Outback towns Winton and Longreach reflect some of Queensland’s unusual heritage.

Story & photos by Danielle and Nick Lancaster

Apart from the highway named in his honour, there is little acknowledgement for William Landsborough, the man who first opened up much of central Queensland. Even the Landsborough Highway, which stretches from Morven, near Charleville, to Cloncurry, in the north-west, is more commonly known as the Matilda Highway.
Yet Landsborough started it all by writing flattering reports when he rode across the area’s vast, grassed plains in search of Burke and Wills in the early 1860s. News spread quickly, and before long pioneering pastoralists moved into the region with mobs of sheep and cattle, thus establishing the first runs on these undulating black soil plains.
A 180-kilometre section of the Landsborough Highway links Winton and Longreach, two towns that are full of remarkable history and colourful characters. In Winton, Banjo Paterson stood at the bar of the North Gregory Hotel on April 6, 1895, and gave the first recital of his legendary ballad Waltzing Matilda. Originally known as Pelican Waterhole, the town continues its literary tradition by hosting one of the country’s most prestigious literary awards, the annual Bronze Swagman Bush Poetry Competition.

This story excerpt is from Issue #49

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2006