Sunday, January 4, 2015

This is Australia - As a Grey Nomand: Part 3 - Winton to Mt Isa Queensland

Feeling like I am on a roll today!

It was sad to say goodbye to Longreach, I suppose it was really the first place where we had heaps to do, all within a few kilometers, made some friends, where everyone was really friendly and lots of tours and fun things to do both day and night.

Where to next?  As I have said we really didn't have a plan, we would get somewhere, go to the tourist info centre check out what was on offer in the town and then the next towns so we would then begin to plan.  The night before we left, we would gather the maps, the travel guides, the tourist info we had gathered and work out where we would head.


Panorama of Lark Quary - Winton Queensland

So Winton it was to be as the next stop and less than 200 kilometers away, so a piece of cake, we were feeling refreshed and keen for the next adventure.  We hadn't really planned on staying in Winton for more than a day, but this is one of those towns that really surprises you when you get there and so we were here for 4 nights, and we were not disappointed, bored or lacking great things to do (if you don't mind some fairly big day driving).

When we hit town, it just felt full of excitement, we decided to stay at the caravan park attached to the pub as it had grass - ooooh grass what a luxury after nearly 2 weeks of dust and dirt plus it was cheap cheap cheap $20 a night I think plus you got a discount on your over the counter drinks at the pub as well - bargin.  

We were setup quickly and had finished by lunch time - we have now decided we don't need the annex and this saves us about 1/2 an hours setup time - it would some months before we would use it again.  So off we went to the tourist info centre which is actually in the Waltzing Matilda Centre, they do a good deal on visiting all the various attractions Winton and its region offers $120 for both of us to do all the various things - in comparison we paid $140 just to go through the QANTAS museum and $90 to the Stockmans Hall of Fame - so this seemed like good value.  

Winton has some great shops including lots of Opal stores which is nice to poke around in, but on this first afternoon we went into the Waltzing Matilda Centre (this is where the poem, song was written), and WOW it was so incredible, as I have previously blogged, I felt it was significantly better than the Stockmans Hall of Fame, and really captured both the pioneering world of Western Queensland and more current history, but the best thing was the Waltzing Matilda show, I literally cried it was so moving it was a lovely tribute to the words, to our country and to our past.  We spent most of the afternoon here and when we finished we went off discovering the town centre and poked through all the shops which were really varied, interesting most with some type of historical display, opals, mining displays etc so a fun filled afternoon.

If you have never been to Winton the one thing that defines it is its water - it is Bore Water and really pongs, makes for extremely bad hair days and gets a little getting use to, but to be honest it is a small price to pay.

Day 2 see us off to see The Stampede of the  Dinosaurs at Lark Quarry which was included in our ticket price.  Its a pretty long drive out of Winton around 110 kilometers so well over 200k's round trip, we got up early for the first tour so we could take some additional driving routes on the way back which meant it ended up being close on a 500k day again but it was well worth it.  Lots more dirt roads though

Shears Strike Memorial - Winton

Lark Quarry is fantastic, it is in a beautiful area, with wonderful views, and the Dinosaur footprints well preserved in an easily accessible and viewable area, our host for the tour was terrific and you could tell he was generally excited by telling you the stories of the Dinosaurs and explaining the various types that had dwelled  here all those years ago, and you really felt like you could see them walking around.  While a long way from Winton I would highly recommend a trip to Lark Quarry if you are in the area - after all Winton is a long way from anything, so why not go that bit further to see something really unique.  If you do miss out here though, there are plenty of other towns in Queensland that have Dinosaurs as past residence including Hughendon.

On of the things we like about the drive to Lark Quarry is it is a big loop to many lovely places and Winton has a great driving map available for day drives, it takes you through many places in John Williamsons song including along the dusty Diamontina River and Old Cork Station, there are great picnic stops everywhere as well as historical sites along the way.  We were not disappointed in the days long drive and it was really well sign posted and the maps where easy to follow.

The following day we did more of the drives, although those closer to Winton including the River Gum drive which was only a 60k drive, but full of interesting stops like Skull Hole which is a water hole shaped like a skull, Bladenburg National Park which is where they believe Waltzing Matilda was written, the river here was flowing and lots of people camping, fishing, painting, bird watching - Derek got out the Metal Detector here for the first time on the trip hoping to find something really old but no luck.  Other things along the way were the 1894 Shearers Strike memorial.  It was a beautiful day weather warm, relaxing and with some spectacular scenery. 

We did all the drives in this area and had a really great time, take your own food and water though no shops along this path, and ensure you have a full tank of petrol, we finished off our time in Winton with their annual drought night festival.  Lots of fun here, free food (thanks to the drought relief program), rides, drink, crazy cars, and can you believe it RAIN, so our first night in the rain - no drips in the tent though but it was a shame that it rained on their parade.

Overall I would rate Winton as a great place to see and visit, lots of lovely drives, things to see and do plus a lively town that is truly welcoming to visitors.

We were sad to say goodbye to Winton, but onwards we must go, so packed up and headed for the long drive to Mt Isa.  I haven't been to Mt Isa since my Yellow Pages repping days and got to say it hasn't changed, not much here and it really is a full on mining town.  We elected to stay in a cabin this night as we were heading off the next day - so another 500 odd kilometers to Mt Isa followed by a big drive to Tennant Creek the next day so wanted to be up and out by 6am.  Derek did however learn to crack a whip and if I can ever find the video I will put it in here, its pretty good.

Found it!

2 weeks now we have been travelling, time is going so fast but having heaps of fun now and really enjoying the freedom, also getting use to living with the basics only the first few days were hard but now its going nicely.

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