Alan and Christine Betteridge spent two nights at Winton, free camping on the banks of the Long Waterhole, 4km south of the town.
Alan and Christine Betteridge spent two nights at Winton, free camping on the banks of the Long Waterhole, 4km south of the town. Alan Betteridge

Caravanning couple camp by a billabong at Winton

TODAY we would say goodbye to Ilfracombe and head off to Winton, some 180km north west of Longreach.

The Landsborough Hwy, or as it is more commonly known the Matilda Hwy, is generally flat with only a few minor undulations and it was easy to see how driver fatigue could set in if you weren't cautious.

As always we made a number of stops along the side to take in the view or to just take a break and absorb the surroundings.

Winton is known as the Dinosaur Capital of Australia and the town makes the most of its reputation.

110km south-west of Winton is the Lark Quarry Conservation Park where the world's only recorded dinosaur stampede.

More than 95 million years-old, there are 3300 stampeding dinosaur footprints immortalised in stone.

If we had more time we would have made the journey but this will be something we will do in the future.

Everybody is pretty laid-back in 'Winon'.
Everybody is pretty laid-back in 'Winon'. Alan Betteridge

Winton's other claim to fame is its association with the ballad of Waltzing Matilda.

Legendary Australian A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson penned the ballad at nearby Dagworth Station in 1895.

The first performance of what was to become our national song was at the North Gregory Hotel in the same year.

At the Waltzing Matilda Centre visitors and locals alike can discover the romance and legend behind the ballad.

On entering, you are invited to pull up a stump beside the billabong in the theatrette where the ghost of the swaggie tells his version of the story.

The Billabong Theatrette uses state-of-the-art animatronics and special effects and is one of the highlights of visiting Winton.

The centre is also home to the interactive Home of the Legends room, the Outback Regional Gallery, the Qantilda Museum, dedicated to the aviation and pioneering history of Winton and a host of other interesting and varied historical artefacts.

We had lunch at the Tattersall's Hotel and were warmly welcomed by the locals and it soon became obvious who the real locals were.

I asked one chap if he had been in Winton for long and he replied: "Yeah, been here all me life so far, I was born in Winon."

Locals, you see, tend to drop the 't' and always refer to their town as 'Winon'.

We spent two nights at Winton free camping on the banks of the Long Waterhole, 4km south of the town.

We always find a certain kind of magic when camped by an outback waterhole as the evening approaches and the air is filled with the sounds of thousands of birds of every shape and colour as they make their way to the water's edge to drink and, for some, to feast on the insects that are disturbed by their arrival.

By nightfall, the clear outback sky changes from the pure blue of the daytime to become the home of a million stars and satellites can be seen making their way across the heavens.

The next leg of our outback odyssey will take us 360km to the west to the tiny outback town of Boulia, home of the mysterious Min Min lights.

Maryborough couple Alan and Christine Betteridge are touring western Queensland with their caravan in tow and keeping us entertained with their travel tales.



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