Winton Wonderland - June/July 2010
28th July 2010
We spent ten glorious days trekking through the true Australian outback in the June/July holidays this year, in search of all things dinosaur related. I was true to form and was a great, cheery little traveller in the car.
In stark contrast to our trip last year to the snow, I now no longer have a daytime nap and so Mama & Dada weren't sure how I'd go in the car on some of the very long driving days (9 hours driving is a very very long time for a 3 year old with more energy than he knows what to do with). I had gotten a bit sick and was under the weather before we left though which, as it turned out, was a blessing. The long days in the car meant that I actually rested and so by the time we hit Longreach and started the holiday proper, I was on the mend and raring to go.
By far the highlight of the holiday for me was Airlie Beach, but I also really loved the dinosaur stuff in between. Mama's favourite time out of the entire holiday was the day she & I spent together in Winton when Dada & Jack went to the museum as helpers. She was not looking forward to whiling away a whole day in a tiny town which everyone had described with less than glowing reports. To her surprise, Winton was lovely and the day passed too quickly for both of us!
I held up on the long driving days very well and tried my best to join in on the eye spy games. I sung along happily to some new tunes Jackie & I requested, my favourite of which was "The Underpants Song" by Zippity 2 Dads. I am still to be found wondering around the house now singing "Has anybody seen my undies, they seem to be lost", to everyone's amusement.
To distract us Mama & Dada drew our attention to everything that ever cropped up outside our windows. Sometimes it was worth the excitement of their shouts (like when we saw emus!) and other times, not so much (after a while, you get used to the kangaroos). I did however get very good at joining them in their quest and towards the end of the journey would yell "cows out Sammie's window" whether there were cows there or not!
The trips in the car were a bit like a long haul plane flight. First Mama would bring out the lunch box and we'd talk about what was in there, then she'd take forever to peel the fruit and then finally, we'd get little snacks along the way to our destinations. In that way, we seemed to eat every time we got in the car and I'm finding it a bit tough to make the journey to and from school each day now without a little something to distract me from the trip!
The trip from Brisbane to Longreach took us a couple of days and we stayed overnight in the wonder that was Chinchilla. Quite frankly, I think we'd all be pretty happy if we never have to set foot inside the boundaries of Chinchilla again. Our accommodation along the trip was a bit tricky - we had to have family rooms which greatly reduced the motels we could choose from. Sometimes it felt like those hotels hadn't quite been dusted properly since the time of the dinosaurs...... (Chinchilla was one of those places!).
Brisbane - Longreach
However, Chinchilla did have a great park going for it which I appreciated a lot. It also had a giant kangaroo statue which I found a little unnerving and wasn't particularly keen to pose next to. After all, I'd seen kangaroos all day out my window and this one looked a tad too freaky!
I quite liked Longreach (in fact, we all did). Whilst I found the School of Distance Education a bit challenging (the movie they wanted us to watch was VERY long...), I really enjoyed the Qantas Museum. Mostly though, I enjoyed our cabin and was more than happy to play Thomas out on the deck watching the million and one cockatoos fly home each evening. You can take the boy away from the train table....
The whole purpose of our trip these holidays was to explore The Dinosaur Trail which links Winton to Hughenden and Richmond. All of these towns are tiny little places (with literally nothing for hundreds of kilometres in between them) which have shot to fame in the past few years with the discover of more and more dinosaur bones in the district. To their credit, these towns have seen the tourist opportunities these discoveries have afforded them and have latched onto them for dear life!
Winton - Dinosaur Land
Winton is really the biggest of these towns and the centre of dinosaurmania. Elliot, Clancy, Banjo & Matilda are huge sauropods which were all discovered in the region and are now housed in The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum. In addition, Lark Quarry is home to the only evidence in the world of a real dinosaur stampede. I was pretty impressed when I saw the footprints and Mama explained to me that a real T-Rex made them and wanted a closer look. Unfortunately that request was declined by the man in charge....
Dada & Jack spent one of our Winton days out at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum prepping a dinosaur bone. They took the car with them, leaving Mama & I stranded in Winton with no means of esccape. Lucky for us, we had a ball.
We spent the morning playing in Winton's one and only park. When the park was getting too sunny we then made ourselves known to the locals by trekking from one end of town to the other to try and buy some bread from either of the two general stores. Alas, bread was not to be found - it hadn't been trucked in for the week yet and so it was off to the cafe for lunch. Unfortunately, the great bread shortage continued there when Mama was told she couldn't order toast for me because the toaster had been turned off but that I also couldn't have a sandwich because the bread was too stale (and, of course, the new bread was on that same truck!). It was all a bit ridiculous for us city folk and Mama kept wondering if there was going to be a candid camera somewhere for all the regulars to fall about laughing at after we'd left town.
When we finally sorted out some carbohydrates for lunch (the bread truck arrived just in the nick of time, thankfully!), we went back to the motel for a bit of a rest. Rest-time over it was time to head out to Winton's Musical Fence. I could have stayed at the musical fence all day, I loved it so much. In the end, Mama practically had to pry me away with the gleaming promise of visiting the truck museum next door. Yes, that's right, a truck museum!!!. It was the icing on the cake for me and we really did have a sensational day together just walking, playing and exploring. Ironically, we didn't get through all the "sights", so we'll have to go back again another time!
After our stay in Winton we headed overnight to Hughenden with a side trip out to Kronosaurus Korner in Richmond. The museum out in Richmond was devoted to marine dinosaurmania and was really quite interested. I was particularly fond of the handheld audio speaker I got to take around with my during the tour but even more fond of the sandpit area we found out the back which was full of fossils just waiting to be discovered!
Upon our return to Hughenden we headed up to Mt. Walker to watch the sunrise which I proclaimed as "oh so pretty. The next morning we checked out the sites in Hughenden itself where I was mawled by a Muttaburrasaurus (I was playing underneath a fibreglass statue and ran straight into the side of it, rewarding myself with a giant egg on the head.) It was an impressive way to end the dinosaur part of our holiday.
Airlie BeachFor me, the best part of the holiday started when we reached Airlie Beach. I'm a beach kid - give me a bucket and a spade, feed me a sandwich every now and then and I'll happily spend days on end just playing in the water & the sand. Airlie Beach was a fabulous change of pace for us all - we just relaxed for a few days and chilled out. So much so, that everyone in our family is voting that next year's holiday is a beachside one!
We spent a few days catching some sun and catching up on some sleep before heading back to Brisbane. We took two days to make our way back which was still quite a break neck pace. We proved again though that we really are travelling troopers - the promise of home & returning to lovely Louis (who I'd missed quite a lot) was so great that we were happy to sit in the car and sing our way back to Brisbane!