On the road to Winton. Even the trucks are bigger – four trailers on this one.
We had decided to free camp just east of our first Winton tourist attraction “the Age of Dinosaurs” so it was only a short drive next morning to make the 9am tour. Our camp, a well-appointed rest stop was pretty peaceful until a truck with a refrigerated trailer pulled up. Think loud generator all night and noisy engines first thing in the morning. Oh well, win some and lose some.
No trains on the tracks, just a few road trains thundering past.
The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum was perched up on a mesa (table top plateau) with great views of the surrounding countryside – beautiful despite being very brown. The first part of the tour was at the laboratory and focused on how they found and dug up the fossils and bones and then how the landscape looked 95 million years ago. Think 100m tall conifers with a fern-like understory (remembering grass hadn’t evolved then) and the banks of rivers leading to the huge inland sea. Then it was over to the collection room to see the finished bones and models of the three dinosaurs they’ve found in this region. The most complete is Australovenator, Winton’s equivalent of the velociraptor from ‘Jurassic Park’ and nicknamed “Banjo”.
Then it was into Winton proper to try and grab somewhere to stay. Ordinarily this would not have posed any problem at all but given this was the start of their biannual “Outback festival” week things were bound to be tight. Our back up were unpowered sites a few kilometers out of town out at the showground. We spotted this on the way into town and even at a distance this dust bowl did not look appealing. Luckily for us there had been a cancellation at a caravan park right in the town centre mere metres away from the festival action. Our thinking was the convenience would outweigh the noisiness – it did but only just!
Our first day was spent 110 km out of town at the Dinosaur Stampede – a collection of over 3300 95 million year old footprints preserved in the siltstone under an iron oxide layer. Only an improbably lucky sequence of perfect events occurred to preserve this brief moment of mere minutes in the mid cretaceous.
In the evening we watched Tania Kernaghan sing songs with local school kids as well as forget the lyrics to Waltzing Matilda – penned here by Banjo Patterson in 1895, then it was an indigenous group moving seamlessly from corroboree dancing to Singing in the Rain, Bollywood boogie, Michael Jackson and everything in between. Odd but entertaining.
James smashes it up at Winton’s Musical Fence – complete with tongue (for balance).
On our last day, Jules went out to Bladensburg National Park for a tag along photography tour whilst the boys and I enjoyed the festival. The best entertainment was on the morning we were due to leave. The army was giving rides in their armored personnel transport, The Roulettes flew into town to put on an aerial show, and Nathan Griggs, our whip cracking champion first seen in Mataranka, managed to sell Jules a stock whip! Both boys are now proficient.
Perfect subjects from the tag-along photographic tour around Bladensburg NP.