Dinosaurs, Opals & Waltzing Matilda: An Outback Itinerary around Winton, Queensland
Outback Queensland Trip Itinerary - Winton
Winton is well known as the home of Waltzing Matilda and it’s a great base to explore some of the stunning central Queensland outback. Wikicamps will give you a few options of places to stay but we recommend Winton Van Park behind the Pelican Fuel Stop. Despite the name, they accommodate tents too, and the location is handy for pubs restaurants and shops.
We need to talk about the water in Winton as it has an unmistakeable smell. It’s sourced from the great Artesian bore and there’s no getting away from the sulphurous rocks it is channelled through. Its perfectly safe, just don’t imagine there’s a plumbing problem in the amenities.
From the campground it’s a five minute walk into the centre of town where you can have a wander around the artworks celebrating Winton’s famous poem.
There’s also some impressive heritage architecture including the North Gregory Hotel where Banjo first performed Waltzing Matilda. It’s worth going inside to see the glass etchings of scenes from the poem by Daphne Mayo. She went on to sculpt the frieze above the columns on the front of Brisbane City Hall.
A must see attraction is the Waltzing Matilda Centre. Newly refurbished since a fire gutted the original centre, it is a fantastic museum. State of the art technology tells the story of the poem alongside the indigenous and industrial history of the region. It’s well worth the entrance fee and you can spend a few hours there.
One interesting exhibit covers how often Winton has been used as a backdrop to films. The surrounding landscape is quintessentially Outback Australia and has been as important as the actors as films such as; ‘The Proposition’ and ‘Mystery Road’.
You can also watch the movies in Winton at The Royal Theatre’s open air cinema, and if you’re there in late June there’s the Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival. For more information on the many activities and festivals in Winton check out Experience Winton.
There’s plenty of options for eating in Winton. Why not try an Aussie BBQ and if you’re there on the right night, free musical entertainment, at the Winton Hotel.
From Winton it is a 120km drive down mostly unsealed roads to Opalton. You can get directions from the Visitor Information Centre at the Waltzing Matilda Experience. Google Maps tells you it takes you five hours to get there, but we did the drive in less than three. The road has a few bumps and sharp stones so it’s worth dropping your tyre pressure a few pounds. However, we only needed to flick into 4WD High a couple of times, no low range required.
There are still miners on claims at this community and you’ll see their DIY dwellings as you drive in. If you keep driving to the other side of Opalton you’ll pick up signs to the bush camp. This was one of our most pleasant surprises on our Outback travels. For a $2.50 donation per person per night you can use a very well equipped camp with shade sheds for dining in and plenty of fire pits. There’s even flushable toilets and hot showers. You do have to light a fire under the donkey boiler for the showers though. A fantastic place to sit back at night and enjoy the stars.
Continuing on the dirt loop will bring you round heading back towards Winton. About 2 hours from Opalton bush camp is the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument at Lark Quarry. We were blown away by this. We thought that maybe we’d have to squint a bit to try and believe we could see a dinosaur footprint but we couldn’t have been more wrong. The evidence of the stampede is awesome. We couldn’t believe it was 100km down a dirt track from Winton in basically a glorified tin shed. In America there would be a six lane highway leading here to a theme park celebrating the magnificence of the stampede. Typical Aussie understatement.
From Lark Quarry it’s another couple of hours back on the dirt to Winton. You could stay another night or two or continue on to other great Outback towns such as Longreach or Barcaldine. If you’re in Central West Queensland we think you should definitely take 3 or 4 days to explore Winton, Opalton and Lark Quarry.
Article written by Andy and Jane Bridges
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