Longreach hosts royal guests

FOR two hours on Monday the 3000 residents of Longreach must have felt like their tiny central western Queensland town was the capital of Australia.

The town of about 3000 people, perhaps best known as the birthplace of Qantas, played host to the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall on Monday night.

With the mercury pushing 40, Australia's Governor-General Quentin Bryce, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and Longreach Mayor Joe Owens were among a number of people waiting on the tarmac to greet the royal couple at 4pm.

It marked the beginning of Prince Charles's first visit to Australia since 2005, and was his first time in Longreach.

For Camilla, it was her first time on Australian soil.

The royal couple, who had been in Papua-New Guinea, was determined to stop and greet Queenslanders as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

They were whisked off to the Qantas Founders Museum, where among other things they met with staff from the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Prince Charles, who is patron of the RFDS Friends in the UK, also inaugurated a new aircraft for the service.

From there they were taken to the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame, where they were taken on a tour and met with families with strong historical connections to the area.

That left just enough time for a traditional Aussie barbecue at the Cattleman's Bar and Grill where they shared a chat and snag with local community champions before returning to the airport for a flight to Melbourne.

On Tuesday the royal couple will be among the 100,000 punters at Flemington for the running of the Melbourne Cup.

The Duchess will present the cup to the winning connections.



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