Australia’s Dinosaur Trail is where travellers venture to see some of the most significant fossil deposits in the world, clustered in a trail that links the towns of Winton, Richmond and Hughenden in Queensland’s Outback.
Doing a ‘dinosaur trip’ in Outback Queensland is bigger and better every year, as the trail evolves with new things to do along the way.
Here’s your guide to unearthing all the best things to do along the trail.
WALK AMONGST THE DINOSAURS IN WINTON
On a plateau near Winton, views stretch to the far Outback horizon, but you’ll find your neck craned upward at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs as you on a stroll amongst giant life-sized dinosaurs. Continuing into Dinosaur Canyon, dozens more sculpture dinosaurs lie in wait, occupied in position as though going about a day in this rugged Winton landscape, where these dinosaurs once roamed.
Inside the museum, tour guides walk you through the stories left behind in dinosaur footprints. As wide as a basketball court and twice as long, the March of the Titanosaurs’ exhibit is a remarkable preservation of footprints, revealing creatures giant and small arriving and traversing a well-used billabong.
Your Australia’s Dinosaur Trail Pass gives access to all this, plus the Fossil Preparation Laboratory (the most productive in the Southern Hemisphere!) and unearthed bones in the Collection Room.
SEE THE WORLD’ S ONLY DINOSAUR STAMPEDE
Winton is Australia’s dinosaur capital and it’s here, 110km along the trail at Lark Quarry Conservation Park lies the only evidence of a dinosaur stampede on the planet!
It’s a reality check moment standing before the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument. This is the real deal, the exact site where over 3,300 dinosaur footprints remain scattered over a rock face where the stampede occurred some 95 million years ago. Guides accompany you through the giant exhibit and their knowledge brings to life the exhilarating few minutes in time that once occurred in this extraordinary place.
Allow time to explore the spectacular scenic walk onsite. Your must-have Australia’s Dinosaur Pass includes entry and guided tour of the stampede.
TOUR THE GALAXY IN AN OUTBACK OBSERVATORY
Literally lay back and enjoy the starry show after dark in Winton. Atop the ‘Jump-Up’ (that’s the elevated spot where the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum sits) the lack of light pollution has seen this location become Australia’s First International Dark Sky Sanctuary.
Join a guided tour of the galaxy with astronomy guides at Gondwana Stars Observatory, where reclined seats give views from the only open-topped observatory in Australia. The dark outback sky unveils the full breadth of our spiral galaxy, as guides point out fascinating details not usually seen. Look out for dark nebulae, they are the regions that become stellar nurseries where new stars are born!
DAY & NIGHT OUT IN ELDERSLIE STREET
As far as Outback towns go, Winton sure packs a punch and all the fun goes down on the main drag, Elderslie Street.
At one end of the street the iconic Waltzing Matilda Centre tells more fascinating tales than you could imagine of Australia’s beloved Banjo Paterson and his bush ballad Waltzing Matilda.
The other end of Elderslie Street is where all sensibilities fall apart at Winton’s newest attraction, The Crackup Sisters’ House and Yard. The larrikin Winton sisters famed from their appearances at events and festivals across the Outback, invite you to their very own quirky home. Play outback games, see the International Flea Circus Training Facility, hear some of The Crackup Sisters stories, watch some docos and generally have a laugh.
Next it’s time to pay a visit to the Grand Old Lady, in the centre of Winton. The North Gregory Hotel (where Waltzing Matilda was first performed) puts on a showy display of Art Deco elegance. The elegant looks however give way to relaxed good times in the vast beer garden where for much of the year nightly stage entertainment features a swagman theatre show and other live entertainment.
SLING BACK FOR SILVER SCREEN MAGIC
A night out on Winton’s Elderslie Street isn’t complete without watching the stars of the screen, under the stars! The cinema curtain was first raised in Winton’s Royal Theatre in 1918, entertaining Cobb & Co coach travellers and locals. Today the old-style sling back chairs remain in position in this open-air cinema, inviting modern-day outback travellers for a night out at ‘the flicks’ in one of the world’s most unique cinema venues. Bring your blanket in the cooler months and snuggle under for a night out you’ll never forget.
THE MONSTER REASON TO VISIT RICHMOND
In the little outback town of Richmond there aren’t many street corners… but there’s a monster-size reason to visit one of its corners and it’s literally unmissable. The star of the town is the giant Kronosaurus that sees travellers hit the brakes at the sight of its monstrous welcome to town. He marks your arrival at Richmond’s Kronosaurus Korner, Australia’s best marine fossil museum.
Jurassic and Triassic monsters once dominated this area, once Australia’s ancient inland sea. Entry to Kronosaurus Korner is included with your must-have Australia’s Dinosaur Trail Pass.
FOSSIL HUNTING IN RICHMOND
You only have to scratch the surface of Richmond to find a whole lot more to unearth. Fossicking sites just 12 kilometres from town conceal fossilised fish, squid, shark teeth and even giant marine reptiles waiting to be discovered.
Join the experts on a Digging at Dawn guided tour (available April to October) or bring your own equipment and head out to one of two fossicking sites yourself as a DIY Palaeontologist for the day. Tour bookings, fossicking permits, tools, maps and helpful advice are all available at Kronosaurus Korner.
SEE HUGHIE IN HUGHENDEN
‘Hughie’ the seven metre-tall Muttaburrasaurus is the centrepiece of the dino-discoveries awaiting in Hughenden. His reconstructed skeleton stands impressively on guard over the fossil collection at the Flinders Discovery Centre. There is much to learn from the rocks and small fossils on display, and a movie revealing the geology and formation of Porcupine Gorge. Entry to the Flinders Discovery Centre is included with your Australia’s Dinosaur Trail Pass.
Search for your own Hughie at Hughenden’s free fossicking site behind the showgrounds. Conduct your own dino fossil-dig on the ancient Eromanga sea bed, just BYO digging equipment, no license required.
WALK IN AUSTRALIA’S ‘LITTLE GRAND CANYON’
Flat plains around Hughenden give way to towering sandstone cliffs where Porcupine Creek has carved out Australia’s “Little Grand Canyon”. Porcupine Gorge National Park is a masterpiece of sandstone structures and deep permanent waterholes, accessed on walking tracks to lookouts and into the bottom of the gorge. ‘The Pyramid’ rises up from the floor of the gorge, in its multicoloured sandstone beauty.
A day spent here amid the dense vegetation and clear flowing creek is a step into an outback oasis of bush walking, bird watching and swimming. Porcupine Gorge National Park is 63 kms or 1 hour 5 minutes north of Hughenden.
TAKE IN 360 DEGREES OF BEAUTY
Blazing outback sunsets can appear endless and nowhere more spectacularly than from the six vantage points of Hughenden’s Mount Walker Lookouts. Time your visit with sunset and take in 360° views to appreciate these remarkable lookouts at their best. Check your vehicle suitability as the ascent includes steep inclines.
4WDRIVING THE BASALT BYWAY
If your outback dinosaur adventure has you hitting the road 4WD ready, then take the 95 kilometre Basalt Byway north of Hughenden for ruggedly spectacular landscapes.
Passing through deep and long valleys bordered by Basalt walls, excellent lookouts and heaps of wildlife to spot along the way. If you’re visiting in drier months, Hughenden’s famed Flinders Poppies will be in flower, marking out red stains across the landscape.