Into dinosaur country

We’re amazed by the richer country that we pass through, with healthy looking cattle and sheep – they are apparently very proud of their ‘droughtmaster’ cattle, as we approach Winton. Here’s another town where we see everywhere the unflappable (pardon the pun) brolgas making their stately way through the streets.

Tattersall’s Hotel seems to be the centre of town, so we camp beside it.

We’re in search of dinosaurs though and it seems the best way to do it is in a three-hour in-depth tour. Going out to dinner, it’s okay to leave Charlie in the van and he settles down quite happily. But this is a daytime experience and it’s too long and definitely too hot. So for the first time on our travels we find a marvellous babysitter. She lives in a run-down house with her own pack of dogs and Charlie is immediately happy, sits on her foot nonchalantly as we wave good-bye.

The north west of Queensland, where dinosaur bones have been found is flat, dry, kept alive by Artesian waters. But it wasn’t always so – when the dinosaurs lived in this part of Australia, it was lush and green, covered in swamps and beaches, at about the latitude of Melbourne and joined to Antarctica. It, in fact, looked more like this:

To find the home of dinosaurs, we travel to Jump-Up country, great mesas left high and dry by the receding plains now far below them. The terrain is magic.

Nancy, on the terrace, waiting for the tour – you can see how high ‘Jump-up’ country is

Left-over palm trees from a previous era – our cameras never stopped clicking…

Below is a reproduction of a great stampede, where ‘Banjo’, recreated here and one of the most complete dinosaurs ever found, chased a host of other, smaller animals and left their footprints behind – which is all there is to show of this great stampede. (I’m paraphrasing)

We had the great good fortune, then, to watch qualified volunteers painstakingly carve away the stone to find the dinosaur bones underneath

… and this is ‘Banjo’, pictured above and, as I said, the most complete skeleton ever found in this area:

Winton is also the ‘home’ of Waltzing Matilda, and a magnificent museum in the middle of town pays tribute to that:

Next is Hughenden, then we start climbing the Great Dividing Range from the western side, heading for the Atherton Tableland…

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