Thank you for joining me on my Queensland Outback Adventure!

We thought we’d play tourist in our backyard and visit all the places in our own state that we said we’d get to ‘one day’ and since overseas travel is so far off for most of us, I thought you might like to go on a virtual holiday with my husband and me.

Here’s our itinerary:

Saturday, April 24 Home to Chinchilla Motor Inn
Sunday, April 25 Chinchilla to Augathella Palms
Monday, April 26 Augathella to Longreach (Jumbuck Motel)
Tuesday, April 27 Longreach
Wednesday, April 28 – Longreach to Winton (Matilda Motel)
Thursday, April 29 – Winton to Blackall (Coolibah Motel)
Friday, April 30 – Blackall to Mitchell (Major Mitchell Caravan Park and Cabins)
Saturday, May 1 – Mitchell to Toowoomba (Platinum International)
Sunday, May 2 – Toowoomba to Home

DAY 5

Longreach to Winton

We left Longreach before 9am to head another 170km north toward Winton. I confess, I didn’t know much about this town when planning this trip but something caught my eye… opals. Queensland rock opals, amongst the most beautiful and most sought after in the world.

The landscape is stark out here, under the bright blue skies, the orange-red earth is scrubby and flat. In the distance, flat top mesas are the only elevation for miles and miles around.

These mesas are called ‘jump ups’ out here, because they appear to simply ‘jump up’ out of the landscape

Bright blue skies, scrubby vegetation, red soil and long, straight roads. We’re on the road again in the Queensland Outback!

Thank goodness for a comfy car with good air-conditioning! This is the view for the next hour or so.

Coming up quickly on a road train. This is a semi-trailer which pulls anywhere between three and four trailers. Road trains are between 33 to 50 metres in length. They really are kings of the road.

Oooh, what’s this?

But before we got to Winton, we took a 20km detour to the Age of Dinosaurs National History Museum.  We learned from the guides that, for the longest time, it was believed that Australia had no dinosaurs until a farmer by the name of Dave Elliot discovered a huge dinosaur femur in his paddock.

It turns out that the  Winton region was once full of dinosaurs. In other parts of the world these discoveries are made by spotting fossilized bone in eroded rock.

Not at Winton. The infamous black soil that sticks to everything also stuck to dinosaur remains. Black soil is described as self mulching. Rain carrying vegetation soaks into the cracks in the earth. As it goes down, nutrient rich decomposed soil comes to the surface and sometimes dinosaur bones emerge too.

They’re not kidding. There are flies everywhere! I accidentally swallowed one! You either let them crawl all over you or you wearily wave them away in what is known as the ‘great Australian salute’.

After Dave’s discovery ended up 1200kms away in the Queensland Museum in Brisbane, he determined that the next find would be kept local.  And what a find it was! Not one but two dinosaur species! A raptor and a sauropod at 25% and 35% intact, which apparently is quite remarkable.

Banjo, the life-sized raptor greets visitors to the museum which harmonises with the landscape. Some people get so excited that they lose their head!

The locals banded together to donate land and fund a museum of natural history.

A sauropod bone. An actual bone. And the ‘labratory’, in truth, a giant shed, is full of these treasures. While we were there, four paleontologists were working on removing accreted rock from the fossilised bone.

We took a tour package that took in the lab were carefully wrapped finds (they are wrapped in aluminium foil, packed in wet newspaper and covered in plaster strips to form a hard shell for transportation. When the paleontologists are ready to work on the find, they crack open the shell and carefully reveal the bone. We saw genuine dinosaur bones up close as well as the scientists at work. 

The second part of the tour was the collection room with the remains of the raptor, nicknamed Banjo after famous local bush poet AB Banjo Paterson and the sauropod Matilda, named for Banjo’s famous poem Waltzing Matilda. 

Our last tour took us about 1km on an open sided tour bus for a canyon walk filled with beautiful bronze sculptures of the dinosaurs, many of the life sized. We got a sneak preview of a new attraction, a 60 metre long dinosaur stampede full preserved. Again the find came by accident, a flood revealed it at Snake Creek. It had to be moved in order to preserve it and that attraction is scheduled to open this weekend.

The Canyon walk takes you on a journey into dinosaur territory with beautiful bronze sculptures and dioramas.

The view from the top of the Jump Up (Flat top Mesa) where the Age of Dinosaurs Museum is located.

At the top of the cliff is the building that houses the dinosaur stampede tracks.

The drive to Winton was only 20 minutes.  We’re staying at the Matilda Hotel, an older, but charmingly refurbed motel. 

We had to hunt for opals and the second place we looked in had some beautiful examples of Queensland rock opal. I treated myself to 3 pairs of earrings and for you I have a special gift.

UPDATE

This evening we dined at the Tattersall Hotel, a classic Aussie pub in every sense of the word. We felt like a light meal tonight and had the classic steak sandwich – two thick slices of bread toasted, a thin minute steak, grilled to perfection with fried onion, fresh rocket lettuce, sliced tomato and sliced beetroot. Served with beer battered thick cut chips and washed down with a Great Northern Ale.

We ended up striking up conversations with complete strangers – as you do – folk who have been travelling for months already and still have months to go and they’re from all corners of Australia, some doing the big lap, as circumnavigating the country is called.

After dinner, we wandered across the road to The Royal Theatre, the second oldest outdoor cinema in Australia built in 1918 to entertain the Cobb and Co passengers. Theatre burnt down in 1938 and rebuilt.

The Royal Theatre at Winton, the country’s oldest running outdoor cinema in Australia.

The foyer and former cafe next door form The Royal Theatre museum. All of the ephemera like these static promotional transparencies are very rare, so it is wonderful to see them on display

Winton at night. We strolled the main street after our night at the movies, before heading back to our motel room.

Seating is on the classic slingback canvas seats and the ceiling was the night sky above. I saw Orion from my seat.

Wednesday nights are nostalgia nights. It begins with the all rise for the national anthem God Save The Queen – all three verses – before playing vintage local ads from the 1960s, Cine Sound newsreel, a cartoon and a selection of comedy shorts.

Afterwards we were.invited to visit the projection room where they had a welding rod lantern for the glass advertising slides, a 16mm projector and 2 35mm projectors. To protect the delicate film stock, the nostalgia night presentation has been scanned and projected using modern digital projectors.

The Royal Theatre is a not for profit and is run by an amazing group.of volunteers.

Tomorrow, there are a couple more places in town that we’ll visit before beginning our return trek south-east.

LEAVE ME A COMMENT BELOW TO GO INTO THE DRAW FOR THIS OUTBACK PRIZE PACK

Contains:

  • Queensland boulder opal pendants
  • Coloured sands from the Winton ‘Jump Up’ Mesas
  • A canvas tote from Tambo teddies
  • An Australian Country soap
  • Post cards,
  • and More!

Winner will be announced in June’s Love’s Great Adventure magazine.