Cape York

Top 5 Things About Queensland



We crossed the border into Queensland at the beginning of September 2014, and didn’t leave the sunshine state until June 2015.  In the ten months that we spent in Queensland, we drove through the outback, went to the northern tip of Australia, spent time in the rainforests, got jobs in Cairns, watched the sugar cane whirl by, and soaked up the sun along the sandy beaches.


Here are our favourite things about Queensland:


Prehistoric Past

Queensland’s prehistoric past includes dinosaurs, volcanoes and megafauna.  During our time in the outback, we hopped on the dinosaur trail and visited the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum in Winton.  It was absolutely fascinating to learn about the dinosaurs that used to live on Australian soil – Banjo the carnivorous theropod and Matilda the sauropod.


Australian Age of Dinosaurs


Further north in Boodjamulla National Park (Lawn Hill) are the World Heritage fossils of Riversleigh, which date back 25 million years.  We got to see even more dinosaurs at the Queensland Museum in Brisbane.  They have a regular dinosaur exhibition that includes information about the dinosaur stampede at Lark Quarry.


Lawn Hill


As we headed towards the coast, we stopped at Undara Volcanic National Park and saw the incredible lava tubes that formed nearly 200,000 years ago.  We saw more evidence of volcanic activity as we travelled east.  Mount Hypipamee Crater and the Crater Lakes on the Atherton Tablelands were all created by volcanic activity, while the Glasshouse Mountains in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland are volcanic plugs of hard rock that have been exposed as the surrounding soft rock has eroded over time.


The Tablelands




The rainforests of northern Queensland are a well known paradise, the most famous being the Daintree Rainforest, which is the oldest and largest continuous rainforest in the world.  Exploring the area is easy when you base yourself at Port Douglas, and while you’re in the area, Cape Tribulation is worth a visit.


Cape Tribulation


Not far away are the rainforests of the Atherton Tablelands.  Right in the heart of the lush forest is Kuranda, which is a beautiful little village with plenty to offer, including a range of fantastic wildlife experiences.  Paronella Park is another magical gem hidden away in the green foliage.


Paronella Park 2015-04-25 231w


To the south are the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, an amazing example of subtropical rainforest that has remained unchanged over many millennia.  Part of this world heritage area is Springbrook National Park, where the Antarctic beech trees reside and the Best of All Lookouts offer views of the valley below (but not for us).




Beaches & Coastline

Known as the sunshine state, Queensland is notorious for its beaches.  Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast is a huge beach with a big surf culture.


Gold Coast 2015-06-12 101w


Up north on the Cape, after visiting the northernmost point of Australia, we camped at Chilli Beach. The isolation of the area and the row of leaning coconut trees along the beach make it seem like you’re on a deserted island.


Cape York


Just off the coastline of Queensland is the beautiful Great Barrier Reef.  Juz had an opportunity to go out and snorkel on the reef, swim with turtles and get severely sunburnt, but if you’re not a fan of sunburn or getting wet, you can easily see the beautiful fish and corals at Reef HQ in Townsville.


Great Barrier Reef - Justine snorkling



There are heaps of opportunities to challenge yourself and your 4WD in Queensland.  Our first major obstacle was the Old Telegraph Track on the Cape.  This was so much fun and there were heaps of water crossings, dips and surprises that required keen navigational prowess.


Cape York


Fraser Island was another 4WDing favourite with plenty of sandy tracks to sink your tyres into and a whole highway of beach to cruise on, while Blackdown Tablelands gave us an unexpected opportunity to cross some rough terrain.


Fraser Coast 2015-05-13 082w


If you want to do nothing else but get loco on the tracks, head to Landcruiser Mountain Park.  This place is dedicated to challenging tracks of varying difficulty, from relatively easy to “ah fuck – I just broke my car”.  Plus, because the map they give you at reception is so shit, you’re bound to get lost and end up on a track that will push your limits.


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Freshwater Fun

Queensland isn’t all about beaches.  There are some beautiful lakes, creeks and waterfalls as well.  In the tropics, waterholes are the perfect spot to cool off and wash the film of sweat from your skin.  Josephine Falls and The Boulders are popular with locals and tourists alike, while Crystal Creek and Jarouma Falls make quite the pretty picture.


Crystal Creek 2015-04-28 009


Up in the Atherton Tablelands, the Millaa Millaa Waterfall Circuit takes you around to three waterfalls set in the rainforest, while Lake Eacham is a beautiful turquoise lake that is great for swimming and kayaking.  Another beautiful plateau is the Blackdown Tableland further south near Mackay.  There are lots of creeks surrounding the camping area but the real beauty is Guddo Gumoo, which is also known as Rainbow Waters.



Blackdown Tableland 2015-05-07 035w


In country Queensland, there are three locations that are simply sublime.  Our favourite was Lake Elphinstone, and we were very fortunate to be there on the night of a full moon.  For those who are travelling along the Savannah Way, Lawn Hill Gorge is a beautiful place to get your togs wet, and while we don’t recommend getting into the water at Cobbold Gorge (CROCS!), we do recommend a peaceful boat cruise through the gorge.


Lake Elphinstone 2015-05-05 031w


Only 7km north of the border between Queensland and New South Wales is Natural Bridge, set amongst the Gondwana Rainforest.  Natural Bridge is a product of time, as water has washed over the rock, eroding it and creating a hole.


Springbrook NP 2015-06-12 052w


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.


Winton 2014-09-08 003water


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.


Winton 2014-09-08 028water



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.



Australian Age of Dinosaurs

Prehistoric : Australian Age of Dinosaurs

Australian Age of Dinosaurs


Did you know that Australia used to be a lush forest full of dinosaurs?  We had all sorts of prehistoric creatures roaming the land, from big lumbering vegetarians to fast and ferocious predators.  The best place to learn about Australia’s dinosaur history is on the Dinosaur Trail in Queensland, and there is one particular location that will not only show you what life was like during the Australian Age of Dinosaurs, but how those dinosaurs live on today through their fossilised remains.


The Museum

The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum is located 24km southeast of Winton, on a large flat-top mesa that overlooks the surrounding landscape.  It was founded in 1999 by a local sheep and cattle farmer named David Elliot, and since then, David and his family have been recognised by the Australian Geographic Society as Australian Conservationists of the Year, and David was Queensland’s Local Hero in 2003 and a finalist in the 2010 Australian of the Year Award!


The museum’s humble beginnings as a workshop in a farm shed developed over 12 years to include the laboratory and reception centre, complete with a café and special holo-type room to store and display the fossils. It is now the most productive fossil preparation facility in the southern hemisphere and has the world’s largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils.


The museum is focused on Australia’s evolutionary history, as well as the discovery, conservation and research of Australia’s dinosaurs, all while being a major tourist attraction on Australia’s dinosaur trail.


Australian Age of Dinosaurs


The Dinosaurs

The fossils found in the area are from about 98 million years ago and most of them are sauropods – big, lumbering vegetarians.  Of the dinosaurs that have been found, there are two main characters that reveal a little about life 100 million years ago when the area was a moist forest.


Matilda was a sauropod – Diamantinasaurus Matildae to be exact – and she got stuck in the mud, literally.  Along came Banjo, a predatory Australovenator Wintonesis, who thought Matilda would be an easy meal.  Matilda fought back, Banjo fell beside her and after Matilda died of exhaustion, starvation or exposure, they were fossilised together.


Matilda was discovered first in 2005 and the Museum currently has around 30% of her skeleton.  If she were alive today, she’d be about 18m long, approximately 20 tonnes.  Banjo was discovered in 2006 and so far, about 40% of his skeleton has been found.  He is a raptor-like dinosaur about 5m long with big feet for walking on muddy terrain, strong arms with large claws and serrated teeth.  So far, he is the largest known predatory animal ever discovered in Australia.


Australian Age of Dinosaurs


Get Involved

The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum is actually a not-for-profit, volunteer driven, science and education initiative.  If you are interested in volunteering and getting involved, there are two programs on offer to the public.

  • Prep-a-Dino allows people to work in the laboratory removing rock from fossils with pneumatic scribes and air chisels.
  • Dig-A-Dino involves being on the actual dig site, helping other dinosaur enthusiasts, professionals and palaeontologists unearth fossils. The palaeontologists choose a dig site after a grazier finds some surface material (bone) and notifies them.  They go out to assess with a bit of hand digging – if what they see has potential, then they bring the excavators in.  Digs happen once a year for three weeks and you’ll need to book two years in advance to be one of the 12 or 13 volunteers they accept.


You can also become a member of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs society by subscribing to their AAOD Journal, a fantastic documentation of Australian paleontological history.  A great library addition for any keen dinosaur fanatics.


Australian Age of Dinosaurs


The Essentials

The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum is open daily from 8:30am to 5pm.  The turn off to the site is 13km SE of Winton, and another 11km along the gravel road.  There is a café onsite that has great views the surrounding area and offers snacks and refreshments.


Tours of the Laboratory and Collection Room run hourly from 9am.  The tour includes seeing their dinosaur fossil collection and animated recreations of Banjo and Matilda, as well as seeing the laboratory and meeting staff and volunteers that prepare the dinosaur bones.


For more information on prices, tour times and opening hours, or to get involved, contact the museum on 07 4657 0712, email or go to their website: