Nice looking town, a bit smaller than Longreach, but at least as nice. We stayed at the parking of a pub (nice spot, shower and wifi included!). We didn’t have much time on the arrival day. Just had a few drinks on the happy hour of the hotel/pub. We met some people living in Townsville having a bit of a trip to the countryside.
The next day we went to the Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum, national heritage and history (and other stuff they put in the name). It was a different museum. No displays, just 2 tours. But you have to know a bit of the history for that first. In 1999, a station owner was driving his motorbike around his ´farm` the size of 3 times Belgium, and encountered a rock which looked like a hipbone but was too big to be from a sheep or cow. So he went back a couple weeks later with the rest of the family, and they had a nice day taking pictures, digging some stuff out and sent it to the museum of Queensland. They were like WOW! This is a new kind of dinosaur! So they came and started digging as well and found a lot of pieces of a dinosaur which go the name Elliot (after the farmer). Then they dug more and more and found another dinosaur, which was nearly complete. They gave this one the name Matilda. It was of the family of the Saropauds, and they named it Diamantinasauras Matilda-ay. Right next to it they found another carnivorous smaller dinosaur which they called Banjo, and his species was also new so they got to name him: Australiavenator wintonensis (looked a bit like velociraptors in Jurassic park, velociraptors are the size of chickens actually, and a Trex is feathered and fluffy :P). Pretty cool that they get to name their dinosaurs. So dino digging is still pretty new here (15 years) so the museum was not that big yet. They put the museum on 4500 acres of land they got from a local farmer … . And so far there are two buildings: the gallery where they show dug up bones, and the laboratory where they prepare dug up fossils. We got to touch the fossil of a dinosaur even! Unreal!
So! Who are Banjo and Matilda? And that’s where we are staying now and writing this blog! Banjo peterson is the guy who wrote the song Walzing Matilda (unofficial anthem of Oz), which was preformed for the first time ever in the North Gregory hotel where we are now. It’s a piece of Aussie history, which is really important for Aussies. Lots of people come here to pay a lot to go to museums which tell about the Pioneers of this harsh country. And the tourist business is also clearly focussed on these people. Many of them are travelling in big caravans, and are called grey nomads (sold house and now touring for years and years in caravans). This small town where we are now (Winton) has 300 ppl, but 3 hotels, 3 motels and 3 caravan parks.
Another story is how Winton got its name. The first guy who came to live here, Mr Allen, a former police agent, became the unofficial postmaster. The place was first called Pelican waterhole, but it was very tiring to write that on every stamp to cancel its value, so he got to choose a name for the town, and called it Winton after his birthplace in England!
Another interesting fact is the land here. So dry everywhere, but every town has an abundance of water thanks to the Great Artesian Basin, a great sea (or lake) some kms under the ground. Every town has a bore that gushes out hot water, so they all have rose gardens, and a pool. No water shortage for the ppl!
It hasn’t rained here for three years now, and the land is pretty dry, but we have been told that when it rains, the soil is so superfurtile here (black soil) that the whole area looks green within a week. Apparently you also get bogged if there is as much as 10 mm of rain. Interesting :D! And Winton was the town were QANTAS (Australias airline) got founded officially, their basis of operation was in Longreach. There original name was Queensland And Northerns Territory Airline Service, and they started by bringing the mail and doctors around to the outback regions of Queensland and NT. And so every small town has its own airport, that’s how they get stuff here.
To finish this post one funny, and a bit sad, story about an Emu (of which we’ve seen a couple now) on the island of Percy where we were on the boat trip. Apparently someone once dropped a male Emu on the island. As he was alone for a very long time, every time a boat came, he was running up and down the coast hoping that they brought a female. But as this didn’t happen the horny Emu started humping ppl, with a special interest for people on ladders. One day however, a guy on a ladder was working on trees with a chainsaw and as the Emu started humping him, he turned around and … . That was the sad end of the Emu on Percy island .
On our last (Friday) day in Winton they had a party with a DJ, so we decided to stay and check it out. That was only in the evening though, so before that we went to the Blandenburg national park for a safari drive. There were no walks in the park, just a 40km gravel drive. We saw some historical sites, graves and stuff (but not much left from the old times). There were Emus there, lots of kangaroos, and Brolgas. Otherwise the park was dry and a bit dusty, however it had some waterholes and creeks. Miraculously they had water although in the creeks despite it being dry for 3 years.
We saw a lot of kangaroos, wallabies and different kind of birds. Christophe really enjoyed the drive as it was almost like a 4WD safari (without a 4WD) .
In the evening, we went to the hotel acros the street with the very energetic bartender Ami, and a cowboy called Iggie travelling around, and photographing birds. Edda got some pics with his cowboy hat! The party in the hotel with the DJ was rubbish.