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.
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.