Winton Queensland

Winton Queensland is an interesting outback town.

Winton is one of the most interesting outback towns in Queensland.

Like Longreach, Barcaldine 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 area.
winton australia
Main street. ©

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.

winton royal theatre
Royal Theatre. ©

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 centre
Waltzing Matilda Centre. ©

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 Winton. It 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.

jolly swagman
Jolly Swagman. ©

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 – worth it!

winton pub
A pub. ©

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 – Hughenden, Richmond and Muttaburra 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.

winton dinosaur
Dinosaur foot rubbish bins. ©

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 in South Australia.

winton opal factory
Opal Shop. ©

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.

opalton way
Termite mounds. ©

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
Lark Quarry. ©

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 in Winton.

winton to opalton
Way to Opalton. ©

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 outpost
The Outpost. ©

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.

emu chicks
Emu family. ©

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.

bladensburg national park
Bladensburg National Park. ©

Here's an Australian outback map showing Winton 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 corner.

View larger map

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