Winton

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Winton attracts grey nomads
The unique ‘Dunny Derby’ is run at the Winton Outback Festival PIC: Tourism Queensland

When Winton’s iconic Waltzing Matilda Centre was destroyed by fire in 2015, there were those who thought the remote Queensland town might seriously struggle for a while … but in reality the exact opposite has been true.

The disaster united the community of 1,000 or so in a very special way and, boosted by goodwill from around Australia, the rebuilt centre was re-opened just three years later, only bigger and better than before.

The rejuvenated attraction has attracted hordes of grey nomads and new visitors who love discovering the town’s local history and enjoying its hospitality. With some good caravan parks, interesting shops, and a full range of services, the town is a great base from which to explore the area.

Located nearly 1400 kilometres north west of Brisbane, Winton is the centre of an important cattle and sheep raising region, but it is its association with ‘Banjo’ Paterson and ‘Waltzing Matilda’ which really put the town of the map. Paterson was staying at Dagworth Station about 100 kilometres north-west of town when he wrote the immortal verses.

The song, based on the famous lyrics about the swaggie who jumped into a billabong, was first performed in 1895 at Winton’s North Gregory Hotel.

The new Waltzing Matilda Centre is apparently the first museum in the world dedicated to a song, and it uses state-of-the-art technology to tell the story of its creation and its impact.

The museum also informs visitors about the Winton roots of the Qantas airline, the area’s Aboriginal history, its opal mining heritage, and the infamous Shearers’ Strike of 1891. The strike, during which 500 shearers camped out for four months, is also memorialised by a Memorial Cairn outside town.

This, of course, is also dinosaur country. In 1962, a fossilised footprint was found, and this led to the discovery of the world’s only recorded dinosaur stampede, now known as the Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackways.

The Dinosaur Stampede National Monument is located at Lark Quarry Conservation Park about 110 kilometres south-west of Winton. Grey nomads looking to get their dinosaur fix closer to Winton love looking at the massive collection of dinosaur fossils at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, 24 kilometres south-east of town.

Winton’s rich history is reflected in its architecture, and a number of heritage buildings still stand today. The Corfield and Fitzmaurice building which opened in 1878, is a magnificent example of a general store. Also worth a visit is the historic Royal Theatre, one of the few remaining open-air picture theatres in Australia. If all of that isn’t enough to draw travellers to town, then the biennial Winton Outback Festival, most certainly should be.

While it promises quirky events, warm Outback hospitality, and nightly live entertainment, the festival’s highlight is its signature event … the uniquely Australian ‘Dunny Derby’.

Where else but Winton?

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