Moving on from Ringers Rest saw us heading toward Innot Hot Springs as our first nights destination, with some very hot, hot springs and artesian pools. Our day included a trip to the historic village at Herberton. This place was a huge surprise. The village was amazing, rivalling Sovereign Hill, but a whole heap less commercial. The village had numerous stores and displays with an amazing array of goods from yesteryear; they also had historic vehicle displays and our favourite, the Blacksmith demonstrations. This would be the only “museum” on the whole trip that has held the kids attention for more than an hour, we were there for over 3 hours and could have spent longer. Craig did come up with the comment of the day…When walking past a bathroom in the large white house, he said “Darl, remember when we had one of those?……a bathroom!” highlighting the fact we have spent this year without our own bathroom!
After soaking our bones in the hot springs we headed for Hughenden, the start of our dinosaur adventure. Three towns make up the dinosaur loop, Hughenden, Richmond and Winton. Apparently all the stars aligned and there have been amazing fossils and prehistoric bones in this area of Australia, providing a brilliant experience for the kids and us.
In Hughenden we visited the museum displaying heaps of fossils and dinosaur bits. It also had a great explanation on the geology, which allowed the bones to be so well preserved. With the temperature in the high 30’s we also made use of the local swimming pool. The kids had a ball hanging out with the local kids.
We also had a great quirky lunch at the Prairie Pub out of town. When we arrived it didn’t look open, however the Publican arrived and open the bar. We asked about lunch and he said that he could whip up some sandwiches. Next thing we had rounds of real corned beef and chicken and tomato toasted sandwiches. Matched with a cold beer they were delicious! We even got to meet their unusual pets, a water buffalo and a deer.
A shortish drive down to Winton for the second dinosaur town. We decided to stay in the Tattersall’s Pub camping ground due to the proximity to the main street and it was cheap. Winton is also home to the Waltzing Matilda Centre dedicated to the poem/song as written by Mr. A.B. Paterson, better known as Banjo Paterson (no relation). The temperature again was pretty high so off to the local pool again to cool off.
Over the three days we spent in Winton, we went to the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, a working museum with teams of experts and volunteers working on the bones and fragments of prehistoric creatures. We met ‘Banjo’ an Australoventor wintonensis, found in the area by a local farmer (who established the complex). We walked through a fantastic outdoor display showing the different types of dinosaurs that had been found in the area. Also on the list was visiting a real dinosaur stampede, a moment in time captured in stone.
While in the Winton area we took the opportunity to drive the Diamantina Way and visit the ruins of ‘Old Cork Station’. If you are into the band Redgum or have listened to John Williamson, you would know the song ‘Diamantina Drover’. We thought we would have a look at the area it was based on.
In Richmond we visited Kronosaurus Korner, the home of one of the most complete fossil of a Kronosaurusa queenslandicus – a 10 metre marine reptile. The kids also had the chance to experience what a fossil dig is like with a pretend version, which they loved.
Our plans were to head out to Mount Isa via Julia Creek and Cloncurry. Off we went as far as Julia Creek. Unfortunetly there was some unseasonal hot weather and we struggled with the heat. Lucky for us Julia Creek had a fantastic local swimming pool with a water park. The kids (and adults) spent the whole afternoon cooling off. Needless to say were didn’t explore the town at all, so that is a great reason to go back. Another reason to head back is the luxurious artesian baths that the caravan park have set up. It was amazing with warm mineral water, big claw footed bats, views of the outback, a cold beer and chips…however, we had to share it with the kids…and there is nothing romantic about sharing a bath with a child who continued to drop chip crumbs into the water.
Given the rising temperatures and the difficulty of keeping cool in a camper at night, we made the difficult decision to head to the coast and skip Mt Isa. So we headed to Longreach via Winton. Longreach is a pretty cool place, but we were pretty tired and saddened that we had to change plans. We wandered around the Stockman’s Hall of Fame, but couldn’t do the show as it had finished for the season. The QANTAS Founders museum was good and we did the tour of the 747 400 plane (which was awesome), but I don’t think our hearts were in the museum and it ended up being just another museum that had too many words to read and not enough for the kids to do. Two days here and we were ready to leave. Look out coast here we come.