Our last blog brought you along with us to Winton, one of outback Queensland’s more iconic and historic towns.
After a night camped in a sheep station front paddock we got ready to head into our first booking for the day, at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs natural history museum. Our camp is 70km north of town and Winton’s two main dinosaur attractions are quite a distance apart, and we have booked to see them both today, so we’ll have around 400km to cover and will need to keep on our toes to cover everything.
The Australian Age of Dinosaurs facility is a working museum dedicated to preserving and displaying Australia’s unique dinosaur history. The black soil plains around Winton have revealed some world class dinosaur remains that only recently became recognised as ancient fossilised bones, until the 1960s most were just thought to be strange rocks that emerged from the paddocks after rain.
The site is still under development with several construction projects underway, and currently has three main areas; the main centre with displays and facilities, a preservation workshop and storeroom and an enclosure protecting a full set of dinosaur footprints relocated from a creek bed to this new site.
This is a great tour handled by friendly staff who are very knowledgeable and passionate about their work. It is a little slow paced for those wanting to be entertained but we found it interesting and educational, and wellworth the entry fee.
As soon as our tour was concluded we were in the Cruiser headed 140km to the Lark Quarry Conservation Park, site of preserved dinosaur trackways fossilised in rock and thought to be scene of a stampede caused when a predator chased smaller dinosaurs across a muddy river flat.
Access to Lark Quarry is down the Winton-Jundah Road, a gravel road that has plenty of corrugations and bull dust holes typical of outback roads. There was also plenty of road kill so we’d have to be wary on our return drive when dusk is approaching.
Lark Quarry is a pretty remote place for an attraction like this and we’re sure there are days when they have few visitors, but it is great that various authorities have taken so much trouble to preserve this ultra rare find that tells a story from eons ago.
The road back to Winton rolled out in front of us, and despite a desire to get to camp before dark I couldn’t help but pull over to check out another piece of old automotive carnage by side of the road…
An unfortunate sight along this stretch of road was dozens of wild dogs, perhaps dingoes, strung up from trees. They looked to be left by trappers or shooters, but to string them up beside a public road was pretty poor taste and we doubt it would help Winton’s tourism efforts – we resolved to let the council know our thoughts.
That evening back at camp we had another gorgeous technicolour outback sunset…
…and soon after that an awesome moonrise appeared too.
After another sleep under canvas today we farewelled Winton and headed across the black soil plains to home of Queensland’s most famous dinosaur of all – the Muttaburrasaurus. Muttaburra has a few strings to its bow – it is closest town to geographical centre of Queensland, is renowned for its many metal sculptures, and hosts the Muttaburrasaurus Interpretation Centre that explains life and death of the dinosaur. Its a little out of the way but Muttaburra is a town worth heading into if you are out this way.
From here we have a long run cross country, back down to Barcaldine, then head eastward on the Capricorn Highway for a few hundred kilometres. While our outback dinosaur hunting is over, tomorrow we search for something even older – sapphires in the Central Queensland gem fields!