Firearms Campaign Blog
Greg Beale and Andrew Jones, starting Brisbane 13th August 2021.
Spent the day at the State Office arranging the last of the details for this road trip.
Andrew had camera lessons that didn’t go well and Greg has computer/hotspot/wifi lessons that were equally as bad.
Had a chat with the Crime Stoppers team including Snr Sgt Tim Munro and got the nod that all was well with the section.
We had a couple of photos beside the Prado and someone asked who was the short fat bloke standing beside Andrew.
Both Greg and Andrew retired back to the Virginia International to rearrange the vehicle and load for the trip.
To Greg’s dismay, Andrew knocked on his door at 6.00am for the start of the trip. As Greg knew the city roads, he did the first stint.
The fog all the way to the base of the Toowoomba range was like pea-soup which reduced the travel speed.
We were able to stop at the Golden Arches Dining Establishment in Toowoomba for a healthy Maccas and coffee.
Andrew drove the next leg of our journey to Oakey where we set up for the photo shoot with the local gazette. We went to the local police station; however, it wasn’t attended at the time so we went to the Oakey RSL and offered them our drink coasters as this seemed to be the most attended establishment in town. The staff were very friendly and we were informed of the great publicity that the local TV stations were airing.
After the Oakey photo op, we travelled on to Miles where we had lunch. The best Chicken Zinger burger that Greg had ever had. Thanks to the staff at the Windsor hotel, who took a bundle of drink coasters for their patrons.
We left Miles to head to Mitchell for the evening and decided to stop at the Wallumbilla information spot and had afternoon tea consisting of satchel coffee and home-made biscuits.
Left there under very heavy cloud cover and headed for the last leg of Saturdays travels to Mitchell. We arrived in Mitchell around 5.00 pm and booked into the Mitchell Motel. After unpacking we went to the Richards hotel and had a lovely dinner and handed over a bundle of drink coasters to finish off Saturday’s travels.
Again to Greg’s dismay Andrew knocked on his door and said “Are you awake”, he had been up since 4.30 getting the vehicle ready for today’s big journey.
The first part of this leg was very interesting with Pigs, Kangaroos, Emu’s and Goats in abundance, which was both a pleasant surprise and a concern as the Roo’s seemed a little skittish.
Our stop in Augathella was an interesting one as Andrew was fascinated by the water tower and took several photos from every angle. After opening time, we went to the Ellangowan Hotel to drop off the drink coasters and were welcomed by some very friendly staff who were aware of the campaign and were very supportive. Whilst Greg was engaging with the publican, Andrew waved down the local police officer and gave a supply of brochures and merchandise for their use. Everyone was really supportive of the campaign and there have already been interest from locals.
The Augathella common was almost to overflowing with grey nomads free camping.
The welcome sign to Blackall is very impressive, however there were almost no one around on a Sunday morning. We drove on to Barcaldine and stopped to see the tree of knowledge and then delivered the drink coasters across the road at the Shakespeare Hotel whose management, staff and patrons were fully supportive of the program. After Barcaldine we headed on the last leg of the day’s driving to Longreach and stopped for a photo opportunity at the QANTAS museum with the car and banner in the forefront.
This was a better start to the day. We had a walk around Longreach and said hi to all the grey nomads. The locals were up and gone and at work early, as they do, in the rural sector of Australia. We were lucky enough to witness the “Outback Crier” call the patrons together to see the Thompson River cruise and we were also given the rare privilege of seeing a couple of old motor vehicles parked in front of the Outback shop.
Andrew and Greg went to the police station and were welcomed by the officers and were able to hand over some brochures and fridge magnets. Really friendly station with officers’ keen to assist with the Crime Stoppers message as well as supporting us with the National Illicit and Illegal Firearms Campaign.
After Longreach we dropped into Ilfracombe and stopped to have a look at the Machinery Mile, which is old farming and military machinery and vehicles that were a vital part of the growth of this section of rural Australia. The countryside is almost flat and water serviced by The Great Artesian Basin which is the lifeblood for this region.
The Wellshot Hotel management knew of the campaign and accepted the drink coasters and were keen to have them on the bar.
After a short stop in Barcaldine, Andrew and Greg were on the road again towards Blackall, where they will be staying for the next couple of days. The weather in this region is absolutely fantastic, cool mornings to warm and dry days. Incredibly friendly people, happy to support the illicit and illegal firearm campaign.
The upcoming Back to Blackall festival is drawing people from far and wide and it looks like it will be a terrific experience, when it finally arrives.
Greg’s uploading and downloading skills are getting better, however Andrew’s camera skills aren’t as he jumps into as many photo shots as he can and leaves the photo taking to Greg.
Both Andrew and Greg have commented on the pure serenity of the region, as once they have stopped with no passing traffic, they say they can hear the flapping of butterfly wings.
You can really understand the love of this country by the locals.
Holding up to the real Australian tradition, both the gents had the special Parmy at the local to finish the day off.
Another lovely day in Blackall. Greg and Andrew visited the Blackall Police Station and were greeted by welcoming staff. They distributed the illicit and illegal firearms material and then did a walk around town.
There is a lot of history in this part of Australia and they were lucky enough to catch up on some of the attractions and points of interest for the area. There is a monument of Jacky Howe “the famous N.Z. singlet wearer” and shearer immortalizing him in bronze as a ringer who sheared more sheep in one day in 1892 with a record that, to this day hasn’t been broken. The main street has a petrified tree in the middle and a heritage park that is well worth a serious look at. A few photos were taken including Andrew beside the biggest Marino Ram, plus one of a Beale Piano and a thunder-box dunny. Andrew and Greg found the black stump plus a sign that showed them what was beyond the black stump, amazing, the things that you see in the bush. There are a lot of wire sculptures around town, as the locals are inspired to create their own sculptures, usually using barbed wire, so you don’t pat the sitting dog as you will get a nasty prick. The artesian bore in town was sunk in 1885 and supplies the town with their water.
The evening finished with a couple of medium-rare steaks at the Barcoo Pub. What a pleasant day in the outback. OMG they forgot to tell you that whilst out here they are listening to Red Neck Radio, by the way it is really good quality and really informative.
Another day travelling the regions highways. Over the last few days Andrew and Greg have travelled the Landsborough Highway and minor ways to other towns that were on the agenda. Dropped into Isisford today and had a great breakfast and learned of the magical history of the prehistoric animals that roamed the earth some 65 million years ago. They met the locals and were again greeted by warm and friendly residents. On their return to Blackall, Andrew and Greg, had a tour of the Woolscour which is a living memory to the past sheep industry of the region and which has been preserved by the community in association with the Blackall Council.
Had a look at the local saddlery as Andrew wanted a belt and was informed that the one, he was admiring, was a bull rodeo halter. After a little embarrassed chuckle, he was able to choose the one he wanted. The town of Blackall is really getting ready for the upcoming “Better In Blackall Festival” and are advertising it to all the new-commers in town.
First comment is, “I love the shirts” then the conversation turns to the National Firearms Amnesty as the topic. There is a lot of surprise when it is suggested that there is over 250,000 illegal/illicit/unregistered firearms in the state of Queensland and then relief when it is explained that the unwanted firearm can be handed into a participating gun shop or police station. This is always explained with Please Phone First.
Well, what can we say. Went to Jericho today. Andrew was driving, so Greg asked him (Just in case the Old Testament was 100% correct), if he wouldn’t mind to drive really slowly and carefully as he didn’t want a repeat performance like it was some 2,000 plus years ago. From the information we got from the local Police officer, Mr. Jordan settled the area back in the 1800’s so they named the local water course after him then Tongue-In-Cheek named the Town Jericho, so it was a good move to be careful and the local residents agreed.
Greg and Andrew dropped into the local police station and delivered the brochures and merchandise for his use. Greg had a chat with a couple of locals who were now very keen to hand in their old firearms to the police as they were worried about getting fined prior to the amnesty. The local information centre, post office and town library were keen to display our posters as well as hold the brochures for use.
Again, Andrew and Greg, had a great reception from the Barcaldine police, who were keen to promote the National Illicit and Illegal Firearms Amnesty and were really welcoming to this campaign.
Moved on back to Tambo, for the evening stay, were again greeted by warm and friendly locals. Where Greg and Andrew are staying have Chicken Races at 5.00pm every evening and for anyone passing through town, this is a must see. It’s only done between May and October, so when the question was asked, why only then, the response was that the jockeys’ got too hot in summer. To Greg’s dismay, a couple understood that reply.
Greg, stupidly purchased one of the runners in the chicken race, called Dopey. Greg strutted around like “cock of the walk” as a thoroughbred owner, however he didn’t realize that his racer was the slowest in the field. To Andrews amusement he saw Greg’s runner come a close second last after it turned around and ran in the wrong direction. It was all in fun and the money raised went to the RFDS.
Great place to stay, Home Cooked food from (not at home) kitchen, however a great vibe.
Hit the road at a more sedate rate as they only needed to go 500 meters to meet the local police officer. Well, he was called out of town on some urgent business, so we decided to meet some of Tambo’s locals and spread the word that we were in Town and were educating the public on the National Firearm Amnesty.
After a short while, as Tambo, isn’t the biggest town in Central Queensland, Andrew and Greg headed off again to the thriving metropolis of Blackall to pick up the Crime Stoppers Queensland’s CEO Carmen Jenkinson. To Andrew and Greg’s surprise, they were celebrities in town as the Queensland Country Life had done a full page spread as well as the Blackall local Gazette.
After Carmen’s pick-up there was a short tour around town, followed by the trip down the highway to Tambo again and the opportunity to introduce Carmen to the World Acclaimed (or not) Tambo Chicken Race.
Really early start to the day as the trio headed off to the Better in Blackall festival to set up a stand in the main street and spend the day with the locals. The team had a lot of interaction with the locals discussing the various issues surrounding the safety of firearms in the community.
The team were able to get in contact with the local gun club management committee who were very responsive to this National scheme and we loaded them up with brochures and posters.
One in particular local shooter was initially unsupportive as he believed that we were taking his firearms. Greg was able to explain that this was an education tour and that we had no intention to take licensed firearms, but were after the illegal and illicit ones. After that he was not only agreeable but very supportive.
The local police came to spend some time at the Crime Stoppers stand and made sure that all was going well and that the local celebrities were behaving themselves.
The Tambo cop, was one of the participants in the Billy-Cart race, but got beaten by one of the local kids. It was suggested that he threw the race.
The Better in Blackall festival is a really big one for the area and it brings people from all around the region, including a few of the surrounding towns.
As Andrew and Greg were becoming a couple of celebrities around the district, they had locals dropping in to renew acquaintances and have a natter.
After a very long day on our feet, the trio, packed up for the evening and headed back down the highway to Tambo, again to the sound of racing chickens and a rowdy bar tender.
Up early as there was some administrative work to be done, together with Andrew’s appointment at the Tambo police station for the delivery of National Illegal and Illicit Firearms merchandise.
Once this was done, then the trek back to Barcaldine and on to Emerald for that part of our journey.
For a change, the countryside went from the vast, almost barren land to roaming low hills and windy roads.
The closer we got to Emerald the denser the timber as well as the greener the grass.
All three shared the driving for this part of the trek and were able to ask and answer most of the Road Safety strategic questions posted along the highway.
After a light dinner Andrew and Greg, retired to their respective motel rooms for a good and well-earned nights rest.
Sometime during the dark hours of the night, Greg got up and banged on the wall as he thought that Andrew’s snoring was keeping him awake, however on a closer inspection, it was revealed that this motel was about 50 meters away from the Emerald train shunting lines. Greg, apologized to Andrew and sheepishly crawled back into bed for a fully interrupted nights’ sleep.
Easy start to the day, as Andrew and Greg went to the Emerald Highlands Marketplace for a pop-up stand. They had a great location and were able to have some good interaction with the locals.
There was one of the locals who recently handed in a firearm due to the advertising in the media plus there were others who let them know that they were very supportive.
Went the Emerald police station and were welcomed by the officer in charge who was very supportive and who was keen to promote the gun amnesty and assist in getting illegal and illicit firearms and weapons off the streets.
Greg and Andrew also dropped into the local participating gun shop and were advised that they were very keen to support the amnesty and already had been working with locals to get some illegal firearms out of the public’s hands. Apparently there have already been a bit of activity in this area.
The start of the second last day on the road trip for the NIFC had Andrew and Greg up super early for the drive to Roma. The trip took them through undulating countryside, this time with a lot of animals along the roadside, so they needed to keep vigilant.
The drive took them through Springsure and then on to the Carnarvon range. During the trip they drove through Injune in August which was a bit of a laugh on the way. They did a right turn at Rolleston and on to Roma.
When they arrived in Roma, they went to the Westlands Plaza and set up a pop-up stand and had a chat with a few of the locals and explained the reasoning behind the National Illicit and Illegal Firearms Campaign.
After the Westlands Plaza pop-up they went to the Roma police station, where they were able to meet several of the officers around the station as well as getting a tour of the facility and the surrounding precinct.
They then went to see the local participating Firearm’s Dealer (gun shop) who is very supportive of the scheme and have had a bit of interaction around locals handing in their old firearms.
Last day on the NIFC trek across Queensland, started as per usual, nice and early. Greg had the first stint of driving and slipped out from the Roma motel quietly, not wanting to wake the late sleepers. Greg turned onto the Warrego Highway and headed off towards home, when Andrew asked why he heading back to Emerald. Greg, now geographically embarrassed, sheepishly did a perfect law-abiding U-turn and headed in the other direction towards their final destination of Brisbane.
The countryside changed from dry, vast, almost barren to undulating hills, dark soil, broadacre farming, green vegetation and a lot more traffic.
Apart from the increase in traffic, both Andrew and Greg realized the traffic was a lot less, considering their pre-covid experiences on this highway in the past.
Looking back on this trek, Andrew and Greg drove almost 4,500 kilometres, visited a lot of supporting gun shops, the police stations in almost every town they passed through and hundreds of regional people and delivered the National Illicit and Illegal Firearms message across the Central, South, Western part of Queensland. The message was: if you own a firearm, make sure it is safe and secured correctly plus if you have and or know of an illicit or illegal firearm, now is the time to hand it in to either a gun dealer or the police anonymously to have it either registered or made safe or destroyed. Once the locals understood the message, they were very supportive as good people do not want unlicensed firearms in the hands of “outlaws” to claim the phrase.
Both Andrew and Greg have praised the sporting shooters for their support and understanding of this valuable amnesty.