Winton is one of the most
interesting outback towns in Queensland.
and other towns in outback
Queensland, it has got a lot of history,
but on top of that it’s in the middle of some great opal and dinosaur
country, and some of the reddest soils in Australia.
It is also known as the birthplace of Waltzing Matilda song, a story
you can discover in the Waltzing Matilda Centre. Here is some
information about the town, and in the end of this page is a map of the
Historical Buildings in Winton Australia
Winton has got a lot of fantastic historical buildings. The Old Royal
Theatre on the main street with its original canvas seats puts on
performances on Wednesday nights during the dry season (April to
October), and its little museum is open year around. There is also the
Corfield and Fitzmaurice Building which used to be just a shop, now
there is a dinosaur skeleton, a replica of the Stampede at Lark Quarry
and a gem collection. Another, stranger attraction is Arno’s Wall, a
mural with all sorts of items built in it, from motorbike wheels to
kitchen sinks and old teller machines.
Waltzing Matilda Centre, Winton Queensland
What Winton is most famous for however, is the fact that the Australian
unofficial anthem Waltzing Matilda was first performed here. So, today
you can visit a huge Waltzing Matilda Centre where you
can learn everything about the song, listen to it being sung in
different languages and stroll through different displays and
exhibitions with everything you can ever imagine being related to the
Waltzing Matilda. There is also a show of the story, a cafe, a souvenir
shop and an art gallery.
Waltzing Matilda Song
Waltzing Matilda was supposedly written after a
scene that happened at the Combo Billabong west of Winton, but the song
was first performed in the North Gregory Hotel on the main street of
wasn’t really meant to become any famous when Banjo
Patterson who wrote Waltzing Matilda,
scribbled it down over a few drinks at the pub to amuse the group of
people he was travelling with. But today the North Gregory is really
famous for the song.
Hotels Accommodation and Camp Winton Queensland
Winton is full of pubs though, so after you have travelled along the
roads dotted with one-pub towns, for a change you can go on a pub
crawl. On the main street you have the North Gregory, the Australian
Hotel, Tattersalls Hotel, and on a side street from Tatt’s is the
Winton Hotel. You can also stay in those hotels, although they can get
noisy, especially the Australian. So if you want a quieter night, there
are Pelican Fuel Stop Caravan Park and Matilda Country Caravan Park –
the later puts on a funny night show which is included in the price –
Dinosaur History around Winton Queensland
The area around Winton is known for its dinosaur history. It is one of
the rare areas in the world where conditions have happened to be right
so that a lot of fossils and tracks from different
types of dinosaurs have been preserved. Winton is not alone, though –
are also known for fossils of different types of dinosaurs. In
Hughenden and Richmond you can visit large dinosaur museums, and in all
the three there are dinosaur statues to take photos with. Winton hasn’t
got any dinosaur statues, instead they have dinosaur feet for rubbish
bins. But the dinosaur country around it is interesting to visit,
particularly if you like to dig for dinosaurs.
Opal Country around Winton Queensland
Winton is also surrounded by some great opal fields and you can see
lots of local fossickers who come here to try their luck. Others come
to escape the cold winters (June – August) in southern Australia,
which is the only time you want to be around in the outback here as the
summers are burning hot. Fritz and Sonja, friendly Germans were
operating the town’s opal shop in 2006 when we last travelled through
and they are migrating between Winton and Adelaide
Opal Fields South of Winton Queensland
But you can experience the opal fields yourself just south of Winton.
There is a small dirt road south of Winton with some very red soils,
termite mounds, families of emus,
and - dead dingos hanging in trees – showing
the locals don’t like dingos.
The road can be made in loop and it can be
made in one day although you can camp in the bush for free.
Lark Quarry - Tracks and Dinosaurs Fossils
After about one-third of the road you come to Lark Quarry. It is quite
a special place which was first found by a local farmer who was
plotting around on his land and happened to come across some large
animal tracks. He asked some specialists who found out that the tracks
belong to dinosaurs. The only reason why the tracks had been preserved
for at least 65 million years is that they had been fossilised.
Lark Quarry - Facts about Dinosaurs
The story goes that there was a large dinosaur chasing many smaller
ones, which must have been quite a usual sight in the days when
dinosaurs ruled the animal kingdom. What was different about this place
was that not many tracks usually get fossilised – the conditions have
to be quite special. After the stampede, the muddy ground must have
been covered by water before oxygen managed to destroy the tracks. The
water must have been covering the tracks for long enough that sediments
were building up on the bottom, which finally turned into sedimentary
rock to cover the tracks. When the place became a quarry, the upper
layers were taken off and the dinosaur tracks were discovered. Today
you can see them in a building in Lark Quarry which has especially been
built around the dinosaurs fossils tracks to protect them from erosion.
There are guided tours which you can book and pay at the Matilda Centre
Opalton, South of Winton Queensland
Further south from Lark Quarry, there are more red soils and termite
mounds, before you come to Opalton - a community of a few characters
living in campervans or other very basic setting, and digging the
ground for mineral opal. Some sell opals too, it is much cheaper to buy
them here than to chase Australian opal earrings or fire opal jewelry
in the shops in town.
Opalton Shop - the Outpost
Opalton's only shop and caravan park (and the only construction that
can be called a building by the way) is the Outpost. It was for sale in
2006 when we last visited, but now apparently off to a fresh start with
new owners. That's a good news if you like to sleep in a cabin with air
conditioning, as all the other accommodation in Opalton is in your tent
or swag in the bush.
Back from Opalton to Winton Queensland
After Opalton, you have the last third of the loop road left which
takes you back to Winton. You’ll see some wildlife, particularly when
travelling later in the afternoon, although emus
are around even in the midday heat. Towards
the end of that road there is one of the Australian outback national
parks, the Bladensburg
National Park with a few good drives, an old
shed and homestead, and the Scrammy Gorge and Lookout.
Here's an Australian outback map showing
Queensland, where I have tagged the places that I mentioned on this web
page. You can click on the tags to see what places they are, and
double-click anywhere on the map to zoom it in and see the places
closer. Drag the map to move around, and if you want to see the
satellite image with Google Earth, click on "Sat" in the top right hand
This site uses
British English, which is the English we use in Australia. You will
find words like "traveller", "harbour" and "realise", and they are all
correct in the language used in Australia.
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