Winton and the dinosaurs

We are here in the Dinosaur capital of Australia. It is called that because in the 60’s and 70’s 2 different farmers on 2 different farms in the area found interesting stuff laying around on their properties that ended up being dinosaur bones and footprints. Today there is the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Natural History Museum and the Dinosaur Stampede at Lark Quarry Conservation Park. We went to both over a couple of days and also looked at a few places around town. The museum was fascinating. This museum was the brainchild and vision of the farmer who found them David Elliot OAM who had a keen interest in such things and has turned this into his life’s work. His son now runs the farm. His idea was to keep the dinosaurs in Winton, NOT send them to the QLD museum in Brisbane and to create a world class facility to view them right here and re create the town. This town was in decline like many country towns in the middle of nowhere. He has become a local hero. The museum has the viewing room which allows you to see the bones themselves (not replicas like you see in many museums) housed in a special climate and light controlled room. A canyon which tries to recreate what these animals must have looked like among stunning scenery and the area where they currently work on new bones which they have a huge back log of. It was all fascinating. M

Above is the Australian age of dinosaurs Museum entrance and David Elliot

museum view
View from the outside of the museum

The guide was fantastic and a keen birder so Steve got a few tips while he was there. The location was stunning up on the top of one of the flat topped mesa’s around here called ‘jump up’s’ locally, with huge views.

Above are some of the birds and wildlife from the Age of Dinosaurs Museum (Wallaroo to prove that its not just about birds) S.

bone in plaster
At the site where they collect the bone-here Dicksie in 2011- they wrap the bone in foil then hessian then plaster of paris then transport it to the museum where it sits until they have a chance to dig it out of the rock that surrounds it. They have a huge backlog and are always looking for volunteers to come here and help them. They train you us for a fee. Quentin Brice comes here periodically and has a go. Concretion refers to the surrounding rock it is in before they wrap it for transport. I would love to come back and do some digging either in the field or here at the museum workroom.

Remember the fantastic Australian film Mystery Road that we saw Michelle? It was filmed here in Winton and surrounds. The series was filmed in the Kimberly. M

The next day we went out to the Dinosaur stampede. It was 1.5 hours driving to get out there. When you were here Denise and Chris is would have been all dirt and taken longer than that. Now it is paved about 50% of the way out. The museum surrounding it would also be updated. They have spent a lot of money protecting this valuable find. It is the only evidence in the world of a dinosaur stampede. No bones just footprints left behind in what would have been mud on the edge of a late. This whole area today is a mug bog when it rains as there is so much clay around. The surface dirt crack into deep cracks when it is dry like now and small animals like dunnarts etc shelter in these holes. M

dino stampede building
Dinosaur stampede museum which covers and protects the footprints

3 different types of dinosaurs stepped here. Perhaps the big one hunting the little guys, based on the ‘running’ footprints. We had a private tour as nobody else drove out today. Loving this personal attention. The tour guide usually guides 50-70 people each tour in the tourist season with 3 per day. She was so enthusiastic is was amazing. She lived on her own out there with the footprints as it was so quiet and staffed the shop,cafe did the tours, cleaned the toilets. I asked her if she said goodnight to the dinosaurs when she locked the doors at night and went to her little house nearby. “and say good morning when I come in the morning too!” she said. Sounds weird but you sort of felt their presence at lease without any other people around you did. We felt pretty lucky. M

At the other museum a recreation of sorts of what it might have looked like
Insidestampede shelter
…and here are the actual fossilised tracks at Lark Quarry Stampede Museum

Spinifex grass is the only thing that grows on the dry hillsides up these mesa’s or jump ups. It is hot dry country and everyone looks for shade. See the 2 walleroos huddled in the cave. It was about 41 deg and we did a little nature walk back to the car.

wallaroos sheltering

On the drive back to town we went to the nearby Bladensburg national park looking for water but there was none. We had a sandwich under a river red gum for shade in 41deg. This is another National park that used to be a station (sheep). We toured some of the old homestead buildings which housed the park headquarters. We just love old stuff and this station was still running non that long ago so was interesting to see as you could still enter the buildings. M

Another interesting spot for birds was the the old Pelican Waterhole site. It was the original site for the town which was only there one year before they worked out it flooded! They moved the town site to where it is now and called it Winton instead. There was still water in the ‘hole’ and where there is water there are birds out here! M


There are a few characters in town one of them being an old(now) German man from Bremen named Arno. He was/is? an opal miner who brings rocks back from his mine site in Opalton and uses it and stuff he picks up from the tip and has made the most amazing rock wall around his house. It is a wonder to behold and it would have taken many decades and back breaking work and construct. We really wanted to meet him and see what his inspiration was. The house behind the wall looked a bit scary. M

Other nice things around Winton town were:

water cooling ponds
water cooling ponds. Water for town is pumped up from great artesian basin at 80degc and in these open ponds cooled to 50deg before putting in the pipes. So the water you use always comes out of the tap warm all year round. It also stinks like rotten eggs. Birds love the ponds.

However the highlight of Winton for bird watchers are the attractively named sewerage ponds.  A morning visit there allowed me to add a few more birds to the list. S

Our favorite pub. Full of farmers at the bar with their hats still on. Interesting stuff to look at inside and history. Great Barramundi and a huge salad for me. Craving veggies out here!
old town bldg
nice old bldg on the main street
old house winton
gorgeous old house. Check out the lovely whirlybird on top

old house winton 2

north gregory hotel
Another famous old hotel the North Gregory. It was the fancy joint in town but nobody was in there. Art deco rebuilt after the old one burned down(2 or three times) Lovely to look at inside.
muso steve
Steve playing waltzing matilda on the musical fence. Found objects turned into musical instruments by some artists just sitting there waiting to be played.

musical fence

Next on to Longreach. Stay tuned for the termite mounds. Seeing if I can collect a few more before unveiling. M


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