Today we head for Winton,
Winton is a town in central west
northwest of Longreach. Population is just over 1600. Winton was
originally known as Pelican Waterhole and was first settled in 1875.
Pelican Waterhole was the original settlement and was situated about
one and a half kms from Winton. It consisted mostly of a tent city with
only a few buildings. The township renamed Winton was moved, above
the flood line, to its present day location. Main industries of the area are
sheep and cattle.
Winton was given a leading role in Aussie folklore in 1895 when
while marooned by floodwaters on nearby Dagworth Station on
song "Bonnie Wood of Craigielea" played for him on the autoharp by
Christiona Macpherson, daughter of his Dagworth Station hosts.
Waltzing Matilda was first sung in public in Winton's
Winton. The first
in 1878. The hotel has been ravaged by fire three times, the last being in 1946.
For trivia buffs:-In 1942 former
North Gregory Hotel after the aircraft "The Swoose" in which he was a crew
member, force landed at Carisbrooke Station, a property 85km southwest of Winton.
Combo Waterhole is 145kms northwest of Winton off the
Peter and I took the turnoff for the Combo Waterhole and the drive is along a
old dirt track (suitable for the family car although if it had been raining a 4WD
would be more suitable as you would easily become bogged on this track).
While we were at the billabong I asked Peter to speak the words of Waltzing
Matilda as I wanted to record this on video, so this is what he started with:-
Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a Coolibah tree
And he sang as he sat and waited till his billy boiled
You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me
Waltzing Matilda, Matilda my darling
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me
And he sang as he sat and waited til his billy boiled
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me
Down came a jumbuck to drink at the billabong
It was about this verse that Peter stopped and a frown came to his forehead
and he said I can't remember the next line/s. Now Peter was, nay is a huge
Banjo Paterson fan. He has most of Banjo's written works and knows a
number of them off by heart. Not wanting to be outdone by Peter forgetting
the lines I knew there was a version of Waltzing Matilda by Slim Dusty in the
car. I persuaded Peter to put on the tape and for him to mime the song.
So here we have Peter doing a "bad" Slim Dusty impersonation and he also
started to do a jig while "singing". Suddendly we are both giggling at what is
occuring and even more so when we play back the video. I played back the
video a number of times and each time we saw and heard Peter's miming
and his little jig we broke up with laughter. Even now when watching this
we just fall about laughing.
There's not a lot to see except to "drink (pardon the pun) in the history".
Very dry country with a annual rainfall of 410mm (16 inches). We saw a lot
of kangaroos in the distance, no doubt waiting for us to leave the billabong
so they could come down for their evening drink.
..............Peter at the billabong as mentioned in Waltzing Matilda.
Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinness, two good mates who happened to be
World War I flying aces, who had fought together in
became firm friends with a mission: to fight the problem of long distances
plaguing the citizens of outback
Winton was `the official birthplace of Qantas'. The first and only meeting
of directors in the town was held on
were then moved to Longreach, which was more central to the operational
area. Qantas' first office in Longreach was destroyed by fire. A temporary
office was provided free in stock by station agent Frank Cory's plank
fronted store. Qantas later occupied the nearby
moving its headquarters to
first aircraft, an Avro 504K, registration G-AUBG, in January 1921.
It was assembled in
Yesteryear is alive and well at Winton’s Royal Theatre, an open air
theatre built in 1938 on the site of the first Royal which was constructed in
1918 when silent movies were all the rage. Every Wednesday night from
April to September, people can see a picture show that brings back all the
memories of times gone by. It’s a show full of nostalgia, starting with the
old pre-show slide advertisements and screening everything from comedy
shorts to historic Winton footage. The only other open air movie theatre is
located in Broome in
A place we didn't get to see, but is worth a mention, was Lark Quarry
which is 110km from Winton.
During the Cretaceous Period, 95 million years ago, this area was a
temperate rainforest surrounding a lake used as a waterhole for many of
the wildlife. It is believed that the Coelurosaurs and Ornithopods were at
the lake until disturbed by a large Carnosaur. The fossilised footprints
then show how the Carnosaur stalked its meal and then grabbed one
whilst the other dinosaurs began to flee in panic. It can be seen how they
fled because some footprints are embedded on previous footprints of the
Carnosaur. The three main dinosaur tracks present belong to small tracks
from the carnivorous Coelurosaurs, which were about 13 to 22 centimetres
at the hip or the size of chickens; medium sized groups of tracks from the
herbivorous Ornithopods, which were between 12 to 70 centimetres at the
hip or the size of emus; and the large track of one flesh eating Carnosaur,
its footprint was nearly 60cm long and would have been 2.6 metres at the hip.
This is also the world's only recorded evidence of a Dinosaur Stampede.
Approximately 3300 fossilized dinosaur tracks can be viewed. The largest
dinosaur skeleton found in
"Elliot", was discovered on a property outside Winton in 1999.
From Winton we travelled up the
daughter was living.
Miles discovered a rich seam of silver-lead on the western edge of the
Cloncurry field. Copper and zinc are also mined. John Miles pegged out two
leases and within a short time several hundred leases were filled. Within
12 months, in 1924, Mount Isa Mines (MIM) took over operation and thus
began the growth of one of world's most successful mining towns.
Mount Isa Mines Ltd is one of the most highly mechanised and cost efficient
mines in the world. It's the world's biggest single producer of silver and lead
and is amongst the world's top ten for copper and zinc. It is also one of the
few areas in the world where the four minerals are found in close proximity.
35 000 tonnes of ore. The underground workings extend approximately
4.5 km in length and 1.3 km in width. The population is just over 22,000.
The mine is the most significant landmark in the area, with the stack from
the lead smelter (built 1978), standing 270 m tall, and is visible from all parts
of the town. The stacks are the first thing you can see, long before you can see
any part of the town as you drive into The Isa (as it is commonly known).
We stayed two days in Mt Isa while I visited my daughter. On one of the
days we drove out to
situated about 12km from the town. Here Mt Isa receives its drinking
water and the lake is a popular area for watersports and fishing.
The lake is regularly stocked with barramundi and sooty grunter (so
named because of the grunting sound they make) fingerlings.
and each August the population doubles as spectators and contestants
In Part 3 we head west into the