Winton is a very small outback town in Central Queensland that, despite its small size on the map these days, has a rich history. Alongside Longreach the town has a strong link with Qantas, the Australian national carrier. Despite the common association of Qantas with Longreach, the then Queensland and Northern Territory Ariel Services company was actually first headquartered in Winton.
The legendary Australian folk-song Waltzing Matilda, once National Anthem contender and now generally accepted unofficial national anthem, was written by A. B. 'Banjo' Paterson in 1895, at the nearby Dagworth sheep and cattle station, and first performed at the Gregory Hotel in town later that year. This legend inspired what has been said to be the only museum in the world dedicated to a song: the Waltzing Matilda Centre and Qantilda Museum, one of the town's key attractions. Sadly, the Waltzing Matilda Centre aspect of this museum complex was destroyed by fire in 2015.
Winton is increasingly known as a "palaeontological paradise" for the rich fossil record that lies in the earth in the surrounding area. The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, on the eastern side of town, and the Lake Quarry Dinosaur Stampede Trackways, 110 km southwest of the town, connect visitors to this rich history. The museum attracts students on practical experience and other interested volunteers to the town for extended periods to assist with the processing of finds from regular digs.
As Winton is an outback destination, the climate is particularly harsh in the summer months, with temperatures often reaching 40º C / 100º F during the day. Visitor season runs from April to October. Outside of visitor season, expect tours and experiences offerings to be reduced.
- 1 Winton Airport (WIN IATA). A flight is operated weekly from Townsville by Regional Express although this isn't a particularly cheap travel option.
Bus Queensland operates coach services to Winton from Brisbane via Charleville. The services leaves the Brisbane Transit Centre at 4pm daily, arriving at Winton at 12:45pm the following day. The return service departs at 1:25pm daily, arriving in Brisbane at 9:20am the following day.
There is a coach connection to Winton from the Spirit of the Outback train, operated by Queensland Rail, that terminates at Longreach.
Winton is approximately a 2 hour drive from Longreach on the A2 highway.
There is no public transport in Winton. A visit to the town and surrounding areas would be aided by having a car. The nearest cars are available for hire in Longreach. If a vehicle isn't an option the towns key experiences can be enjoyed via tours that operate from Longreach during visitor season.
- 1 Arno's Wall, Vindex St (in Arno's Park, behind North Gregory Hotel). A wall decorated with scrap mechanical items.
- 2 Musical Fence, off Manuka St (over the trainline - if entering Winton from the east, turn right at Manuka St where the signs tell you to turn left for the town centre). A collection of found-object percussion instruments, free for all to use.
- 3 Australian Age of Dinosaurs (east of Winton, 11km off the highway on an unsealed road up a mountain). 8:30AM-5PM. Tours showing dinosaur bones found locally, animations of the dinosaurs involved and how the bones are uncovered and preserved. $30.
- 4 Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackways, Winton-Jundah Road (65km southwest of Winton, some on unsealed roads). Dinosaur tracks. $12+.
- Bladensburg National Park (off Winton-Jundah Road, south of Winton).
- 5 Royal Theatre, Elderslie St (next to North Gregory Hotel, access through the Opal Walk). One of the few remaining open air picture theatres in Australia and includes the World's Largest Deckchair.
- 6 Qantilda Museum (Waltzing Matilda Centre), Elderslie Street, Winton. 9am - 4pm daily. A number of museum displays typical of small country museum. Includes a steam locomotive. This museum is what is left of the Waltzing Matilda Centre and Qantilda Museum after being destroyed by fire in 2015. $3.50-$10.
There are several pubs along Elderslie street, including Tattersall's, The North Gregory Hotel, and The Australian Hotel, that offer reasonable food and accommodation.
Telstra is the only mobile phone network with coverage in the town. You've got no hope if you're using Optus or Vodafone.
Long Waterhole is 2km from Winton on the Jundah Road.
The Combo Waterhole is 132km northwest of Winton off the Landsborough Highway, and is believed by some to be the setting for the story of Waltzing Matilda, or at least part of the inspiration. 'Banjo' Paterson visited the site in 1895 while staying at Dagworth Station and later wrote the words to a song that captured the spirit of Australia – ‘Waltzing Matilda’. Once part of Dagworth Station, the series of waterholes now make up the 49ha Conservation Park.
Bladensburg National Park starts 7km south of Winton. Access is via dirt roads.