Saturday 24 May 2014

Alice Springs to Gold Coast. Part 2.


Winton is one of those cute little country towns where everything is just great! It is located 177Km NW of Longreach. First thing was we needed to fuel up since we hadn't since Mt Isa. At the BP they had FREE showers! When you have free camped for 3 nights in a row using baby wipes to 'wash' a free shower is really appreciated, so already we had a good feeling about the town.

We came here specifically to see the dinosaur stuff, but Winton has much more to offer. For starters Winton has dinosaur feet along the main street which are the garbage bins, and it is also home to the world's largest deck chair, however since being built, the material is now ripped. 

While waiting for the information centre to open we wandered about the town and found “Arno's Wall”. Arno was a hoarder. He would go to the local tip on a regular basis and take home random stuff. He had a plan for his stuff though, and that plan was to build a wall that went around his property. Parts of the house were built from this wall of stuff too. There were many unique and interesting features of the wall including toilets, motorbikes, sewing machines, TVs, many wheel hubs, and car parts. 

Once at the information centre the lady told us about a Winton pass, that allowed us to visit 5 things around Winton so we said why not. The pass allowed us to learn the history and interpretations of the Waltzing Matilda Song, old machinery, sheep stations, opal mining, and the beginnings of QANTAS by visiting Waltzing Matilda Centre, the Qantilda Pioneer Place Museum, and some more smaller things around town. All very interesting stuff. 

Lark Quarry Dinosaur Stampede:

In the afternoon we travelled 110Km west to get to the Lark Quarry with the only dinosaur stampede that has been preserved in mud. Parts of the Jurassic Park movies were based on these footprints. The guide told us that the big dinosaur was going for some water then noticed the little dinosaurs which made them run in all kinds of directions. The reason the footprints got preserved this way is because the next day or so, the waterhole slowly filled with water. The reason it was slow, is that if it was fast the prints would have been washed away.

On the way back to Winton we saw a family of Emus running along side a fence. 
Two adults, and two younger ones. Quite funny to watch them run along the fence. I'd never seen a family before so it was very special. Once back in Winton we saw that Australian Hotel had $15 T-bone steak and chips for dinner on Thursdays! Yes please!

Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum:

We definitely saved the best of Winton (for us) until last. 

The following day we went to the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum.

To get there you start heading East along the Landsborough Highway about 20 minutes, then turn off the highway following the signs.

Normally with dinosaur exhibitions what you see is not the bones, but model casts of the bones. When dinosaurs are found it is average that it will only be 20 percent complete.

To show the skeleton, bones that are found of the same dinosaur multiple times are combined to make a whole skeleton.

The Australian Age of Dinosaurs are finding new breeds of dinosaurs that have never been seen anywhere on Earth.
Similar dinosaurs related to the new findings have been discovered elsewhere. With what they know of the relatives, the scientists can make educated guesses to figure out the missing parts of the dinosaurs they dig up.
What is interesting is they show the actual bones they have found (not casts) in a temperate controlled room like a vault with very thick insulation around the entire room, which stays at 23 degrees Celcius.
There are two main dinosaurs on display named Banjo (Australovenator wintonensis) and Matilda (Diamantinasaurus matildae).
They are able to use computer technologies to piece together what the rest of the dinosaur looks like, and how it moves.
Next to the bones found of Banjo is a wire frame with the casts of the bones they have found of him.

Next you go up to where the interesting things happen. 
How they get the dinosaurs out of the ground.
Eventually the bones break loose from the level of rock they are in and become part of the top soil cycle where they get pushed to the surface.
When this happens it reveals the next dig spot.
They only do digs once a year, because every dig produces between 3-5 years of work. 
There is about 30 years of work in their science lab at the moment.
To remove the bones they dig down to them, dig around them on one side, cover it in foil, newspaper, then plaster, wait overnight for the plaster to dry, then repeat the process on the other side.
They can spend over a year working on uncovering the one cast with small chisel jack-hammer style tools.
A fiddly and time consuming job run by volunteers after being trained up and you can either be apart of the dig, help with the fiddly cleaning, or both.

Q.A.N.T.A.S Founders Outback Museum.

It was a little hard to take in the incredible amount of information that was here at the museum in Longreach. We did however enjoy exploring and climbing aboard the old planes.

I found the information that was at Winton in the Qantilda Pioneer Place Museum a bit more interesting, summarised, and we even found a list of old flying rules named: Regulations for Operation of Aircraft.
Some included: Don't take the machine into the air unless you are satisfied it will fly.
Pilots should carry hankies in a handy position to wipe of goggles.
Do not trust altitude instruments.
If an emergency occurs while flying, land as soon as posible.

Rest of the Journey:

That night we went through a town called Barcaldine.

There was a fascinating old tree referred to as the Tree of Knowledge as it was a very old tree and had stood witness to many rallies between the unions and the shearers. 
In 2006 the tree fell.
A memoriam is now in its place to remember the battles the tree witnessed, the secrets it held, and the towns history.
We also stopped in Charleville for a night to visit the Cosmos Centre. It was awesome getting to see the rings on Saturn through a Telescope.
We reached the Gold Coast on Sunday night so our estimation of 5-10 days to get across was accurate of 7 days and I did not miss city driving one little bit.
Give me the open road any day!
Happy travels

 - Jeni

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