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Remembrance

The landscape of western Queensland is dramatic. After a good wet season, Mitchell grass grows thickly on the vast plains. Elsewhere the land is stony and dotted with clumps of hardy spinifex. But if you’d travelled this way 95 million years ago, the scenery would have been very different. In the Mid-Cretaceous period forests of conifers, lush ferns and flowering plants covered the land, watered by rivers and streams which flowed into a huge inland sea. And it was inhabited by dinosaurs! 

In August 2022, we followed the Dinosaur Trail through western Queensland, on a route from Winton to Richmond, Hughenden and Muttaburra, all locations where dinosaur fossils have been discovered. Put your Australian Dinosaur Trail Pass in your pocket and join us on a journey back in time to the land of the dinosaurs. 

Julia Creek

The ANZAC Centenary Memorial Sculpture is a beautiful work of art located in front of the RSL in Julia Creek.

The Spirit of the Light Horse, created by artist Sue Tilley, features a life-sized sculpture of an infantryman mounted on a horse. Made from locally sourced metal objects, the man and his horse are intricately detailed.

Behind them, six silhouetted figures of the Light Horse Brigade prepare for battle. 

The soldier and his horse are so realistic it seems they might ride away at any moment. 

Even the expression on the soldier’s face tells a story.

Read more about the Australian Light Horse in Feathers In Their Caps

Sightseeing in Winton

The landscape of western Queensland is dramatic. After a good wet season, Mitchell grass grows thickly on the vast plains. Elsewhere the land is stony and dotted with clumps of hardy spinifex. But if you’d travelled this way 95 million years ago, the scenery would have been very different. In the Mid-Cretaceous period forests of conifers, lush ferns and flowering plants covered the land, watered by rivers and streams which flowed into a huge inland sea. And it was inhabited by dinosaurs! 

In August 2022, we followed the Dinosaur Trail through western Queensland, on a route from Winton to Richmond, Hughenden and Muttaburra, all locations where dinosaur fossils have been discovered. Put your Australian Dinosaur Trail Pass in your pocket and join us on a journey back in time to the land of the dinosaurs. 

Winton

Before we started this road trip you may not have heard of the outback town of Winton. It’s highly likely though that you’ve heard of the two Australian icons which originated here. Let’s explore the town and learn more about its famous exports.

We found the first on Elderslie Street at the Waltzing Matilda Centre, where a statue of the Australian poet A.B. Paterson stands proudly at the front door. 

The plaque below his likeness reads: “A.B. (Banjo) Paterson (1864-1941) wrote the words to Waltzing Matilda at Dagworth Station in the Winton Shire in 1895 to a tune played by Christina Macpherson. The first public performance was in Winton at the North Gregory Hotel on April 6th 1895. Waltzing Matilda is now known the world over as Australia’s unofficial national anthem and inspiration. During his life, Banjo wrote many poems about the bush and set the trend for Australian literature in its infancy.”

Inside the centre, the Waltzing Matilda Room houses a collection of Waltzing Matilda memorabilia, including a copy of Banjo’s original handwritten manuscript and more than 1,500 different recordings of the song. 

Opposite the centre is another statue dedicated to Banjo Paterson, depicting a swagman with his swag and billy. 

Further along the street is a memorial to the second famous Australian. This one acknowledges Winton as the birthplace of Australia’s national airline QANTAS. The company’s first office opened in Winton on 16 November 1920.

On the outskirts of town, a sculpture commemorating the founding of QANTAS is located next to a quirky tourist attraction which might also qualify as an Australian icon – the world’s only musical fence! 

There’s no charge to play the fence, 

and no limit on the number of participants, who can join in on a whole orchestra of unconventional instruments. 

Our day in Winton ended with one last iconic outback experience – a fabulous sunset over the vast plains of western Queensland. It’s no wonder Banjo Paterson felt inspired to write poetry while he was here.  

Stadium Walking

Come with me on a train ride. We’ll travel 4,352 kilometres across Australia from east to west, spending four days and three nights on a train 731 metres long. We’ll start in Sydney and stay in Perth at the end and along the way we’ll traverse deserts, stop in a ghost town and cross the mighty Nullarbor Plain. Come with me on a transcontinental journey aboard the iconic Indian Pacific! 

Indian Pacific Adventure #18 Optus Stadium, Burswood

Cricket fans will know that the first international test of the 2022 Australian summer is currently being played at Optus Stadium in Perth, with Australia taking on the might of the West Indies. Earlier in the year, several matches in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup competition were also played at the stadium, drawing crowds of up to 60,000.

With inclement weather forecast for our last day in Perth, we decided to visit Optus Stadium too; not for a cricket match but to go on a guided walking tour.

Optus Stadium is the home of Western Australia’s two Australian Rules Football teams – West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers. And, as well as the cricket, it hosts other major events including Rugby League and Union, concerts, festivals and shows.

At the time of our visit, the ground was being prepared for the Festival of International Football, with excited fans looking forward to Leeds United v Crystal Palace and Manchester United v Aston Villa.

Officially opened on 21 January 2018, the stadium boasts modern design and technologies. During the planning phase, the designers studied the world’s greatest sporting arenas and incorporated the best ideas from each in an effort to create maximum accessibility and comfort for all spectators.

Our guide was keen to demonstrate how this has been achieved and shared many interesting statistics with us. We learned that every seat in the stadium is at least 50cm wide with at least 50 cm in front for ease of movement, and each has its own cup holder. Every seat is also no more than 80 metres from a food or beverage outlet and a bathroom in the concourse.

There are 450 spaces with excellent views specifically allocated for people in wheelchairs. And 1,000 television screens are located around the stadium so fans won’t miss a minute of the action on the field.

After admiring the concourse with its abundance of outlets and bathrooms, we saw the arena from ground level,

in a general admission seating area,

and from one of the 84 private boxes.

We went into the Victory Lounge, where corporate guests are treated to gourmet dining and leather recliners.

While the seating in the media boxes might not be so luxurious the views are better,

but not as good as the rooftop seats, 42 metres above the field!

In 2019, Optus Stadium was awarded the UNESCO Prix Versailles for sport as the “most beautiful stadium in the world”. After spending a couple of hours walking around, we would have to agree.

Linking to Becky’s November Walking Squares

Walking Underwater

Come with me on a train ride. We’ll travel 4,352 kilometres across Australia from east to west, spending four days and three nights on a train 731 metres long. We’ll start in Sydney and stay in Perth at the end and along the way we’ll traverse deserts, stop in a ghost town and cross the mighty Nullarbor Plain. Come with me on a transcontinental journey aboard the iconic Indian Pacific! 

Indian Pacific Adventure #17 The Aquarium of Western Australia, Perth

Where in the world can you walk underwater?

At AQWA, The Aquarium of Western Australia!

The aquarium hosts more than 400 species of marine animals who make the oceans off the coast of Western Australia their home. The largest display, the Shipwreck Coast Aquarium, holds 3 million litres of seawater. A 98 metre walk-through tunnel winds through the aquarium, bringing people face to face with some amazing ocean creatures.

Smaller aquariums feature beautiful coral reefs,

luminous sea jellies,

unusual fish,

shy fish

and very grumpy fish!

Joining Becky for November Walking Squares

Kings Park

Come with me on a train ride. We’ll travel 4,352 kilometres across Australia from east to west, spending four days and three nights on a train 731 metres long. We’ll start in Sydney and stay in Perth at the end and along the way we’ll traverse deserts, stop in a ghost town and cross the mighty Nullarbor Plain. Come with me on a transcontinental journey aboard the iconic Indian Pacific! 

Indian Pacific Adventure #16 Kings Park, Perth

After such a wet visit to Rottnest Island, the sun shone brightly in a brilliant blue sky the following day – perfect weather for a walk at Kings Park. Located high up on Mount Eliza, the 400 hectare park includes the Western Australian Botanic Garden.

To learn more about the 3,000 species of native Western Australian plants growing in the garden, we joined a free guided walking tour. And, although the tour was scheduled for 90 minutes, our enthusiastic guide took us on a meandering route through the garden for almost double that time.

His passion for the unique plants and their environment and his stories of his volunteer work in the garden added a special touch to our walk. It was a privilege to see the garden through his eyes.

Kangaroo paws

Gum nuts and blossoms

Qualap bells

Geraldton wax

Red banksia

When our guided walk was over, we continued exploring the park land beyond the Botanic Gardens.

Federation Walkway

DNA Tower

Firefighters’ Memorial Grove

Pioneer Women’s Memorial

State War Memorial

Perth CBD and Swan River

Joining Becky for November Walking Squares

Do Quokkas Go Out in the Rain?

Come with me on a train ride. We’ll travel 4,352 kilometres across Australia from east to west, spending four days and three nights on a train 731 metres long. We’ll start in Sydney and stay in Perth at the end and along the way we’ll traverse deserts, stop in a ghost town and cross the mighty Nullarbor Plain. Come with me on a transcontinental journey aboard the iconic Indian Pacific! 

Indian Pacific Adventure #15 Rottnest Island

In 1696, Dutch sea captain Willem de Vlamingh landed on a small island off the coast of Western Australia. The only residents he found were furry animals he mistook for giant rats so he named the island ‘t Eylandt ‘t Rottenest (The Rats’ Nest Island). de Vlamingh described the island as “pleasurable above all islands” and “a paradise on earth”. He must have had better weather than we did – we went to Rottnest in the pouring rain!

Our day trip to Rottnest Island had been pre-booked as part of our holiday package so we had to go that day. We just hoped that the island’s famous residents, the quokkas Willem de Vlamingh thought were rats, didn’t mind the weather.

Our first activity was a minibus tour around the island. Although the scenery was beautiful, the rain meant we didn’t stay long off the bus. And, even though the driver kept a lookout along the way, we saw no quokkas.

After our soggy bus ride we walked to the shopping area at the Thomson Bay Settlement and, to our delight, there were quokkas everywhere! It’s forbidden to approach, feed or touch these native Australian marsupials but they’re used to people and were happy to pose for photos.

Even though their thick fur looked quite bedraggled, they seemed oblivious to the rain.

By mid-afternoon the downpour had cleared, so we explored the settlement. No one lives permanently on the island and most of the historic buildings are now used for holiday accommodation.

We even went for a short walk on the beach.

The quokkas enjoyed the break in the weather too.

Joining Becky for November Walking Squares

By the Light of the Moon

Come with me on a train ride. We’ll travel 4,352 kilometres across Australia from east to west, spending four days and three nights on a train 731 metres long. We’ll start in Sydney and stay in Perth at the end and along the way we’ll traverse deserts, stop in a ghost town and cross the mighty Nullarbor Plain. Come with me on a transcontinental journey aboard the iconic Indian Pacific! 

Indian Pacific Adventure #13 Rawlinna, Western Australia

After stopping at Cook in the morning, the train continued west until we crossed the border into Western Australia.

The setting sun cast a golden glow across the vast expanse of the Nullarbor Plain, signalling the start of our third night aboard the Indian Pacific.

Our next stop was Rawlinna, another small town founded in 1917 to service the railway. Unlike Cook, 34 people still live in Rawlinna. The train is a welcome visitor, bringing mail and vital supplies each week.

A line of lanterns guided us on the long walk from our carriage at the front of the train to the platform.

In the warmer months of the year, passengers are treated to an outdoor dinner on the platform. But on this cold winter’s night we gathered around raised campfires.

The train’s resident entertainer serenaded us with live music while the bar staff served drinks.

Music at a railway station in the desert, backlit by a full moon – a special way to end another day on the train.

Joining Becky for November Walking Squares

Ghost Town

Come with me on a train ride. We’ll travel 4,352 kilometres across Australia from east to west, spending four days and three nights on a train 731 metres long. We’ll start in Sydney and stay in Perth at the end and along the way we’ll traverse deserts, stop in a ghost town and cross the mighty Nullarbor Plain. Come with me on a transcontinental journey aboard the iconic Indian Pacific! 

Indian Pacific Adventure #12 Cook, Nullarbor Plain

It’s hard to believe the derelict town of Cook, named after Joseph Cook, the sixth Prime Minister of Australia, was once home to 200 people. Founded to support the Trans Australian Railway in the early 1900s, the town was a thriving settlement housing maintenance crews and their families. When the railway was privatised in 1997 the people departed, leaving the buildings abandoned to the elements.

With just 30 minutes to explore the remains of the town, everyone was quickly off the train. The buildings are now deemed unsafe so we could only look from the outside.

The swimming pool, a popular place in the extreme heat of summer, hadn’t been used in a very long time.

The discomfort of these corrugated iron jail cells must have been a deterrent against misbehaviour.

Even the ramshackle outdoor amenities would have been uninviting.

But despite the harshness of their surroundings, the people of Cook obviously had a sense of humour!

Joining Becky for November Walking Squares

The Middle of Nowhere

Come with me on a train ride. We’ll travel 4,352 kilometres across Australia from east to west, spending four days and three nights on a train 731 metres long. We’ll start in Sydney and stay in Perth at the end and along the way we’ll traverse deserts, stop in a ghost town and cross the mighty Nullarbor Plain. Come with me on a transcontinental journey aboard the iconic Indian Pacific! 

Indian Pacific Adventure #11 Cook, Nullarbor Plain

Welcome to Cook, a ghost town located on the longest straight stretch of railway track in the world.

This information sign, weathered by the harsh conditions of the desert, tells more about the town and the railway track.

Welcome to Cook, the Queen City of the Nullarbor, postcode 5710, population four.

You are standing alongside the longest stretch of straight railway in the world, spanning 478 kms. According to Australian astronaut Andy Thomas, the rail line can even be spotted from space, looking like a very fine pencil line across the desert. 

You are on the western extreme of South Australia on the edge of the Nullarbor Plain, a barren desert plateau twice the size of England. The nearest major town Ceduna is approximately a five hour drive away and the closest major sealed road, the Eyre Highway, is an hour’s drive away. How remote are you?

Adelaide-1188 km            Perth-1523 km

Port Augusta-826 km       Sydney-1984 km

Kalgoorlie-854 km           Darwin-2017 km 

It would be a long way to walk to anywhere from the Middle of Nowhere!

Joining Becky for November Walking Squares

Isolation

Come with me on a train ride. We’ll travel 4,352 kilometres across Australia from east to west, spending four days and three nights on a train 731 metres long. We’ll start in Sydney and stay in Perth at the end and along the way we’ll traverse deserts, stop in a ghost town and cross the mighty Nullarbor Plain. Come with me on a transcontinental journey aboard the iconic Indian Pacific! 

Indian Pacific Adventure #9 South Australia

As the train travelled west we sat for hours, either in our cabin or in the Outback Explorer Lounge with our fellow travellers, looking out the windows at the landscape.

Occasionally we would pass a tiny settlement in the middle of nowhere. We could only guess at their purpose – probably accommodation for railway, electricity or communications maintenance crews.

It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to live in such isolation.