As we are coming back via Longreach we decided to push on to Winton. I booked accommodation from Longreach as a Festival is on next week and the town is likely to be full. Sure enough I couldn’t get into the first motel I tried but I managed to get a room in the second but it was the last room.
With accommodation organised we decided to visit the Australian Age of Dinosaurs as it is on the road into Winton. Wow! This is a first rate tourist facility – the vision of one man with a passion. The building is an architectural gem. It acknowledges the surrounding landscape and pays homage to local materials. It sits on a ‘jump up’ – a flat topped section of land raised above the surrounding land so it has spectacular views.
We went on the three tours on offer. We walked to the laboratory where volunteers are needed to painstakingly prepare dinosaur fossils for displays. Two people were assisting the lab supervisor, a former fruit picker with no formal qualifications but with eight years experience on the job and an absolute passion for his work. He joins volunteers on the annual 3 week digs which provide enough work for the following year. These volunteer holidays are very popular and are booked out 2 years in advance.
The second tour was back at the reception centre in the Collection Room for a slide show and a look at bones from three different dinosaurs on display. Two of these were found in a very small area and it is believed that the larger of the two was stuck in the mud, the smaller tried to eat it and was swiped and killed by the others tail.
On the third tour we were taken by shuttle bus to the future Natural History Museum site. A building in the same architectural style as the reception centre is already on site providing shade and facilities. An exhibit shows dinosaur bones in a muddy billabong as they would have appeared 95 million years ago prior to becoming fossilised in the Winton Formation. Walkways follow the Valley of the Cycads, the first of several Cretaceous Garden exhibits planned for Dinosaur Canyon. Along the way groups of different dinosaurs are on the rocks.
All the tour leaders were informative, polite and passionate about their jobs. I highly recommend a visit to this centre and children love it.
After a fabulous three hours we drove to Winton, found our hotel then walked down town. We stopped in Tattersalls for a drink on the way back and saw that Sax and the Single Girl was playing in the evening. We returned to the hotel later for dinner and the music from Annie was fantastic. She’s in Winton for 10 days. We had a fabulous meal – very large serves – with my favourite red wine, an unexpected find out here.
We went to the North Gregory Hotel to see what was happening there. The racing crowd was still partying on and I ran into someone from my home town so we caught up. This was a really fun night!