Distance: 793KM | Duration: 4 nights
Starting point: Hughenden
Finishing point: Richmond
Once upon a time giants roamed Queensland’s Outback.
Today we see vast open plains and orange dust replace the temperate forests and inland seas that were once found here some 95-million years ago. It’s here where scientists are literally putting the bones together from the rich fossil deposits found below to uncover Australia’s ancient past. Welcome to dinosaur country.
The world-famous Australia’s Dinosaur Trail is a historical hub found 1,350km west of Brisbane or 380km from Townsville. It links the towns of Hughenden, Winton and Richmond, where you can dust off dinosaur bones, see the evidence of a dinosaur stampede and find Australia’s largest collections of dinosaur and ancient marine reptile fossils.
All you need is a car and a plan to follow in the footsteps of prehistoric giants on a trip of a lifetime.
… And trust us, this is a lesson in ancient history that the kids won’t be rolling their eyes over.
Day 1: Hughenden
Your first stop on Australia’s Dinosaur Trail is Hughenden. The town has its own unique dinosaur stories and chapter in this vast history filled with a mix of fossils from ancient seas, forests and the monsters that stalked them.
Begin your time in Hughenden at the Flinders Discovery Centre which showcases both fossils from the Hughenden area and around the world, from 1865 to the present day. Hughenden’s local celebrity is ‘Hughie’, the seven-metre tall Muttaburrasaurus replica found inside the museum. Psst… if you’ve got your four-pawed family members with you, the Flinders Discovery centre is pet-friendly.
Stroll through the streets to see the series of sculptures from local artists depicting fossils and dinosaurs with a touch of the outback heritage. For those with fossicking fever, save time in your itinerary to make way to the town fossick site (behind the showgrounds) where the kids will love having a go at finding fossils, crystals and moonrocks
To experience what earth really felt like five hundred million years ago, take the 70 kilometre journey to Hughenden’s crowned jewel, Porcupine Gorge. This gorge-ous national park features walking trails, rock pools and stunning sandstone formations that the kids will love.
If you don’t decide to camp here (small fees apply), the Hughenden Allen Terry Caravan Park back in town ticks all the boxes to keep the whole family entertained.
Day 2: Winton
Travel 215 kilometres from Hughenden to Winton this morning, taking the Dinosaur Way.
For today’s history lesson (without the heavy reading), join class (AKA a pre-booked tour) at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs. Perched on ‘The Jump-Up’, 24 kilometres south-east of Winton, you’ll uncover why this town is known as Australia’s Dinosaur Capital.
The natural history museum is home to the world’s largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils. Their four-hour guided Ultimate Dinosaur Tour (included in your Australia’s Dinosaur Trail Pass) will ignite your inner-palaeontologist when you visit their boned-filled collection rooms, working laboratory and jaw-to-flaw impressive Dinosaur Canyon. Prepare to have your #mindblown when you discover how these prehistoric giants are found, and the kids will boast at their next show & tell how they got to touch real dinosaur fossils and meet local residents ‘Banjo’ and ‘Matilda’.
Check out the recently discovered 54-metre-long sauropod tracksite or see how see you size up against the life-sized sauropods found in the March of the Titanosaurs exhibition. This is a selfie opportunity you won’t want to miss.
Looking for a hands-on experience?
Learn to Prep-A-Dino and become an Australian Age of Dinosaurs team member in their lab, helping to put the pieces of the dinosaur puzzle together. Find more information here (minimum age: 12 years).
Trust us, we know palaeontology makes for hungry work. Make way to the onsite Cretaceous Café or retrace your tracks to Winton for tucker. Winton boasts four pubs in town where their classic pub feeds are sure to impress the hungriest of travellers.
While in town, keep an eye out for the dinosaur features around town from murals to life-sized footprints.
Winton has three caravan parks and a free camp area for self-sufficient travellers. Rest your head indoors at one of the many motels or the famed North Gregory Hotel, rumoured to be where ‘Waltzing Matilda’ was first performed.
Day 3: Lark Quarry
If your mini-palaeontologists are wanting to uncover more of Winton’s past, schedule a day trip to Lark Quarry Conservation Park. We suggest an early start from Winton for this one, so begin by starting your day at Winton’s bakery with a cuppa, flaky pastry, plus a road trip snack or two. Fuel up your car too, there’s no fuel on the 110km journey south-west of Winton.
Lark Quarry is the only known evidence of a dinosaur stampede which took place 95-million years ago. Almost 4,000 footprints mark the site of the dramatic event of a stampeding heard of small dinosaurs who were stalked by a larger meat-eating theropod. *Cue the Jurassic Park soundtrack*. Time your trip to be able to join one of the informative guided tours which run for 45 minutes to help you understand the chaotic fossilised mess.
Make your way back to Winton by the afternoon and squeeze in some fun at Winton’s Waterpark or Musical Fence.
Need a break from the steering wheel?
Join a local Savannah Guide on tour from Winton where you’ll gain valuable insight into the ancient surrounds.
Day 4: Richmond
For your final leg of Australia’s Dinosaur Trail, travel 218 kilometres to Richmond along the Marine Fossil Byway. When you arrive, it will take some serious convincing that Richmond was once underwater and dominated by ‘sea monsters’.
Today you’ll dig up Richmond’s past by heading to Kronosaurus Korner. Thousands of people yearly make their way here where its collection of marine fossils date back over 100 million years.
The self-paced experience will have you seeing our prehistoric past come back to life where the museum plays home to almost 1,150 specimens from Richmond and the surrounding areas. Spy through their working Laboratory glass windows to see the experts in action preparing fossils for display.
The locals say, “You’ll dig Richmond”; if getting your hands dirty sounds like your ideal fun, sign up for one of the Kronosaurus Korner digging adventures. This family-friendly experience runs from April to October with additional special school holiday programs, allowing wannabe palaeontologists of all ages to unearth the past at their fossil hunting sites with the help of a real palaeontologist.
If heading out solo is your style, you’ll find the Fossil Hunting Sites 12 kilometres north of Richmond, accessible to all vehicles via fully sealed roads. Please note a fossil hunting permit is required.
Get your permit online here or at Kronosaurus Korner.
Wash off the dirt and cool off with a trip to the Water Park found on Goldring Street, adjacent to Lake Fred Tritton. The kids will love the giant dumper bucket which towers 6 metres high that pays homage to the Kronosaurus.
Kronosaurus Korner is within easy reach of a handful of different accommodation options for the night, from motels to Lakeview Caravan Park which sits metres away from the tranquil Lake Fred Tritton.