Monday, March 26, 2007

Brisbane to Perth with Holtie Part 2

Today we head for Winton, Mount Isa and places west.

Winton is a town in central west Queensland and is 177 kilometres
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
A.B. (Banjo)
Paterson wrote Australia's national song, Waltzing Matilda
while marooned by floodwaters on nearby Dagworth Station on
April 6, 1895.
Paterson wrote the timeless ballad to a traditional Scottish marching
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
North Gregory Hotel.

.....................A.B. (Banjo) Paterson

The North Gregory Hotel has played a colourful part in the history of
Winton. The first
North Gregory Hotel was built by Corfield & Fitzmaurice
in 1878. The hotel has been ravaged by fire three times, the last being in 1946.

For trivia buffs:-In 1942 former US President Johnson (LBJ) relaxed at the
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 Landsborough
, and is believed, by some, to be the setting for the story of Waltzing Matilda.

.................One of the billabongs at Combo Waterhole.

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
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.

On August 18, 1919, Fergus McMaster's car broke down near Cloncurry in
Western Queensland. He was helped out of his troubles by two passers-by,
Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinness, two good mates who happened to be
World War I flying aces, who had fought together in
Palestine. The three
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
10 February 1921. Qantas operations
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
Graziers Building until
moving its headquarters to
Brisbane in 1929. Qantas took delivery of its
first aircraft, an Avro 504K, registration G-AUBG, in January 1921.
It was assembled in
Sydney by the Australian Aircraft and Engineering Co

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
Western Australia, and we were also going to Broome.

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
Australia, a 20-30 tonne, Sauropod nicknamed
"Elliot", was discovered on a property outside Winton in 1999.

From Winton we travelled up the Matilda Highway to Mt.Isa, where my
daughter was living.
Mt. Isa was established after 1923 when John Campbell
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.
Australia's largest underground mine, it has a daily output of around
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).

..................Sunset overlooking the stacks of Mt. Isa Mines.

We stayed two days in Mt Isa while I visited my daughter. On one of the
days we drove out to
Lake Moondarra, which is a artificial lake and is
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.

.........Olivia and Wazza at Lake Moondarra.

Mt. Isa is also home to the largest rodeo in the Southern Hemisphere,
and each August the population doubles as spectators and contestants
Australia and all over the world come to compete for the No. 1 trophy.

In Part 3 we head west into the
Northern Territory and travel across
Buchanan Highway to Tennant Creek.


Peter said...

You have a couple of references to Banyo Paterson instead of Banjo Wazza, but otherwise it all sounds about right specially me forgetting the words to Waltzing Matilda... never thought that would happen.

wazza said...

Oops, thanks Peter...see I said he was a huge fan of Banjo Paterson...
spelling now fixed. Wazza

Raggedy said...

Thank you for sharing your trip with us. It is wonderful to see the pictures and hear about the places you have been. I can picture Peter jigging...
The history you included in the story is wonderful.
Have a wonderful day!
(=':'=) hugs
(")_ (")Š from
the Cool Raggedy one

Jim said...

Thanks, Warren, for the ride-along. I will be ready for the next part. It all is so interesting.
Were you ever a little fearful of highwaymen when things got desolated?
I need to watch the videos, I've been sooooo busy the last few weeks.

Lee said...

Great post, Wazza...I love it. It sounds like you both had a wonderful trip. I'm looking forward to reading about the rest of it. :)

Merle said...

Hi Warren ~~ Another great episode on your and Peter's travels. All very
interesting and informative.
The Isa sounds as though it has many treasures underground, but does Olivia prefer Carns to living n Isa?
You have a lovely daughter. BYW I liked hat quizz you sent and I got less than you did. Tricky questions.
Take care, my friend,Regards, Merle.

Margaret said...

Hi Warren that Video has been kept a pretty good secret, I am sure it would be very funny. There is speculation or Myth, that Banjo was enamoured with a property owners wife in Winton area. Have you heard that one? Perhaps that was who he wrote "As long as Your Eyes are Blue" for.I got a couple more than you on the Quiz. Did nean to send it back but have not been up to the mark this week.
Cheers Margaret