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Winton is a small town in outback Queensland, famous for its link with Australian dinosaurs. We came for the dinosaurs and found that Winton had a rich history with a lot to entertain travellers to the region. Read on to hear about all the things to see and do in Winton QLD.
Australian Age of the Dinosaurs Museum
This is number 1 on everyone’s list and is totally worth the entry fee. At the end of our trip we rated it as the best Museum we visited and it was a major highlight of our trip.
It cost $115 for a family entry to the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum. Your entry fee includes 3 tours. One of the laboratory. One of the collection room. And one of the outdoor exhibition. It takes approximately 3 hours to complete the tours.
There are also tours available that pick you up from your accommodation and include all the entry fees.
I have never been to a museum like this one before. It is so hands-on. The museum is not designed to display things behind glass cases. They want you to touch and see and experience. An example of this – we all got to touch a real dinosaur bone!
I would recommend this museum to anyone heading to the area. Lala is 5 years old and found it a little bit boring at times, but even though she said she was bored, she talked about it for ages afterwards.
The Dinosaur Stampede in Winton QLD
We chose not to do the dinosaur stampede as it would have added quite a few extra kilometers to our Winton QLD trip. It is 110km one way to the display, mostly on unsealed roads. Google estimated it would take 3 hours one way. We decided that it would be too much for a day trip.
If you choose to skip the dinosaur stampede, the outdoor tour at Australian Age of Dinosaurs is a small reproduction so you do get a sense of what it is like.
There is a tour that you can do so that you don’t have to drive and I think that this would be a great option because you would be very tired after driving for six hours.
Australia’s Dinosaur Trail
It is possible to do the whole dinosaur trail, which includes Winton, Richmond, Hughenden and the Dinosaur Stampede.
We chose not to do this. We skipped the rest except for the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum. In retrospect, I think we should have taken the time, and spent the extra money to do it all.
We paid $115 for a family entry to Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum. For entry to all the sights (Flinders Discovery Centre in Hughenden; Kronosaurus Korner in Richmond; Australian Age of Dinosaurs in Winton; and the Dinosaur Stampede in Winton) the cost is $215.
Now considering what a highlight the Age of Australia Dinosaurs Museum was, we think it definitely would have been worth the extra cost. For more information on what is included and to buy a pass have a look at this website.
Waltzing Matilda Centre
As a part of our home schooling curriculum, we decided to teach Lala to sing Waltzing Matilda. We didn’t realise that so much of what we learnt as we traveled through the NT and Queensland would tie into the Waltzing Matilda story. As a result of this, she learnt about history, politics, geography and literature.
You may be surprised to learn that we decided to skip the Waltzing Matilda Centre. We had already decided to spend our money on the Dinosaur museum, and a family pass to the Wlatzing Matilda Museum is $65. When we looked at what the museum included we thought that we had already covered a lot of that with our own research so didn’t feel like we were missing out by not visiting.
If you have visited I would love to hear what you think about the museum in the comments below. If you are also thinking of skipping it, please see my next 2 point below.
North Gregory Hotel in Winton Qld
We camped at the back of the Gregory North Hotel for $10 per night which was great value. There is a maximum of 3 nights per camp. It is quite tight out the back (ie, no room to put out your awning) but we found it sufficient for our needs for a few days.
There are also rooms available within the hotel itself, so that is another great option, if you are not camping or caravanning.
The Gregory North Hotel was the place of the first public performance of Waltzing Matilda by Banjo Patterson. At 4.30 each afternoon, the hotel has a performance on Banjo Patterson or Waltzing Matilda (alternate each day).
We watched the Banjo Patterson one and heard a few of his other poems and also learnt the history of where and why Waltzing Matilda was written. We found it was a great alternative to the Waltzing Matilda centre to learn about Waltzing Matilda’s history.
It did become a little bit boring for Lala, however she did love singing along to Waltzing Matilda at the start of the performance. An orange juice and some colouring in kept her occupied for the rest of it.
Bladensburg National Park
We did the scenic drive through Bladensburg National Park and came across the Shearers Strike Memorial commemorating a strike which was held in the area.
We also looked through the homestead and the shearing shed. The homestead had some great displays on the history of the homestead and was completely free to explore and wander around at your leisure.
It fit right in with our homeschooling exercise around Waltzing Matilda and that period of history as it was a working sheep station and homestead during the period that Waltzing Matilda was written.
The Musical Fence in Winton Qld
A great initiative by the Winton Shire. Basically a whole bunch of junk has been repurposed and turned in to musical instruments. We spent more than an hour here and Lala and El Enrique got to bang on the equipment to their hearts content while I ran around filming all of their different creations.
An interesting wall full of junk. It was opposite where we were camped so we enjoyed having a wander around with our coffee in the morning and seeing what we could find. Quite a few motorbikes, a microwave and an old washing machine all went into the building of the wall.
The hubcap gate really reminded me of my Dad. I’m sure he would have loved it.
The Opal Miner on the main road offers this for free, but it is really a ploy for you to spend $10. Still it was an interesting exercise for Lala.
You can fossick through a container of rocks looking for rocks that had opal seams throughout. If you find one that you like they will cut it open for you for a cost of $10 and you can then keep the rock.
The Winton Outdoor Cinema operates on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday and is $8 per adult. They were not going to charge for Lala. We were all set to go for a show at 7pm. We were told it starts at 7.30 and to come back then. We were also told that tonight it would be a later viewing as a tour group was not able to get a dinner booking until later.
We decided to skip it after all as an 8.30 start is a bit too late for a 5 year old.
They show some old time programs like Laurel and Hardy. The cinema itself did look very atmospheric and there was a small room at the back with some displays on the history.
Fitzmaurice and William General Store and Museum
Entrance into the general store is free and is full of local arts and crafts sort of items. The other half of the store has been turned into a museum.
A gold coin donation gets you into the museum. We thought it was worth it as it reinforced a lot of the bits and pieces that we had learnt in the area. They had a small exhibition that looks at the dinosaur footprints at Lake Quarry, the history of sheep shearing in the region, and the history of a small town general store.
We found that this was the best place for a meal on the main street, and the rest of the people in Winton all seemed to agree with us. It was so busy! Lots of people were sharing tables.
I would recommend getting there shortly before 6pm as the tables seemed to fill up fast. They begin their dinner service at 6pm as well so it is a good idea to be one of the first to order if it is as busy as when we were there. They did seem efficient and people were being served fast. And we all enjoyed our meals.
The Longest Shortcut in Australia
Winton is the end of the longest shortcut in Australia, also known as the Outback Way. We traveled on the Western Australia side of the route when we drove down the Great Central Road between Kalgoorlie in Western Australia and Uluru in the Northern Territory. The second half of the Outback Way is from Uluru through to Winton.
Where to Stay in Winton QLD
As we mentioned we stayed at the North Gregory Hotel which was in a fantastic location right on the main road. They offered 8 camping sites out the back as well as rooms within the hotel itself.
There is also a caravan park which had a pool, which may be worth it if it is going to be hot when you visit.
Bladensburg National Park also had campsites which you can book online. It is a bit further out of the main town but is a good option if you like peace and quiet.
There are a few other hotel accommodation options as well.
Three nights in the town is just about the perfect amount of time for you to see and experience all the town has to offer.
How to Get To Winton
We travelled to Winton QLD via the Landsborough Highway, in from the NT, via Mt Isa to Cloncurry. When we left we headed towards Longreach, Augathella and Roma heading towards Brisbane. A large chunk of this route is known as the Matilda Way, which offers a lot more on the history of Australia’s unofficial National Anthem.
If you are travelling along the coast, the best way to get there is inland from Townsville. Be warned, it is still a 6 hour drive one way. Despite its remoteness, Winton is definitely worth the effort as there is a lot more to Winton than just Dinosaurs.