Stealth camping in Longreach. That will be something to remember! We were not disturbed at a our spot in the carpark at the Qantas Founders Museum. How small does our motorhome look next to the Boeing 747?
We spent the morning checking out the Main Street until it was time to do our tour at the Longreach School of Distance Education (LSODE). Our tour was to commence at 10.30am. We were quite surprised by the number of people that were there for the tour. There are so many tourists in Longreach at the moment.
What a tour! I loved this place. We were shown a short video of how the school works and how it all started using radio. With the advances in technology the school now uses the internet and video conferencing for classes. Each class has there own teacher but sometimes the children may do lessons with a different teacher for a special skill such as maths or music. Yes they even have music lessons and dance and PE. I was amazed to learn that the school puts on an bi-annual musical production and it involves every child in the school. Due to the long distances the students are from each other they only get about 6 practices together before they come together for the final production. The standard is very high.
The video interviewed children and teachers and the children obviously love their school. On a regular basis the school holds Cluster Meetings. This is an opportunity for the students and their home tutor, sometimes a paid governess or govie but usually the mother, to get together with the teachers in a central location. This getting together face to face helps the children with socialisation and making friends and it also helps the home tutors network and discuss common issues.
We were taken on a guided tour of the well resourced school with its classrooms, conference rooms, teacher spaces and studios where the teachers conduct the online classes, and the fabulous library that not only has books but also toys and games, videos and learning support materials.
At the rear of the site is a group of buildings called The Quarters. This is where the students and their home tutor or parents could come to the school for Mini School sessions and had overnight accomodation for them with a kitchen and living space. This facility is much loved by the school community and sadly it has been shut down by some bureaucrat in the Depart of Education. Apparently the excuse is that the building has asbestos. The building is in good condition and does not need any modification so I fail to understand how having asbestos can affect the use of the building. There are probably millions of buildings that have asbestos and as long as the asbestos is not disturbed they are still perfectly OK to use. But not according to the education department AND they have no plans to replace the facility.
I was so angry when I heard this part of the tour. Does the department not realise how vital it is for these remote families to come together in an environment like this one? The P&C have commenced a fund raising drive to raise money to build a new facility however the department of education has come back and said they can raise the money but it can’t be built on department land. Are they kidding? This just does not seem at all right to us.
However we were very impressed with the school and the dedication to learning that the teachers and families showed. We thoroughly enjoyed our hour long visit and made a donation to the Beds for the Bush fundraiser to go towards a new accomodation centre.
In the grounds around the school are many sculptures. Each year the school holds a competition for the best sculpture. They are made by the kids with help from their parents. Some of them were fabulous.
We went back into the main part of town and stocked up on some groceries, wine and went to the pub for lunch. Interesting fact about Longreach…the streets are all named after birds. The north/south ones are named after land birds and east/west streets are named after water birds.
In the afternoon we checked in at the Longreach Tourist Caravan Park and I spent the afternoon doing lots of washing and cooking. Richard got his MacBook out and was glad to have some internet again. We hadn’t had any service ever since we left Charleville.
The Tourist Caravan Park in Longreach is huge. There are some 306 van sites, some with ensuite, some drive-thru but all of them just on gravel. They also have some cabins.
After the rain there was a lot of mud but I was surprised how quickly it was drying out. We did think it odd that there was no drainage for sullage at all in most of the park and you are told to just let your grey water out on the ground. I understand this if it is grass or gardens but there it was just gravel. The newer section of the park has sullage points at each site and as a result was not as muddy as the rest of the park. It costs $40 for a medium size powered site. Our site was not too muddy. The park was booked out again and they are for weeks ahead. They are raking in the money this season!