We hadn’t heard much about Winton before we headed to Outback Queensland, but once we were there it absolutely blew our minds. This little town is bursting with so much history, character and unbelievable landscapes, there was really so much more to see and experience than we expected.
From a history of dinosaurs, to some of the worlds most beautiful opal fields, and landscapes that will absolutely make your jaw drop, Winton absolutely needs to be on your bucket list for your next adventure to the Queensland outback. To help you plan your visit, here are some of the best things to do in Winton that you’re not going to want to miss.
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Explore the Rangelands
To see the most epic landscapes Winton has to offer, book yourself onto the Rangelands Rifts and Sunset Tour with Vicki from Red Dirt Tours. The tour takes you about 15 minutes away to a private property, where erosion has created an incredibly unique landscape.
It’s absolutely crazy that you can jump through a small crack in the earth and end up wandering through these crazy huge rift formations, unlike anything we have come across on our travels so far. The tour then takes you to the perfect sunset spot, where you watch the sun slowly drop below the horizon, as the outback glows around you.
The tour goes for about 3 hours in the evening, from around 4pm – depending on the sunset time throughout the year. Tickets cost $65 for adults, with discounts for kids and seniors.
Visit the Australian Age of Dinosaurs
Did you know the outback Queensland was once home to some of Australia’s biggest dinosaurs?! In fact, many many dinosaur fossils and skeletons have been found in the farms surrounding Winton. Because of the black soil in the area, fossils are often found well preserved and close to the top of the earth.
Australian Age of Dinosaurs is home to the largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils in the country, and the world. It has three different sections to explore:
- The Fossil Preparation Laboratory – where you can see volunteers working to recover actual fossils that have been found around Winton
- The Collection Room – where you can see some of the skeletons and most intact bones that they have unearthed so far
- Dinosaur Canyon – a walk through the outback overlooking the canyon, where you can check out some amazing bronze statues of the species that have been found in the region
All three parts of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs are part of a tour which runs for three hours. Tours depart at 8am, 9am, 10am and 2pm and can often be booked out, especially in the winter months, so make sure you book your tickets in advance.
Extend your trip with a visit to Lark Quarry
If you have a little more time, take a trip out to Lark Quarry, which is about 110 kilometres south-west of Winton. As well as being a beautiful place to visit, it’s also home to the other dinosaur landmark in the area, the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument.
The stampede monument was formed 95 million years ago, and is the only known place in the world where a dinosaur stampede with more than 3,300 tracks are immortalised in stone. There are some insane footprints here, it’s amazing to think about how long these prints have survived in the earth!
There is a display in the gallery at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs where they will give you a little bit of commentary about what they think might have happened in the stampede, as you can see in the image above.
Grab a meal in the main street
The main street of Winton is just so cute, with historical buildings and strings of fairy lights lining the streets. All the pubs we ate at in Winton offered a big menu with really delicious food. In fact we had a caravan full of food that we had to freeze because we were loving the Winton pubs so much.
Our favourites were the North Gregory Hotel where you should grab a table in the beer garden out the back, and the Tattersalls Hotel where we couldn’t recommend the steak more highly.
Try and find a boulder opal in Opalton
About an hour and 10 minutes out of Winton is the tiny opal mining town of Opalton. You might have seen it before on the Discovery Channel show Opal Hunters, where some of the characters from the mines out here spend their day searching for the beautiful and illusive boulder opals.
You’re able to try your luck fossicking for an opal out here, just make sure you’re not too close to anyone’s claim or any of the huge mines that are out here. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the area, check out the Opalton Bush Camp that has been built by some of the local miners. They’ve created a great camp, with toilets and showers, a camp kitchen and even wifi for just a $2 donation.
If you’re not keen on searching for your own opals you can check out some of the opal shops in Winton between March and November to check out some of their best pieces. They also have an annual opal festival in July each year to meet some of miners, buy some rough and cut opals and see some of the prettiest stones the outback has to offer.
Take a drive out to Bladensburg National Park
Just out of Winton you can find Bladensburg National Park which is another great spot for some of the outback’s most insane landscapes. Head straight to Scrammy Gorge, a huge crater in the ground that comes out of nowhere, and looks like it could definitely crumble beneath you if you get too close to the edge.
There are more amazing views around Bladensburg National Park, as well as a camping ground alongside Surprise Creek if you want to stay the night. Take a drive in the golden hour before the sunset to see heaps of kangaroos coming to life as the sun goes down.
Visit the Waltzing Matilda Centre
On the main street of Winton is the Waltzing Matilda Centre, which is an information centre, museum and gallery all rolled into one. There is a large musical display here to the iconic Australian song Waltzing Matilda, which was first written in 1895 by Andrew Barton Paterson, better known as Banjo when he was visiting Winton from Sydney.
The Waltzing Matilda Centre actually burned down in 2015, but has since been completely restored. You can learn about Winton’s movie making history, the birth of Qantas in this little outback town, see a whole collection of different historical artefacts from the town and of course, hear some of the different versions of Waltzing Matilda that has been recorded since it was written. It’s a special place to understand more of Winton and some of its unique history.
Take a photo with the Winton sign
One of our favourite photo spots in outback Queensland, don’t miss the chance to get a sign with the Way Out West Winton sign, which you can find next to the football field at the end of the town. Visit at sunset for a colourful sky and a photo that looks like it might be a movie poster.
If you haven’t visited Winton yet it’s definitely one you need to check out on your travels throughout Queensland. Winton also has an amazing line up of festivals and events throughout the year, including an Outback Festival, Film Festival, Writers Festival, and their iconic Winton’s Way Out West Fest. Make sure you check out their events page to organise your visit around one of these events!
We had such an amazing time exploring the best that Winton has to offer, and left wishing that we had more time to spend there. We can’t wait to get back out there next time we’re driving through Outback Queensland.