Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Home of Waltzing Matilda

Middleton Hotel
Servo at Middleton Hotel - we didn't
need to buy diesel!
Middleton Hotel
As we didn’t have to take the tents down and repack the roof rack we were away from Boulia much earlier in the morning.  We would have loved an extra day in this town too, as there appeared to be a number of activities we could have done to enjoy the day.  So instead we followed the Kennedy Development Road eastward to Winton.  This is a distance of 360 kilometres and there are no towns in between.  Instead there are a couple of small run down pubs and endless flat land, no fences with Brahma cattle scattered either side of the road.  The only stop we made was for lunch which was a pull off on the side of the road as there were no rest areas nearby, and sandwiches and drinks all round.
History of Middleton Hotel
We were keen to get to Winton which is one of the small towns on Australia’s dinosaur trail.  Winton is one of the larger outback towns and attracts the traveller because of the dinosaur exhibitions and also because it is known as the home of Waltzing Matilda.  Winton is also one of the founding towns of the Australian airline, Qantas.  There is a large museum of Qantas memorabilia in nearby Longreach (180 kms northwest) but we did not divert to here.  The population of Winton was 954 in October 2012 and there is a small shopping area including a couple of grocery shops (but no actual supermarket), chemist, cafes, and three hotels. 
A camel in the distance - typical countryside
Welcome to Winton
Jake & Tim beside road train
loaded with Brahma cattle ready to travel
On arrival in Winton we were on the lookout for the camping area when we spotted the local sale yards where a road train was being loaded.  With two boys on board who live on a farm in NZ this was of particular interest so became our first stop.  When the road train pulled off fully laden one of the workers came and chatted to the boys – the Brahma cattle had overnighted in Winton after being trucked 1500 kms from west of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory.  They had just been loaded again and were heading to Roma in Queensland which is 900 kms away.  Seriously, a long way to transport cattle.

Tim getting all the info
Connor on top with Jake helping from
the ladder
We stayed in a well set up camping area adjacent to the main street – this was perfect as we could walk anywhere we wanted to go.  The camp fees were paid to the local hotel and as I booked in the guy was quick to tell me that the washing machines were free and with three boys I must need to use them!  There were about thirty sites and we were the only people tenting – the majority of the other sites were occupied by the typical grey nomad travelling Australia in their caravan.  Everyone was very friendly and soon chatting to us and the boys – most couldn’t believe that we would travel with three grandsons.  It was really warm and so nice after the cool winds we had experienced until the end of the desert.  Fortunately there were no flies so much more pleasant.  We were able to sit outside and enjoy our dinner and game.   
Outside the Waltzing Matilda
Centre in Winton
History coming alive in Winton
Once set up we decided that as it was around 3 p.m. we would visit the Waltzing Matilda Centre which was within walking distance and drive out to the dinosaur centre in the morning after we have repacked.   The Waltzing Matilda Centre incorporates an Outback Regional Gallery, Qantilda Museum, the normal café and shop plus the Waltzing Matilda exhibition.   Firstly we watched an audio visual presentation on the myth and legend behind the writing of the song which is considered the unofficial Australian anthem.  This song was one of a number of Australian ballads that we played in the car and some of the boys enjoyed singing along too.
Chocolate snack is not ideal
A quick look at the art gallery which didn’t hold much interest for the boys, and then we spent the rest of our two hour visit in the Qantilda Museum.  This collections brings together items from Winton’s history including a steam locomotive, a four wheel drive truck made for use in WW I, machinery, military display, a settlers cottage etc.  The boys enjoyed being able to climb on the various vehicles.  Before too long we had reached closing time and although we were given a pass to return the next day time did not allow for this. 
The stage in the Waltzing Matilda
Centre with the audio visual starting
A meandering walk back to the campsite before cooking dinner, showers and a game.  The road trains provided a background accompaniment as they drove the bypass or prepared to leave on the next part of their journey.  We had agreed that our visit to the dinosaur centre was an important part of our journey and we wanted to give it sufficient time so we planned an early start the next morning.  We now only had one more night before we were due in Townsville and we still had places to visit and nearly 700 kilometres to travel.

A tribute to A.B. (Banjo) Paterson, writer of Waltzing

The swag man statue

Boys and their toys

Tim the delivery boy

Connor's turn

Jake taking after Pa

They thought that Pa would like this one

The boys had to try everything
Tim looked small in this one

Old Toilets on the trains

And yes Tim had to have a turn as well

Poor old Jake just couldn't stop laughing

Old locomotive

Sowing the seeds

Great style

How about this one?

Connor really looked the part

Jake could get the front wheels turning on
this one

Rubbish Bin Cover - every bin had a
cover like this

Camels - great to see one after all our travels

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