Trip Start May 08, 2008
Trip End Jan 31, 2012

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Matilda Caravan Park

Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Monday, July 13, 2009

WINTON - July 13th - 15th, 2009

Winton is about 180 kms further north from Longreach, or as the locals say "just up the road"!

We have realised that distances out here mean very little to the locals and travellers alike. Of course, the topic of conversation is always "Where ya been"?, Where ya Goin' Next"? Generally we only travel 250 to 300 kms per day, and after speaking to most other caravaners, we really feel like we are just out for a Sunday drive!!

We met a grandma and her grand-daughter Choe along the road yesterday, a morning tea stop. She had travelled about 9,000klms during the school holidays with her grand-daughter!! They were having a ball and Chloe could remember so much of it, but her favourite place was the Devil's Marbles. What an experience for a 7 year old.

Anyway back to us meanderers.

Winton is just a very small town, but has a museum totally devoted to our national song "Waltzing Matilda". The legend of Waltzing Matilda began when A.B. "Banjo" Paterson penned the ballad at nearby Dagworth Station in 1895, and it is believed the first public performance of the song occurred at the North Gregory Hotel in Winton.

The museum is excellent and really stirs emotions and patriotism in all Aussies, especially when recalling the momentous occasions when this song has been sung.

What Does Waltzing Matilda Mean?

The phrase Waltzing Matilda is believed to have originated with German immigrants who settled in Australia.

"Waltzing" is derived from the German term of "auf der waltz" which meant to travel while learning a trade. Young apprentices in those days travelled the country working under a master craftsman, earning their living as they went, sleeping where they could.

"Matilda" has Teutonic origins and means Mighty Battle Maiden. It is believed to have been given to female camp followers who accompanied soldiers during the Thirty Years' War in Europe. This came to mean "to be kept warm at night" and later to mean the army great coats or blankets that soldiers wrapped themselves with. These were rolled into a swag and tossed over their shoulders while marching.
So the phrase Waltzing Matilda came to mean: "to travel from place to place in search of work with all one's belongings on one's back wrapped in a blanket or cloth".

This is what Swagmen did in outback Australia.

Winton was also the birthplace of QANTAS as the first board meeting was held here in 1921.

Winton is also very famous for dinosaurs!! It has the world's only record of a dinosaur stampede, (which occurred about 98 million years ago) located just 110km, or "just down the road", from Winton. A building has been erected over the site of the dinosaur tracks to preserve them.

There is also a dinosaur fossil preparation facility about 20km out of town and we did a very interesting tour out to this facility. It is located on a "jump-up" or type of volcanic eruption and is a work in progress. They have plans to build a museum on this site also.

However, the amount of dinosaur bones that have been located in this local area is just amazing, and we were fortunate enough to view the area in which they were found, and how the palientologists go about removing them from the ground, preparing them in plaster casts for transportation to the facility, how everything is documented and then how they go about the time consuming process of getting the actual bones from the rock surrounding them.

Apparently the bones were initially found by a farmer who just happened to notice them on his property. The area is mostly made up of black soil which is about 2 metres deep, it cracks during the wet; moisture allows the bones to be pushed up through the layer of black soil, and sometimes just sit on the top of the soil.

This farmer by the name of Dave Elliott, has changed the way palientologist now dig in this area. Not with any dentists drills; first they tried shovels and crowbars, and then he went off and got his bobcat. Apparently the scientists were having a fit and thought he would destroy any more bones that were located there, but lo and behild he was right - they were laying below the 2 metres of black soil and were totally undamaged by the use of such force!! They are now re-writing the handbook in this area as to how to dig for bones!!

They must have amazing patience. They have at least 100 bones yet to be taken out of their plaster casts and treated and it can just take months and months to achieve the slightest progress. They had to stop collecting bones until they have worked on all the ones they already have in the facility, as they are running out of room. Anyone from the local community can go out and help at any time,and there are heaps of people volunteering their time. Dave Elliott has almost forgotten that he has a property and his 21 year old son has to do most of the work as dad has got so involved in the dinosaur business! Pity he didn't find oil or gold or something!

Also of interest in this little town is Arno's Wall. What a character Arno must have been. He has everything cemented into this wall except his wife I think!

There are typewriters, mixmasters, old fuel stoves, motor bikes, a cement mixer, and oh the proverbial kitchen sink........and on and on I could go. The wall must be at least 10 meters long. One way to get rid of your junk I suppose.

There is also a musical fence with musical instruments made out of junk, and it is a great community space.

A small town but a really interesting and historic town, with a great feel to it and lots and lots to see and do.

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