Love Dinosaurs? Book a Motel in Winton, Australia and Sleep in Their Backyard
Winton could very well be called dinosaur central. The area has one of the richest dinosaur finds in Australia. The town has embraced these giants of the past in their tourism marketing. Walk the streets and you’re sure to find a dinosaur statue or sign along the way.
Finding Winton means getting on a train, plane or bus and traveling deep into Central Western Queensland. The closest town, Kynuna, is 164 kilometres away. If you’re coming from Brisbane, you have a 1,400 kilometre trip ahead of you. The closest major city is Townsville, some 600 kilometres away.
The Landsborough Highway, Route A2, goes through Winton, so driving is an option as long as you take proper precautions. That means carrying plenty of water, food and refilling your petrol tank at every opportunity.
Two claims to fame include being the founding city of Qantas Airlines and the place that inspired the song “Waltzing Matilda.”
Downtown Winton is almost a perfect square, roughly 6 blocks wide by 6 blocks tall. All the motels are clustered within a block of the Landsborough Highway. An exception is one property near the Matilda County Tourist Park on the north end of town. The dinosaur theme runs throughout most properties, whether it’s creative signage, souvenirs in gift shops or, in one case, a full sized dinosaur statue welcoming you to the property.
Things to Keep You Occupied
Lark Quarry Conservation Park – Dinosaur Stampede
All that’s left is the footprints, but the little bitty chicken-like ones being chased by the triple clawed big ones tell the age-old tale of predator and prey. Located just outside of Winton, this is very much a scientific work in process that welcomes visitors. The footprints are inside a specially constructed building. Tours are available year-round.
The park itself has hiking trails leading you past Coolibah trees, grassy plains and streams. Bring your own water though, because those streams are sometimes dry. Sunscreen is advised.
Australian Age of Dinosaurs
This dinosaur museum and archaeological laboratory is roughly 25 kilometres south of Winton. Tours of the specimens and the fossil preparation facility are available most of the year.
If you’re the adventurous type and comfortable being self-sufficient, you might try your hand at fossicking, or digging, for opals in Opalton, located 123 kilometres south of Winton. Opalton is one of Queensland’s largest opal sites, dating back to 1888.
The Winston Visitor Information Centre provides maps of the various fossicking sites and sells fossicking permits. You’ll need to bring your own food, water and equipment, and be prepared in case you want or need to spend the night. A campground is available. Let the centre know where and when you’ll be going and when you expect to be back, just to be on the safe side.
Spending the night in Winton really is like sleeping in the prehistoric past. The opals are older than the dinosaurs and a colourful bonus.
Wherever your journey takes you, make sure to contact local motels, such as Burswood Lodge, before arriving to find out about motel amenities and nearby attractions. This will ensure that you have a great stay.