With Australia’s most fascinating dinosaur fossils, internationally acclaimed opals and a tonne of character, this quirky little outback town is so much more than just flies and tumbleweed

A deadly snake had literally swum under the kayak and up over my back you can even volunteer to help uncover new bones! You won’t leave town without buying an opal.

The cooler months of the year make the perfect time to head inland and explore the heart of Australia, AKA the outback! And as far as country locations go, the heart of Queenland’s
outback, Winton, is a mighty fine place to start. With so much to see and do, it’s the perfect place to head for with a camper trailer in tow. In fact, chances are if you’ve been once, you’ll be begging to head back again to see everything you missed the first time. What’s there to do? Well, you’ll have to read on to find out!

No Dino-Snore

I guarantee the whole family, young and old will get a kick from visiting the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum. Set on a ridge a few kilometres out of town you’ll find this architectural masterpiece. Before I even saw any dinosaur display’s I was amazed by the buildings themselves. The way they blend and compliment the surrounding environment is incredible – almost as incredible as the ancient bones you’ll find stored within them.

While we were there, we were lucky enough to get a sneak peak of the now-open display featuring a stampede of prints. The prints of many different species of dinosaurs were preserved in an old creek bed not far from Winton. This 500t exhibit has been painstakingly moved piece by piece from its original local site and pieced back together by three scientists. Talk about a challenging puzzle!

I totally recommend a visit to the museum and tagging along on one of their tours. If you’re planning on hanging around a while, you can even volunteer to help uncover new bones.

Damn Winton, you’re old! 

One of my favourite gems is the Queensland boulder opal. Different to opals from Coober Pedy and Lightning Ridge, the boulder opal found in this region is mined from literal boulders, not seams. These unique, richly coloured stones have put Winton on the map,
internationally. Several miners sell their pieces directly to the public in the main street of town. But be warned, if you check out these shops you won’t leave town without buying a stone!

Not only is Winton known for being the dinosaur capital of Australia and home of the
gorgeous Queensland boulder opals, but it is also the birthplace of our unofficial anthem –
Waltzing Matilda. Banjo Patterson wrote the lyrics just 85km North-west of Winton, put them together with a tune from down south and first performed the song at the local pub. The sheep he sang about may not be in the area anymore, but you can still head down to the North Gregory Hotel for a feed.

Outback Oddities 

Once you’re done with the dinosaurs, opals and museums, don’t head off just yet. There are still some unique oddities to discover in town. One of my favourite places to show people is the ‘The Musical Fence’. It’s a random little spot where you can make music with the ramshackle instruments, which they’ve set up using old bits and pieces. You can even play Waltzing Matilda on the fence there.

Then there’s Arno’s Wall which is a must stop if you’re passing through. Made up of bits and pieces he’s collected in the past 40-ish years, the 70m wall is well worth the look.
Another place that’s currently in construction houses the outback comedy duo, the Crack-Up Sisters. They are building their base in Winton, and their house is an oddity in itself. I’m sure they have many interesting schemes planned for it in the future. I adore how proud the local “Wintonions” are of their unique vibe. Ask a local where you can find these spots and I’m sure they’ll happily point you in the right direction.

Outback UHF Ettiquette

It’s important to remember that when travelling the outback, you’re a visitor. Although at times tourists may outnumber the locals, there are many people who use and need the UHF in their daily lives. A little respect of this important tool goes a long way. It drives me nuts when I can’t get a message across to another truckie or stationhand because our usual channels are clogged with chit chat. Here’s a few tips on UHF use out bush.

 We don’t want to hear about your wife and kids. Only use ch40 for necessary contact with truckies.
 Keep your messages short and concise. You want to get your information across as clearly and simply as you can, especially in case of emergency.
 Watch your language. Each station has their own channel. You don’t know whose kids you’ve just subjected to your retelling of your wild Friday night.
 For your own safety, don’t give out any personal information. You really never know who’s listening!