘Widescreen Weekend’ event as part of the Bradford International Film Festival 2011, with a digital print built by Alex Hibbitt of Arts Alliance Media.
The soundtrack by Toby Marks of BANCO DE GAIA was specially written and performed for the film, with some minor re-mixing by Grant Wakefield.