It’s a fully operational Qantas 747 Jumbo Jet (aka 747-200 VH-EBQ for those who care about such things!), the centrepiece of the Qantas Founders Museum – today celebrating 90 years of Qantas.
It’s parked on a fenced off section of of the Longreach Airport grounds, right next to the car park. And when I say ‘right next to’, you can take that to the bank!
Longreach, in outback Queensland, is one of several towns with claims to be the birthplace of Qantas, (an acronym for ‘Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service’) along with Cloncurry (site of inital planning and inaugural flight destination), Charleville (inaugural mail run flight) and Winton (first board meeting). The small town of Tambo has a lesser claim as site of a fatal Qantas mail run crash.
As the original Qantas HQ, Longreach has the museum with enough oomph to support its claim. This still-operational jet – ‘The City of Bunbury’ – can be toured, and is therefore a magnet for aircraft obsessives! Don’t let that put you off though – in July 2009, for a bargain $19 each, we easily found enough of interest in the many and varied exhibits (including several aircraft) to spend several hours in the museum.
But if you’re a REAL die-hard, you’ll probably tack on one or more of the tours that take you inside the prize exhibits – or on them, if you choose the ‘wing walk’ tour – the ultimate fantasy ‘must do’ for aircraft-obsessives!
A few days in Longreach, and the 747 looming high above the cars, caravans and coaches in the car park becomes part of the landscape. But take an evening stroll and stand under the tail, as I did, or under a wing or engine to really appreciate its awesome size in these incongruous surrounds.
Only just long enough to land the jet, the Longreach airstrip isn’t long enough to fly it out.