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.
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.