A major rejuvenation of the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame means more reasons to visit Longreach for the quintessential outback experience.
A major relaunch of the iconic Australia’s Stockman’s Hall of Fame (ASHOF) in 2008 will give Queensland’s Longreach a strong push towards snaring the title of ‘capital of the outback’.
The museum will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a $1.5-million facilities upgrade and a calendar of major events throughout the year. A large new entertainment, dining and accommodation area will be unveiled, along with a new theatre supported by Village Roadshow and an art gallery, showcasing the best of bush art. Events include the Queensland Rodeo Championship, a “Thank you Longreach” community event, bush poetry championships and a VIP dinner with prominent Australians to relaunch the venue.
ASHOF chairman Ken Cowley, also chairman of R.M.Williams, the official sponsor of the museum, says he is excited about the chance to attract more young people to Longreach. “We know it is a big challenge to get people to go all the way to Longreach so we’re going to create events that will draw them,” he says. “Rather than simply having static displays there will be many things to go and see and experience. People will easily be able to spend four or five hours in the place.” Ken says the ASHOF is working closely with the Qantas Founders’ Museum, also in Longreach, and the local community. “I have always had a passion to help make Longreach the capital of the outback,” he says.
In the past one of the challenges in drawing large numbers of visitors to Longreach has been limited accommodation. Part of the ASHOF revamp is addressing this with luxury five-star tent accommodation. A new landscape plan for the entire precinct is being put together by designer Chris Rowlands. “We’re going to use a billabong to link the eating area with the tent area,” Chris says. “There will be a footbridge and a series of pathways and it will make the site much more integrated. It will be made largely with Australian material with native plants and people who visit the site will really feel a part of the outback.” Chris is donating his plan, which will be the inspiration and catalyst for building work.
The ASHOF was opened in 1988 by Queen Elizabeth and since then millions of people have made the journey to Longreach to visit. The idea to build a memorial to honour the legends of the outback began with stockman and celebrated artist Hugh Sawrey. With the help of many people – including R.M.Williams, who camped at the site for months and laid the building’s foundations, Dame Mary Durack and former Longreach mayor Sir James Walker – the dream became a reality.
This story excerpt is from Issue #56
Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2008