Winton 2014-09-07 004water

Town Profile : Winton

Winton 2014-09-07 003water

 

We were in Winton for Juz’s birthday, and while we were a long way from home, and from anywhere for that matter, we tried to make the most of our time in the Dinosaur Capital of Australia.

 

Located on the Matilda Highway, Winton is about 470km east of Mount Isa or 1500km west of Brisbane.  It used to be known as Pelican Waterhole, based on the original settlement about 1km west of town on the Western River.  Unfortunately, a flood in 1876 caused the settlement to be shifted to where Winton is now.

 

The night before Juz’s birthday, we rolled into town and had a quick drink at the Tattersalls Hotel, which had a good vibe, friendly bar wenches and great prices.  We stayed at Long Waterhole, a free camping spot about 4km out of town and with minimal mozzies.  In the morning, we had a coffee at the Musical Fence Café next to the North Gregory Hotel and took advantage of their free Wi-Fi and decent coffee before heading off to visit the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum.

 

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Lunch was at Tattersalls Hotel, then we checked out the Musical Fence and Arno’s Wall, a massive wall that took 15 years to build, and is made of all sorts of scrap like motorbikes, car parts, sinks and rims.  Juz spent some time in the library while Dave replaced the shocker rubbers, and then we hit up Hollow Log Park to use their free (cold) showers.  Before leaving town, we filled up at the petrol station ($1.63 for diesel) and made our way towards Cloncurry.

 

That night, we slept at a rest area on the way to Cloncurry and met a great artist named Dennis Samphier.  He is new to solo travelling and loves meeting people, so he came over for a chat.  Over a couple of drinks, he found out it was Juz’s birthday.  He immediately ducked back over to his caravan and came back with a little prezzie for her.

 

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Winton might seem like a sleepy little town in the middle of the Queensland outback but it is significant for a number of reasons:

 

The Dinosaur Trail

Winton is part of a triangle of towns along the Dinosaur Trail.  The first official dinosaur discovery was in 1962, when a footprint uncovered an ancient stampede at Lark Quarry.  More than 95 million years old, the soil has fossilised around 3,300 footprints that are protected by a massive building. The footprints are only viewable via guided tours, which run daily at 10am, 12pm and 2pm.

 

A few decades later in 1999, some bones were found on a property just outside Winton, which lead to the beginnings of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum. This new and innovative museum is the most productive fossil preparation facility in the southern hemisphere and holds the world’s largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils.  Lucky for us, they also offer tours that run hourly from 9am.

 

Australian Age of Dinosaurs

 

The other two towns within the Dinosaur Trail are Richmond and Hughenden.

 

Waltzing Matilda

Banjo Patterson was visiting the Winton area in 1895 when he was inspired to write the lyrics of Waltzing Matilda, to accompany a tune written by his mate’s sister, Christine Macpherson. That same year, the first public performance of Waltzing Matilda was played at the North Gregory Hotel.

 

Winton 2014-09-07 004water

 

There are plenty of ‘Banjo’ related activities on offer in and around Winton. There is a statue of Banjo Patterson outside the Waltzing Matilda Centre, which offers self-guided tours that follow the story of Waltzing Matilda.  You can have a meal at the North Gregory Hotel or go and see the Musical Fence just outside of town, which gives you the chance to play Waltzing Matilda on the wire fence – how Aussie is that!

 

About 132km towards Cloncurry is the Combo Waterhole, the place where the jolly swagman is said to have jumped into the billabong.  This is worth checking out if you’re passing through.

 

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Qantas

Australia’s airline, the Queensland and Northern Territory Arial Service (QANTAS), originated in Winton.  It was registered as a company in November 1920 and there is a memorial in town to commemorate it.

 

 

Thursday Night BBQ - Bungled

Party In Port Douglas : Dave & Juz’s Birthday

If we had left Darwin in mid-August with the Troopy, we were expecting to be in Port Douglas in time for our birthdays.  However, we decided to stick around in Darwin and experience the Wet Season, so we flew over to Queensland for a week-long getaway in with family and friends.

 

Day 1 : Wednesday

We woke up at 4:30am to be picked up by a cab at 5am.  Our flight at 6:20am got us to Cairns at 9:30am.  We caught a cab into the city for some coffee before realising that we had 4 hours to waste… so we decide to have a pub crawl.

 

 

Dave’s folks arrived in Cairns at about 3pm, picked us up outside The Union Jack and we headed for Port Douglas.  They dropped us off at our accommodation, where we freshened up and got ready to meet our mates who had arrived a few days earlier.

 

Everyone was at the Rattle and Hum – we drank a little more to prevent a hangover from the pub crawl, had some dinner and caught up with some general chit chat.  Juz was exhausted and went home to sleep while Dave stayed out until midnight (lest he turn into a pumpkin).

 

The CAKE that Dave's mum made - AMAZING!

 

Day 2 : Thursday

We got up nice and early and joined the family group to head to Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Forest.

 

LOOK OUT!!  The Daintree

 

Cape Tribulation was gorgeous.  We had a nice walk on the beach, saw some mangroves and stingrays before having lunch at Mason’s Café and explore the water hole nearby.  We stopped at the Daintree Ice Creamery on the way back and tried some tropical flavours like yellow sapote, wattleseed and coconut.

 

 

We got back in the late afternoon, rested our weary legs before preparing for the evening celebrations.  Everyone met at Anzac Park with BYO booze and meat and we had a feast and cut the amazing cake that Dave’s mum made before the real shenanigans started – climbing things was the theme of the evening.  After making a 10-person human pyramid, the boys climbed the picnic shelter, and the playground, and the playground shade cloth to check out the full moon over the water.

 

 

Once we were done with the park, we packed up and headed to the Iron Bar for some more drinks and dancing.  This is when things start getting a bit blurry.  Dave and I left with Cyn, Matty and Chris and we went back to their hotel.  We did some skinny dipping in the pool, Juz scrapped her hip on the bottom of the pool and Dave ripped his nipple open trying to pole dance on a flag pole.

 

Rip Nip!

 

The night manager told us to scram so we fled and headed home, but not before Matty poured Dave a full glass of Chivas Regal.  It goes without saying that Dave doesn’t remember much from that point on.

 

Thursday Night BBQ

 

Day 3 : Friday

A tough morning – but no rest for the wicked.

 

We peeled Chris off our motel couch, got cleaned up, checked out of our studio room and went to Mossman Gorge with Chris and Dave’s folks and new arrivals, Kieran and Maria. Stupidly, we didn’t bring our swimmers so we couldn’t refresh ourselves in the cool waters, but there was a lovely 2km track through the forest to enjoy.

 

 

Once again, we had to pretty ourselves up for the evening, but instead of doing it at our hostel, we cleaned up in comfort and Dave’s parental unit.  It was probably for the best because Dave’s ripped nipple needed some serious attention and Juz was too squirmish to finish the job so Dave’s mum stepped in.  Once we were all bandaged up and smelling sweet, we headed to On The Inlet – the location for Juz’s special 30th birthday dinner.

 

Everyone was there – we took up two tables and were taken care of by an awesome waiter who had a great sense of humour and perfectly pronounced Gewurztraminer (and made us look silly).  Dave ordered the whole baby barramundi while Juz and Cyn shared a bunch of entrees.  Everyone’s meals were incredible and the drinks kept on coming, but because Juz had burnt herself out the night before, it was an early night for her and Dave, but some of the others partied on until the wee hours.

 

Watching the footy at On The Inlet

 

Day 4 : Saturday

Attempted recovery – we woke up just in time to meet Jess and Trav at Mocka’s Pies for breakfast before a total faff day wandering around town and sunbaking on the beach.  When we got back to the parental unit, Dave took the plunge and shaved some of his beard off, leaving a long purple goatee.

 

 

We went downstairs to the Rattle and Hum for happy hour drinks while we watched the Sydney– Fremantle game before heading down the street for a delicious Thai dinner.  The plan after that was to go to the Full Moon Party at the marina but it was full of teenagers dancing to terribly mixed music so we spent the rest of the evening on the beach.  Juz bowed out at midnight while Dave partied on with Glenn.

 

 

When Dave and Glenn got back to the hostel at some ungodly hour, there were some people sitting on chairs in a line on the side of the road.  They assumed that some sort of show was about to start, so they pulled up a couple of chairs.  It turned out there wasn’t a show, but they met a cool Italian backpacker, caught (and released) a bird and found a bunch of glow sticks before eventually crawling into bed somewhere around 5am.

 

Day 5 : Sunday

It was Parksy’s last day in Port Douglas and Juz woke up just in time to meet up with him at Mocka’s for a final breakfast pie.  When she got back to the hostel, Dave was still in a coma on his bunk, but she had to rouse him so that we could get cleaned up at the parental unit before heading to Cyn and Matty’s exotic accommodation, the Sea Temple.

 

 

We spent the afternoon sitting by the pool and drinking cocktails before the girls dolled themselves up for dinner at a secret location.  We were picked up by a shuttle bus and taken into the forest for the most magical experience in Port Douglas – Flames of the Forest.

 

Our dinner was perfect – romantic live music sung by a girl surrounded by guitars and ukuleles, dream-like lighting, candles, red velvet and knives and forks that were lined up for miles.  Each course that came out was a taste sensation, and the wine was free-flowing.   After a quick dance at the end of the night, we were shuttled back to town and passed out when our heads hit the pillow.

 

 

Day 6 : Monday

Breakfast with Juz’s mum before another day of faffing.  Drinks at the Rattle and Hum started after Cyn, Matty, Glenn, Liz and Chris left for Cairns at around 4pm before whoever was left headed over to the packed-out Tin Shed for a pub style meal.

 

 

Day 7 : Tuesday

Our last day in Port Douglas.  We checked out of the hostel and walked down to Origin Espresso for the best coffee in town before cleaning ourselves up at Juz’s parental unit.  We packed the car up and headed to Cairns for a pho lunch with Kieran and Maria.

 

We checked into our motel room and waved goodbye to Juz’s mum, Kieran and Maria before stripping down to our underpants and watching TV all night long.

 

 

Day 8 : Wednesday

We woke up relatively early to have breakfast at Paleo Café before catching the shuttle bus to the airport and coming home to Darwin for some well-deserved rest!

 

 

We want to extend a massive thank you to our friends and family who were able to get to Port Douglas for the festivities.  We had a fantastic time seeing the sights and catching up with you all.  Where should we have our birthday party next year….?

 

 

Sauna Time

Juz’s 30th Birthday

Hey everyone – Juz here.
I had an amazing 30th birthday.  We threw a debaucherous Friday night party fueled by wine, BBQ and giggles in the pool.

 

 

After Saturday in recovery, I woke up on Sunday morning next to Dave and a phone full of notifications and texts from friends and family.  We spent the morning tidying up the house and doing washing before heading to the markets for coffee and some breakfast pho (breakpho).  On the way home, Dave surprised me with a stop at a Greek bakery called Sweet Tooth and we indulged in a Baileys Ball and kataifi – YUM!

 

 

When we got home, we had some sauna time before getting into the pool and cracking open a gift bottle of Passion Pop.  After an hour or so of lazing about the house, we went to the Beachfront Hotel for drinks with mates and then Dave whisked me away to my secret dinner.

 

 

The destination was in Cullen Bay and we dawdled up and down Marina Boulevard and along the beachfront until it was time for the reservation.  He led me down an alleyway that opened to the marina before revealing that we were to dine at Yots Greek Taverna!

 

It was all very special.  We had a table right next to the water and watched the buildings turn gold in the sunset.  The atmosphere was soaked with romance, the music was Greek folk and there was a moment there where I thought I was in Santorini.

 

Yots Greek Taverna

 

I got a glass of Pinot Noir while Dave ordered a Mythos and it wasn’t long before we were ready to order.  Dave chose the Greco Barramundi while I went with the Moussaka and we got a saganaki to share.

 

The saganaki came out first, still sizzling on the plate.  There was a spoonful of chickpeas in a tomato sauce, which initially seemed odd but paired with the salty cheese perfectly.  The saganaki itself was perfection – full of flavour, crusty on the outside and soft on the inside – but seriously, even bad saganaki is good.  A wedge of lemon did come with the dish but it was no match for the cheese.

 

Dave’s Greco Barramundi fillet was tender and soft without any off-putting fishiness.  It was topped with a creamy caper sauce that was mild yet slightly tangy and served with a side of zingy lemon potatoes and wilted spinach.

 

My Moussaka was a hit – spiced mince under a layer of luscious béchamel and crusty cheese, served in a terracotta dish.  Pure comfort, and the nutmeg in the cheese sauce was just brilliant.

 

 

The table service we received for the night is also worth mentioning.  We were impressed by their impeccable timing in reading out the specials, offering us drinks, bringing our meals out and clearing the table.  They were attentive, professional and polite, without interrupting us once!

 
YOTS Greek Taverna on Urbanspoon
 

On the way home, we stopped at the supermarket for some peanut butter chocolate ripple ice cream and ate it out of the container while we watched a few episodes of United States of Tara.

 

ICE CREAM!

 

Thank you Dave for a choc-a-block super fun day and a wonderful, romantic evening – love you lots!  I hope that on the 19th, your birthday will be just as good while we’re partying in Port Douglas with our family and friends.

 

oxoxoxo

 

P.S. thank you to everyone who sent their birthday wishes – you guys are awesome =D