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Travel Australia with Kids

Friday 29th July 2011

Parmiss Keyhani - Sunday, July 31, 2011

Back into the wonderful oranges, blues and greens of outback country.  The nights and early mornings are quite cool and the days sunny and warm - it's a hard life, I know!  The drives between towns are quite long now. Stopped overnight at Cloncurry and stocked up on our very depleted food supplies, then headed to Winton on what is called the "dinosaur trail" (Winton, Hughenden and Richmond making up the triangle of dinosaur attractions in the area).  We had a quick stop along the way at McKinlay to photograph the "Walkabout Creek Hotel" from Crocodile Dundee - this was also where we suffered our first roadkill tragedy when a flock of lovely finches flew right in front of us and one of them crashed into the grill. We were so proud of our clean record up to then!

Winton is the town of "Waltzing Matilda" and in every nook and cranny of the town that they can think of, some reference exists to the famous poem by Banjo Patterson (he wrote the poem on a cattle station nearby and performed it publicly for the first time at the North Gregory Hotel in town). The Matilda Centre is a museum entirely based on the poem itself and the themes from it - such as the history and lives of swagmen, drovers and the outback life in general.  It's actually quite a good museum!  We also had a look at Arno's Wall - an odd but unique expression of art where Arno has cemented whatever he can think of and has on hand in a wall around his house.

We also got to experience the festivities of the Camel Races at Winton - I love the small scale of events in the country towns. They have such a laid back, informal air to them. There were perhaps 200 people there and the MC of the events was an absolute riot!  Our favourite event was the Camel Tag where contestants (just your average blokes) are put in a large pen with a camel and have to tag them with a strip of gaffa tape, which is the easy part, and then have to run back and grab if off the camel, which is the really hard part.  No one got hurt but those camels were not shy with their kicks!

We stayed at Long Waterhole a few kilometers outside of Winton - it was quite shallow at this stage of the year, but enough water to make mud for mud fights! Also a good free camping base to do our sightseeing, all of which were over 100km away, along very rough dirt roads.  We spent a day fossicking for opals at Opalton - it was hot, dusty and we had absolutely no idea what we were doing, but the kids (specially Tiran) were right into it and we managed to find a few rocks with veins of opal and one with a good sized specimen!  After the lucky find, Mike was ready to pitch a tent (as a few people were doing) and spend a couple of weeks looking for the "big one"!

The next day we made a trip to Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackways - another 100km-plus trip down a dirt road - where the footprints of a stampede of small dinosaurs running away from a very large one have been discovered and preserved.  This  may be something that would have been interesting to see on TV, but I was quite underwhelmed with the whole thing. Couldn't really fathom why this was important - we already knew big dinosaurs chased and ate little ones, so what was the big deal with finding their footprints?  I guess it's one of those things you like or not.

Hughenden was the next town on the trail - they have a big statue of a muttaburrasaurus and a small museum which includes facts about the discovery of this dinosaur in the area and a great 10 minute DVD about the creation of Porcupine Gorge, which is where we camped for 2 nights.  We spent an entire day down in the beautiful gorge (so picturesque) - it was a 1km walk straight down (which of course had to be climbed later in the day), but what a perfect place to have a picnic and relax.  We also had a visit at camp from the resident bettongs (small marsupials) which thrilled the boys no end.

Our last leg on the dino trail was Richmond and what Kia had been waiting for.....Kronosaurus Korner.  So many fossils of different types of dinosaurs have been found in this area - the majority of them by station owners mustering their cattle near dry creek and river beds.  They had a really great display about how fossils are found, cleaned, identified etc and a fantastic computer generated DVD about a Kronosaurus attacking other very large dinosaurs - the kids must have watched it a dozen times!  We tried our hand at fossicking for fossils too - Tiran found a great specimen of a fish jaw bone, but mostly we found fish scales and a few shell fossils.  It was too hot to stick around looking for more and we had a big day of driving ahead of us (nearly 300km) getting us ever closer to our next border crossing into the Northern Territory!

Walkabout Creek Hotel of Waltzing Matilda Centre - Winton, QLD (22July11)Even the bins are dino-themed - Winton, QLD (22July11)Art is art, I guess? - Arno's Wall,  Winton, QLD (23July11)
Even the sculptures are Waltzing Matilda - Winton, QLD (23July11)Waltzing Matilda Centre - Winton, QLD (23July11)Best fun to watch! Camel Tag! - Winton, QLD (23July11)Camel races - Winton, QLD (23July11)
Camel love - Winton, QLD (23July11)Sunset at Long Waterhole - Winton, QLD (23July11)How adorable is that? Daddy emu and his new brood - en route to Opalton, QLD (24July11)Fossicking for opals - Opalton, QLD (24July11)
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