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Sea Creatures

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. 

Richmond

If you’d visited outback Queensland 110 million years ago you would have found most of it submerged under what is now known as the Eromanga Sea, a vast inland ocean covering 1 million square kilometres. And if you’d gone swimming you would have come face to face with the huge marine reptiles and fish which lived in it. Where the town of Richmond is now located the water reached depths of up to 40 metres, making it the ideal home for plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs and elasmosaurids. 

Of course, people weren’t on Earth then and after one million years the sea and its inhabitants disappeared. But you can see the marine animals who lived in the Eromanga Sea at Richmond’s Kronosaurus Korner. The museum has the best collection of marine fossils in Australia, most found locally. Amazing displays of fossils, information boards, illustrations and models bring these prehistoric marine creatures to life. 

As well as these giant marine reptiles, large ammonites and predatory fish lived in the Eromanga Sea. 

While the Eromanga Sea no longer exists, there is a lovely lake at Richmond. Lake Fred Tritton, a manmade recreational waterway filled by the Flinders River, is a popular place for boating, swimming and fishing. And even though the water is home to 18 species of freshwater fish, you won’t come across anything as large as Kronosaurus queenslandicus!

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

Alive and Well

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

Visitors to Australia are familiar with our most dangerous creatures: crocodiles, snakes and spiders. Not many will have heard of a lesser known but equally fearsome animal which lives in the arid country around Julia Creek. Fearsome, that is, if you belong to this group of animals!

Julia Creek dunnarts, long thought to be extinct, are alive and well in north-west Queensland. They’re elusive little creatures, not often seen in the wild, but the Julia Creek Visitor Information Centre has a small population of dunnarts on display in carefully regulated enclosures. 

Also known as fat-tailed dunnarts, these cute little animals have two unique characteristics which ensure their survival during droughts.

As well as being feisty and tough, dunnarts are speedy. This little fellow moved constantly around the enclosure, searching for the mealworms his carer had placed inside. He was far more interested in finding his lunch than posing for photographs. 

Fact and Fiction

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. 

Cloncurry

After discovering some famous Australian icons in Winton we found more, one fictional and one a real person, on our journey north from Winton to Cloncurry. 

There’s not much to the town of McKinlay: a few houses, a couple of stores and a pub. So why do most people who travel the 348 kilometres between Winton and Cloncurry stop for a while? The big attraction in McKinlay is the Walkabout Creek Hotel, which made its cinematic debut in 1986.

The pub, originally called the Federal McKinlay Hotel, played a starring role in the first Crocodile Dundee movie when, in the opening scenes, Mick Dundee wrestled with an enormous crocodile. 

When the movie became a box office hit the hotel was sold and relocated to the Landsborough Highway and its name changed to reflect its fame.

Like our fellow travellers we stepped inside to see the collection of props and sets from the movie and enjoy a cool drink at the bar. 

In Cloncurry we went to the John Flynn Museum to learn more about another famous Australian, revered as the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. 

In the early years of the 20th century, the Reverend John Flynn saw the need for a medical service for people living in Australia’s inland. With the help of Hudson Fysh, one of the founders of QANTAS, John Flynn developed a plan for an air ambulance which would carry a doctor and medicines to outback locations. 

The first air ambulance took off from Cloncurry on 17th May 1928 bound for Julia Creek, 137 kilometres away. 

While the advent of the Flying Doctor Service brought medical care to the outback the problem of communication over such vast distances remained. John Flynn worked with Alfred Traeger, an electrical engineer from Adelaide, to develop a radio capable of communicating with people both on the ground and in the air. The first radio was installed in a Flying Doctor plane in 1934.

From that single plane in Cloncurry in 1928, the Royal Flying Doctor Service has grown to a fleet of 71 planes operating out of 23 bases around Australia. Hundreds of dedicated staff bring medical care to around 1,000 patients every day.

As we camped that night in an isolated spot near Cloncurry, we reflected on the vision and work of the Reverend John Flynn. We were almost 800 kilometres from the nearest city, and it was easy to imagine how grateful we would be if we needed the services of the Flying Doctor. 

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.  

Fossil Hunters

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. 

Australian Age of Dinosaurs, Winton

Have you ever wondered what a paleontologist’s job is like? The place to find out is the Australian Age of Dinosaurs at Winton.

As well as housing the world’s largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils, this outback museum also runs a fossil restoration and preservation program, manned by trained volunteers under the guidance of skilled palaeontologists. We were keen to learn more about their work. 

Our tour of the museum was divided into several parts. We started at the Reception Centre, where a life-sized Australovenator wintonensis greeted us. 

At the Fossil Preparation Laboratory, we learned about the process of locating and excavating fossils in the field.

Once excavated, the fossils are encased in a protective layer of plaster so they can be safely transported to the laboratory. 

Volunteer technicians work with painstaking precision to remove the rock surrounding the fossils. Hundreds of hours are spent on each delicate piece. 

We saw the results of this meticulous work in the Collection Room, where specimens of sauropods, pterosaurs and that fearsome Australovenator wintonensis are displayed. 

The next stop on our tour was the “March of the Titanosaurs” exhibit, housed in a purpose-built protective structure. Inside is a 54 metre sauropod tracksite dating from the Cretaceous period.  Two life-sized sauropods, just like those who made the tracks, stand guard outside. 

The fossilised footprints, laid down in mud by a large herd of sauropods, were discovered in 2018 in a dry creek bed on a station near Winton. Because of the risk of weathering, the tracksite was carefully removed piece by piece, and reassembled like a jigsaw in this undercover area in a three year operation. Along with the sauropods’ large footprints, we could also see the smaller tracks of turtles and crocodiles. 

 At the Laboratory, Collection Room and Sauropod Tracksite, we were accompanied by excellent guides who gave fascinating commentaries. For the last part of our visit, at Dinosaur Canyon, we were left to wander at our own pace along a raised pathway on the edge of the Jumpup.   

We stopped to admire the view before continuing our search for dinosaurs in the Dinosaur Canyon gallery. 

First along the track was this gruesome scene, titled Death in the Billabong. Depicting the skeletal remains of a sauropod scattered over a wide area after scavengers have done their clean-up work, the display explains why intact fossilised skeletons are rarely found. 

Next, we found a family of Pterodactylus enjoying the warmth of the sun, just as they might have 115 million years ago. 

Another exhibit took us back to the the dinosaur stampede at Lark Quarry, with coelurosaurs and ornithopods running for their lives from a hungry therapod. 

And, at the end of the pathway, stood three armoured Kunbarrasaurus ieversi, anklyosaurs which lived here in the early Cretaceous Period, around 103 million years ago. 

These realistic sculptures brought the fossils and footprints in the museum’s collection to life. And the dedication of the palaeontologists and volunteers who work here is the reason we know so much about them.

Joining Jo for Monday Walks

A Dinosaur Stampede

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. 

Dinosaur Stampede National Monument at Lark Quarry Conservation Park, Winton

Our dinosaur adventure began 110 kilometres south of Winton at the Lark Quarry Conservation Park, home of the world’s only known fossilised dinosaur stampede. 

A 700 metre walk around the site took us up onto a ridge behind the Trackways conservation building, which protects more than 3,300 fossilised dinosaur footprints. 

From here we could see the shapes and colours of the Winton Formation, a landscape created up to 98 million years ago and characterised by Jump-Ups; red mesas capped with hard weather-resistant stone. It was hard to believe this dry, rocky land was once covered by a dense forest of tree ferns and conifers. 

Then a short walk along the pathway leading to the building took us back 95 million years, to the day the footprints in the Trackways were laid down. 

Inside the building, we learned the story of the Trackways. 

The dinosaurs were chicken-sized carnivorous coelurosaurs and larger plant-eating ornithopods. A huge carnivorous therapod saw the herd at the water’s edge and attacked, causing a stampede as the smaller animals tried to run away. 

Thousands of footprints left in the thick mud at the edge of the lake were preserved by a unique series of events. A few days after the stampede rain fell, raising water levels in the lake and laying down a covering of sediment over the prints. Eventually they were hidden under several metres of compressed layers of sand and mud. 

Fast forward 95 million years to the late 1960s, when a station manager discovered what he thought were the fossilised footprints of birds in a dry creek bed. After a local expert identified them as dinosaur prints, the site was visited by scientists from the Queensland Museum. In 1971, excavations revealed more than 3,300 dinosaur footprints made by the coelurosaurs, ornithopods and the hungry therapod.

To protect the stampede tracks from the weather, a shelter was erected over the site and, in 2002, the Trackways conservation building was constructed. Made from locally sourced rammed earth, powered by solar panels, and equipped with water tanks and composting toilets, the eco-friendly building sits comfortably in its surroundings.

From a raised platform along one wall, we could clearly see how the stampede unfolded. The therapod’s huge footprints show its determined advance towards the lake while the  tiny bird-like tracks of the coelurosaurs and the larger ornithopods’ three-toed tracks are scattered in all directions, an indication of the panic that ensued as they tried to escape. 

A day out at Lark Quarry was a great start to our journey on the Dinosaur Trail. 

Joining Jo for Monday Walks

A Loo With a View – The Savannah Way Edition

Queensland Road Trip, May 2022

Let’s go on a road trip! Come with us to Townsville and west on the Savannah Way to Karumba on an adventure in far north Queensland.

Up in far north Queensland

there are lots of loos.

While some are new and some are old

they all have excellent views!

~

This interestingly painted loo

sits high on Castle Hill

The view of Townsville and beyond

Is sure to give a thrill.

Townsville, Magnetic Island and the Coral Sea

~

This loo sits at the base

of a volcanic crater.

With wallabies just outside the door

You’re surrounded by nature.

Undara Volcanic National Park

~

In Croydon, where the buildings

are beautifully preserved,

this loo’s no longer used

for the purpose it once served.

Croydon

~

The amenities are Talaroo

are brand new and top notch,

When the night sky glowed at sunset

we sat outside to watch.

Talaroo Hot Springs

~

This primitive old outhouse

might not be inviting,

but the pioneers who lived here

must have thought it was exciting!

Ravenswood

~

And finally, this toilet

inside the small blue shed

at the camp beside the roadhouse

filled me with dread.

“Thank goodness,” I said

When we pulled up for the night.

“We have a bathroom in our van.

I will be all right.”

Bluewater Springs

~

See more loos with beautiful views!

The original Loo With a View

Loos with views in Western Australia

The highest loo view in Australia

Loos with views around Australia

Loos with views – The Cruise Edition

Loos with views – The Hawaiian Edition

Loos with views – The English Edition

Loos with views – The Canadian Edition

Loos with views – The Kevtoberfest Edition

Loos with views – The Western Queensland Edition

or just search #looswithviews

More Than Words

Queensland Road Trip, May 2022

Let’s go on a road trip! Come with us to Townsville and west on the Savannah Way to Karumba on an adventure in far north Queensland.

Many of the signs you see on a road trip are purely functional. Road signs give distances, and the names of rivers and creeks. Every town has a decorative sign to welcome visitors and billboards advertise local businesses. We also found some more unusual signs along the way.

Outside a shop in Townsville:

If cars, buses and caravans are allowed to park in this street in Georgetown, this sign must be meant for other vehicles.

Perhaps this road train…

or this oversized load…

or even this truck with a gigantic mining vehicle on board!

Some useful advice at the Tourist Information Centre in Georgetown, if you’re carrying cow poo in your travel kit.

Everyone knows saltwater crocodiles inhabit northern waters, but in case you need a reminder, there are warning signs everywhere in Karumba. On the beach,

by the boat ramp,

even at the Barramundi Discovery Centre!

What’s the weather like in Karumba?

Make sure you top up, fill up and use the bathroom before you head west, because it’s a long way to the next amenities.

At the caravan park in Charters Towers:

And my favourite sign of our road trip! Someone with a quirky sense of humour composed this set of rules at the Burke and Wills Camp 119 38 kilometres from Normanton.

A Mosaic Story

Queensland Road Trip, May 2022

Let’s go on a road trip! Come with us to Townsville and west on the Savannah Way to Karumba on an adventure in far north Queensland.

In the park across the road from the Railway Hotel in Ravenswood there’s a remarkable piece of public art; a wonderful mosaic chair created for the 150th anniversary of gold mining in the town. Each detailed panel tells a story about gold mining in the area, with scenes depicting people and activities from the past and the present.

Historic mining locations are listed on brass plaques, while images of old methods of finding gold contrast with modern technologies.

Even the local birds are included in this amazing work of art.

Joining Marsha’s Photographing Public Art Challenge