We’ve summarized the following short and crisp 10 Highlights in Winton that you absolutely must see.
The cute little outback town of Winton, Queensland, has 1600 inhabitants and is located on the Matilda Highway, between Longreach and Kynuna.
For me, Winton was on my outback list because it is the place where the airline QANTAS was “born”. As a huge fan of planes, airports and everything related to flying, that was a good enough reason to stop here.
Another reason is that Winton is in the “Dinosaur Bermuda Triangle“. And if you want to see something that you can’t see anywhere else in the world, then Winton is definitely your place.
1. Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service
In November 1920, the airline was first registered in Winton. The airline’s idea originated in Cloncurry and QANTAS (Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service) first flight departed from Longreach. That’s why they say: “Conceived in Cloncurry, born in Winton, grew up in Longreach”.
Unfortunately, we found nothing more about QANTAS in Winton other than a Memorial Stone. But the history and knowledge that the second oldest operating airline in the world was born here, was worth walking through Winton’s streets.
2. Waltzing Matilda Centre
A B (Banjo) Paterson wrote the national song “Waltzing Matilda” in 1895 and played it at the North Gregory Hotel. The song is the unofficial anthem of Australia.
Waltzing meant to travel on foot, and Matilda was the bag that was carried on your back with all the belongings you needed while traveling. The song embodies the typical life in the Outback.
3. North Gregory Hotel
“The heart of Winton’s history”! The hotel, which is also known as the “Queen of the Outback”, has burnt down three times in the past. And each time it has been rebuilt. The last time it was rebuilt using brick, as can be seen today. The unofficial anthem of Australia, “Waltzing Matilda“, was played here for the first time. The North Gregory Hotel is also where QANTAS came to life. Even today, the hotel is a popular and cozy meeting place in a prime location. And who knows… perhaps another groundbreaking idea is bubbling in one of the conference rooms and will have its origins here.
4. Corfield & Fitzmaurice Building
The Corfield & Fitzmaurice Building is one of Australia’s best-preserved General Stores and is a heritage-listed building. Even from a distance, it is an eye-catcher with its old fashioned letters on the blue-painted house facade.
5. Royal Open Air Theatre
The Royal Open Air Theatre is still in use today. The Splendid Outback Film Festival was running while we were in Winton, and the entrance to the Royal Open Air Theater was lined with a red carpet. Unfortunately, we didn’t get tickets, but we really enjoyed the whole ambiance.
6. Arno’s Wall
Arno’s Wall is one of the quirky things that you find here and there in the Outback. It is a 2-meter-high and over 70-meter-long fence, that was built with all kinds of gadgets and is a popular photo motif.
7. Willie Mar Heritage Site
In 1923, this Chinese market that sold fresh fruits and vegetables was founded by Willie Mar. It was later taken over by his son until a flood completely destroyed the garden in 2000.
Chinese history is displayed here at the Willie Mar Heritage Site. For example, how irrigation systems and chicken cages were built.
8. Musical Fence
The Musical Fence is a wire fence that can be used as a musical instrument. It is the first permanent musical fence in the world. Try your musical talent out on one of the instruments; it is definitely a lot of fun! By the way, standing right next to the fence you will find the QANTAS Airfield Commemorative Cain.
9. Winton’s Diamantina Heritage Truck & Machinery Museum
On a large area right next to the musical fence is Winton’s Diamantina Heritage Truck & Machinery Museum, where you can admire automobiles from different years.
10. Part of the Dinosaur Trail
Dinosaur Stampede at Lark Quarry Conservation Park
Just outside of Winton is the Dinosaur Stampede at Lark Quarry Conservation Park. The road is very bumpy and dusty, but the two-hour (one way) drive is definitely worth it! In 1962, the footprint of a dinosaur was found here. Later, over 3300 footprints that show the panicked stampede of chicken-sized dinosaurs were discovered!! These footprints are 95 million years old. Hard to imagine, right?! Winton is the only place on the planet where stampeding dinosaurs’ footprints are found!
Australian Age of Dinosaurs
13 kilometers south of Winton stands the Australian Age of Dinosaurs, the largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils. The museum was built on an ancient plateau called the “The Jump-Up”, which not only to provides spectacular views but also captures the scenery of the time, when these giants were still roaming the earth.
Facts about Winton
The Australian Hotel offers free camping for campers and is happy if you eat or drink in the restaurant. There are toilets, but no showers. The North Gregory Hotel costs 15 dollars a night for a parking space and offers toilets and showers.
By the way, you can take a shower free of charge at Hollow Log Park. There is only cold water and the showers have shower curtains, but no doors.
Tropical climate, largest rainfall is in January and February
Summer: October to March
Winter: April to September
If you want to visit all of the dinosaur stops (Hughenden, Richmond, and Winton), get the Dinosaur Pass to save money. There are different tours. Which one is the best fit for you, can be found here: https://australianageofdinosaurs.respax.com/public/shelf
Tip: the tours are always quite full, but with the Express Tours you should always find a place. If you are told that the tours are fully booked, just ask for an express tour.
Winton’s water smells! This is because the water comes directly from The Great Artesian Basin, which is rich in minerals and hydrogen sulfates.
What to do around Winton
Bladensburg National Park
Opalton for opal fossicking