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To be truthful when we started our trip, we did not know a lot about Winton Queensland. What we did know was that the town was famous for its dinosaurs and that was enough for us to put Winton on our list of places to visit on a Queensland road trip.
Like many of our travels we did not have a plan and were happy to discover the things to do in Winton QLD on our own timeframe. What we found was an extraordinary outback Queensland town with connections to the poet Banjo Paterson and one of Australia’s most beloved ballads “Waltzing Matilda”. So, come along with us as we show you what to do in Winton QLD
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Where is Winton QLD
Winton is located on the Landsborough Highway in Central West Queensland. Longreach is the closest major town to Winton. The Longreach to Winton drive distance is 180km and takes around 2 hours to complete.
To help you understand the vastness of Queensland we have included a list of distances to Winton from other popular Queensland destinations below.
- Brisbane to Winton – approximately 1,500km (depending on route)
- Rockhampton to Winton – 865km
- Townsville to Winton – roughly 600km (depending on route)
- Cairns to Winton – around 800km (depending on route)
- Mt Isa to Winton – 472km
- Cloncurry to Winton – 347km
- Hughenden to Winton – 216km
Weather in Winton QLD
The most popular time to visit Winton is during the winter months between April and September. At this time of year, the days are warm with an average maximum temperature of roughly 23 Celsius and average minimum temperature of 11 Celsius at night. Just be aware that in winter temperatures can drop to around minus 1 Celsius on the coldest nights.
Summer is between October to March with an average maximum temperature reaching 36 Celsius, average minimum temperature is around 21 Celsius. During the hot summer weather Winton can reach scorching temperatures of 47 Celsius at its hottest.
The region experiences a northern monsoon season with most rain falling in January to February and may be subject to flooding during this time of year.
For such a small town you will be surprised by the number of Winton tourist attractions. If you are wondering what to see in Winton QLD get ready for a journey across time. Imagine stepping back 95 million years to a lush, forested landscape and walking amongst dinosaurs. Then in a blink of an eye you can fast forward to a time when a swagman went waltzing matilda in the rugged Queensland outback.
Australian Age of Dinosaurs Winton
The Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum is one of the most popular things to see in Winton. The museum is located 24km south of Winton on the road between Longreach to Winton.
As you approach the turn off to the Age of the Dinosaurs you will notice a dramatic change in landscape, flat terrain transforms into the tall cliffs and canyons of an ancient mesa called the “Jump Up”.
The Winton dinosaur museum takes pride and place on top of this rocky outcrop and offers spectacular views of these striking ochre rock formations and the vast plains that stretch out to the horizon.
At the entrance to the dinosaur museum you will be greeted by a ferocious looking dinosaur named Banjo, Australia’s largest known carnivorous dinosaur. You can learn more about Banjo and his buddies in the collection room.
Our first stop was the Fossil Preparation Laboratory where we learnt about the discovery, excavation and preservation of the dinosaurs. Here we were introduced to Trixie, Butch, Mick and Elliot, the first dinosaur discovered in the region.
Inside the lab we saw the technicians working on a well preserved dinosaur called Judy. This is an exciting discovery as she has remains of her last meal in her stomach, a rare find in the dinosaur world.
Next, we took a short shuttle ride out to Dinosaur Canyon to see life size dinosaur recreations in a natural outdoor setting. The area is surrounded by breathtaking scenery which makes a trip to the Winton QLD dinosaurs one of the top things to do in Winton Australia.
The Australian Age of Dinosaurs is open 7 days from April to September and from Monday to Saturday from October to March. The Museum is closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Make sure to book ahead to avoid disappointment.
Dinosaur Stampede at Lark Quarry Conservation Park
When exploring the dinosaur trail Winton, you must take the trip out to the Dinosaur Stampede at Lark Quarry Conservation Park.
Step back through the mists of time and look in wonder as over 3,300 stampeding dinosaur footprints are immortalised in stone, the only known evidence of a dinosaur stampede on the planet. The Dinosaur Stampede is located at Lark Quarry Conservation Park which is 110km south west of Winton.
The Dinosaur Stampede at Lark Quarry Conservation Park is open 7 days from April to September and from Monday to Saturday from October to March. The Museum is closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Waltzing Matilda Centre Winton
For Australians, the ballad “Waltzing Matilda” is a song that is close to our hearts. To many it is considered our “unofficial national anthem”. The song reminds us of home when we are far away and is sung with a sense of pride at important events uniting us as a nation.
Waltzing Matilda was written by the poet Banjo Paterson at Dagwood Station when he was visiting the region. Legend has it that the first public performance of Waltzing Matilda was at the North Gregory Hotel in Winton on the 6th of April 1895 and the rest as they say is history.
If you want to learn more about Waltzing Matilda Winton is the place to visit. The Waltzing Matilda Centre tells the story of how the song came to be written, the history of the region with interpretive displays and historical artefacts.
You can also visit the Qantilda Museum within the complex which includes the Chorregon Railway display, Christina Macpherson Cottage and antique vehicle shed.
The Waltzing Matilda Centre is open 7 days a week and closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
If you would like to know more about Waltzing Matilda and Banjo Paterson here is a great read by W. Benjamin Lindner.
If you are interested in Banjo Paterson’s poems here is a delightful book with illustrations by Pro Hart.
Royal Open Air Theatre & Opal Walk
The Royal Open Air Theatre was built in 1918 and is just one of a handful of remaining open air movie theatres in operation in Australia. The theatre is home to the world’s largest deck chair and features an array of movie memorabilia.
During the day you can access the Royal Open Air Theatre via The Opal Miner, a shop that sells exquisite opal jewellery. Each year the Royal Open Air Theatre hosts the annual Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival.
Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival
If you are wondering what’s on in Winton QLD, look no further than the Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival in Winton.
The town is fast becoming known as the “Hollywood of the Outback” and over the years the rugged outback landscape has been the setting for many movies made in Winton QLD. These include Nick Cave’s “Proposition” and Ivan Sen’s “Mystery Road” and “Goldstone”.
The film festival showcases a wide range of movies which can be watched while sitting under the stars. The Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival should be on everyone’s list of things to do in Winton.
Winton CBD Artworks
As you stroll down Elderslie Street you cannot help but notice the artworks that sit along the lush green manicured lawns that stretch down the street. Each artwork depicts an element of Winton’s history.
Starting at the Tattersalls Hotel you will notice a tranquil Pelican Waterhole, not only is this a lovely place to sit and relax but it reminds us that it was once Winton’s original place name.
Further down the street you will find sheep, a dinosaur footprint, the QANTAS memorial and the Waltzing Matilda Legend Stones. A fabulous walk, one that adds to the unique character to this outback town.
Reaching two metres high and seventy metres long Arno’s Wall is a concoction of concrete and rock. The wall is studded with an assortment of vintage car parts, typewriters, a stove, kitchen sink and so much more. A fun place to visit and a tribute to Arno’s quirky imagination.
Winton’s Diamantina Heritage Truck & Machinery Museum
If you love trucks make sure to visit the Diamantina Heritage Truck and Machinery Museum. Here you will find a unique collection of transport vehicles including an 1899 Pheaton, 1934 Dodge Fargo, and a selection of Mack and Chevrolet trucks.
A highlight of the museum is the powder blue MAN truck that belonged to the pioneering lady truckie Thora Daphne ‘Toots’ Holzheimer (1934-1992). Toots led a colourful life driving trucks from Cairns to Cape York and gained a reputation for being the first truck in after the wet season and the last one to leave.
**If you would like to learn more about Toots Holzheimer’s life a great read is this book by Donna Vawdrey.
The Musical Fence
You will find the musical fence in a paddock behind the Winton’s Diamantina Heritage Truck & Machinery Museum.
The Musical Fence was designed by percussionist and composer Graeme Leak and had its world premiere on the 20th of July 2003. As you walk around you will find a strange collection of musical instruments including a drum set.
To play the musical fence grab a pipe and stick and you really will be surprised by the sounds the fence makes. This is a fun activity for children and the young at heart.
Winton Historic Cemetery
Some may think that visiting a cemetery is morbid, but I believe they are full of history and tell the story of the town and its people.
For those interested in these stories the Town Cemetery has a self-guided walking tour which delves into the lives of the towns pioneering families. Just pick up a booklet at the cemetery and follow the map which is included.
Notables are Thomas and Louisa Lynett who were among the first residents to settle in the area and Willie Mar who was famous for his market garden.
Willie Mar Heritage Site
Willie Mar was from the Zhongshan province in China. He was a cook and gardener who worked on several stations between Hughenden, Richmond and Winton.
Eventually Willie Mar established a market garden in Winton and delivered his home grown vegetables around town. Today Willie Mar’s ram shackled shop is filled with outback character. Gardens which were once bursting with fresh produce are now dry and arid, it is hard to imagine how anything could grow in such a harsh climate.
As you walk around information boards tell how Willie was able to make his garden grow using clever methods including having an area to cool down the hot Artesian bore water. An inspirational man who had the gift of making the best of what he had.
The Winton Club – Birthplace of Qantas Airlines
When people think of Qantas outback history they usually think of Longreach. The Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service (Qantas) was registered as a company in Winton on the 16th of November 1920 and the first board meeting was held at the Winton Club on the 10th of February 1921.
There is a local expression that Qantas was conceived in Cloncurry, born in Winton and grew up in Longreach! Qantas truly was built with an outback pioneering spirit.
The North Gregory Hotel Winton
The North Gregory Hotel has a fascinating history that began in 1879. This is the fourth North Gregory Hotel to be built on this site and dates to 1955. The previous North Gregory Hotels had been demolished and twice destroyed by fire.
If you are looking for things to do in Winton the North Gregory Hotel is a stop that you should not miss. This historic Winton hotel is believed to have been the location of the first live performance of Waltzing Matilda and continues to have some of the best entertainment in the district. Between May and September the revolving line up of talent can have you rocking the night away or discovering the legends of Waltzing Matilda.
During our visit we relaxed in Banjo’s Beer Garden and had a laugh a minute as Gregory North intrigued us with the Mysteries of Waltzing Matilda and took us on a journey into Winton’s past with the extraordinary life story of Banjo Paterson and his poems. It was wonderful to rediscover the marvellous poetry of Banjo Paterson.
Then we rocked the night away with Vic Pascoe as he played an range of much loved international and Australian rock classics. Banjo’s Beer Garden at the North Gregory Hotel is a fantastic place to unwind under the stars after a day of sightseeing.
Dining at the North Gregory Hotel
The North Gregory Hotel has several venues for dining including the Daphne Mayo Dining Room, Musical Fence Cafe, Horseshoe Bar and Banjo’s Beer Garden.
The Musical Fence Café
Start the day with breakfast or lunch in the Musical Fence Café where you will have a choice of breakfast dishes from muesli and yoghurt, smashed avocado and poached eggs to luscious buttermilk pancakes. The poached eggs were perfectly cooked and buttermilk pancakes were a dream.
The Daphne Mayo Dining Room
The Daphne Mayo Dining Room is named after famed Australian sculptor Daphne Mayo. The North Gregory Hotel is lucky to have four special glass etched doors in the hotel, they are Daphne’s tribute to Waltzing Matilda and Qantas. Other examples of her work can be found in the Waltzing Matilda Swagman Statue on Elderslie Street.
The Daphne Mayo Dining Room is decked out in its original 1955 splendour. Here you can dine on home style favourites such as melt in your mouth lamb shanks and steaks. Just make sure to bring an appetite as the servings are large.
Banjo’s Beer Garden
Banjo’s Beer Garden does not just have fantastic entertainment it is also the place to sample the North Gregory Hotels famous woodfired pizzas.
North Gregory Hotel Accommodation Winton
Located in the heart of town, this grand old lady offers a selection of hotel rooms with private bathrooms.
The hotel has a choice of Deluxe Queen, Standard Queen and Standard Double rooms, some of which come with an extra bed. The hotel also has Standard Twin rooms.
While some of the rooms have been renovated others have a more dated décor. The beds are comfortable making for a good night sleep and many of the rooms open out onto a shared balcony. The rooms have tea & coffee making facilities, fridge and flat screen TV. Upper floors are accessible by lift.
For those travelling with a caravan the North Gregory Hotel also has campsites at the rear for Caravans and Motorhomes. We enjoyed our stay at the North Gregory Hotel and would not hesitate to return if we were visiting the region again.
Winton is a charming town filled with perfectly preserved old style shop fronts. Here are a couple worth visiting.
Corfield & Fitzmaurice Building
Corfield & Fitzmaurice is a heritage listed former general store which now houses a craft shop and small museum featuring a wool industry display, life size diorama of a dinosaur stampede and an Opalton and opal mining display. The crafts are locally made, and you can enter the museum by making a gold coin donation.
The Opal Miner
Owned by local opal miners, the Opal Miner has an stunning range of opal jewellery in its store. Here you can learn more about the boulder opal industry and opal mining. During the day it is the entrance to the Royal Open Air Theatre & Opal Walk which can be entered with a gold coin donation.
Places to eat in Winton
If you are looking for places to eat Winton will not let you down, the towns hotels have great menu’s and helpings are plentiful.
Tattersalls Hotel Winton
The Tatts Hotel Winton has a great lunchtime atmosphere and you cannot go past their Famous Steak Sandwich. Considered a “light meal” the sandwich has lashings of tender steak. A real treat when visiting Winton.
Australian Hotel Winton
If you want a quick breakfast the Australian Hotel Winton has a homemade Savoury Mince Jaffle that must be tried. The savoury mince is made from a local CWA recipe so you know it must be good.
If you are looking for accommodation Winton has a choice of accommodation styles to choose from including hotel and motels in Winton QLD. There are many to choose from but here is our favourite.
The North Gregory Hotel
Located in the perfect spot the North Gregory Hotel is walking distance to all the main attractions around town. As stated above the North Gregory Hotel is more than a hotel it is one of the most iconic hotels in Winton QLD.
Quick facts on Winton
Yes, Winton is a fascinating place and there is so much to see and do, it should be on everyone’s list of places to visit in the Queensland outback.
Some of the top things to do in Winton include the Dinosaur Stampede at Lark Quarry Conservation Park, the Waltzing Matilda Centre and the annual Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival.
Winton is best known for the Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum and the Waltzing Matilda Centre which pays tribute to Banjo Paterson’s ballad Waltzing Matilda, Australia’s unofficial national anthem.
You may also be interested in our video of our visit to the Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum.
Last Words on things to do in Winton Queensland
As I said in the beginning, we did not know a lot about Winton. During our visit we were astounded by the amount of attractions in and around the town and charmed by the friendliness and hospitality of the local people. Winton has worked its way into our hearts, and we will be visiting again in the future.
If you are visiting outback Queensland, make sure to put Winton on your places to visit. Have you been to this fascinating outback region? What was your favourite attraction?
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