Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

Fossils, Waltzing Matilda, The Outback, Qantas and The Universe.

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on October 17, 2010

Hi Everyone,


Kronosaurus Corner



Interesting fossils


Thought the title might get you in this time!  When last I blogged we were leaving Mt Isa and heading for Richmond – billed as the Fossil Capital of Australia.  Whilst this road is not the main highway it is still a major highway and it was very ordinary.  They have had lots of rain over this way and the roads are definitely the worse for it . Richmond is not a very big town (750 pop.) but it was one of the nicest, friendliest and clean  towns we have seen along the way.  We stayed at the only caravan park in town called the Lakeview Caravan Park, which overlooks Lake Fred Tritton.  We didn’t get in till 4pm so we set up camp and went down to check out the lake.  You can swim, boat, canoe and even fish down there and there are lights around the lake so you can walk around it at nighttime.  The boys found some local kids to play with down at the lake as it was school holidays in Qld.  We packed up the van the next morning but left it at the park while we visited Kronosaurus Corner.  It’s called “Australia’s most exciting fossil display” and primarily displays marine reptiles.  We went in to see what it would be like and were amazed at the number of fossils there.  You can tour the museum at your leisure and each person is given a “remote control” that you use to hear each of the exhibits.  You punch in the number of the exhibit you are in front of and you can listen to the explanation for each one.  It meant we could all move about at our own pace and the kids really enjoyed it and actually found it very interesting.  Some of the pieces are well over 100 million years old – it’s very humbling to stand there and see this stuff …….and fascinating too. We stayed for about 2 hours and usually that’s bit of an ask for the kids but they loved it.


Go Wade Go



All Aboard


We passed a lot of heritage signs on our way down the street and stopped to check out the replica of the Cambridge Store. It had some old wagons that have been beautifully restored and a horse statue stored out the back in a “barn”.  The kids enjoyed clowning around on the wagons and the horse too – no helmet required!  There is a “Dinosaur Trail” that you can follow that runs between the towns of Richmond, Hughenden and Winton.  However the roads between Richmond and Winton are predominantly gravel and were flooded so we decided to leave the fossil fossicking to next time around.  As the road from Richmond to Winton was only open to 4WD (and not caravans) we kept on the bitumen going through Hughenden (stopping only to have a photo with “Hughie” the large dinosaur and some lunch by the river) and then on to Winton.  It has to be the WORST road we have ever been on!  They are working on it, but only in patches.  Most of the road had us bouncing and boinging no matter how slow we went, so in between dodging some of the biggest potholes ever and not throwing up from the rollercoaster effect of the bitumen we finally made it to Winton.  We set up and got the kids to do some school work on the tables instead of in the car for a change.


Dinosaur rubbish bins


The water here is from an Artesian well and it has an almost diesel-like smell to it.  We decided to use the water out of the tanks and not fill up drink bottles here. Next day we visited the “Waltzing Matilda Centre” as Winton claims to be the place where Banjo Patterson first penned the lyrics for the song.


Waltzing Matilda Photo


I was amazed that the kids didn’t really know too much about the song, as it was nearly our national anthem! and we had learnt it at school from a very early age.  The centre showcases the truth, myth and legend of the song.  There is a theatrette that displays an audiovisual presentation that brings to life the story of Waltzing Matilda.  It is very good and gave me goosebumps listening to that song.  John Williamson sings the recorded song during the “show” and it’s true that when Australians hear the song, they get very nostalgic. There is a piece on one of the boards that describes how the song was played to our troops overseas and “with it came memories of home, reminders of the common bond of country and a powerful sense of belonging to a people who stood up for themselves in the face of oppression.  Matildas particular appeal for the ordinary man in uniform was that it told the tale of someone jus like him – the battler, the man at the bottom of the social order who would rather die than be bullied into submission and whose creed of a ‘fair go’ for all was what he was fighting for”. How very Australian indeed. There is also a small presentation in which holographic images of ‘Aussies’ talk about Australia and what Waltzing Matilda means to them.  It is so well done.  There are lots of interactive areas to learn about swaggies, Aussie lingo, etc. I have set the boys a project each; Wade will do a presentation on dangerous animals, reptiles and mammals of Australia and Dan will do one on Mr A B Patterson.  They seem okay with the topics so we’ll se how it all goes.  We took our photo through a photoboard, that was pretty funny. There is also a museum out the back that has all sorts of old memorabilia, an old steam train and collections of old coins, lamps, glass, cameras, etc.  We went for a walk down the main street and saw the most amazing bins there – they have fabricated a fibreglass dinosaur foot and the green wheelie bins just fit right in – nicely disguised.


Banjo Patterson and Wade.



Performing cocky


We spent almost 2 hours at the Waltzing Matilda Centre, had an early lunch then headed off for Longreach.  We booked into the Discovery Park (it’s a Top Tourist Park) and set out to the Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Qantas to find out times for tours tomorrow.


Wade and another snake


Back at the caravan park, there was a cocky show with a snake talk as well – Well Wade was beside himself so we went over for a listen.  The  cocky show was entertaining, with the sulfur crested cockies doing tricks on a tightrope.  The owner of the park has a few pet Black-headed Pythons and Olive Pythons which he brought out for his chat.  It was interesting and Wade went up for a hold and a photo with the snakes.  Dan’s not too keen on the buggers and got to admit I’m not too keen either so not quite sure where Wade gets it from. They must sense his loving nature and he keeps asking for a python to have in the caravan – yeeaaah not happening!


Stockman's Hall Of Fame


We headed to the Stockman’s Hall of Fame first thing in the morning.  It is a huge museum that showcases our outback history including Aboriginal ancestry, British settlement, exploration, grazing, agriculture, mining, forestry and farming.  Joel and I found it to be very interesting but there is so much information and most of it is written, so the kids did get bored with it after a while.  There was an R.M. Williams Outback Stockman’s Show which is well worth watching.  The main man was Luke Thomas and he was very entertaining and introduced the boys to some bush poetry, which, to my amazement, they quite liked.


Myrtleford Golden Spurs Rodeo.


It is extra to watch the show but well worth it and a good way to break up the huge amount of information in the museum. There was a section in the museum about rodeos and I found a flyer for the Myrtleford Golden Spurs Rodeo from 1958.  Myrtleford (Victoria) is my hometown and I have been to many a rodeo held every year on Boxing Day, so that was pretty cool.


Well trained horses


We headed to the Qantas Founders Museum after lunch and took a tour of a 747-200 and a 707.  They are guided tours through actual planes, with some panels, walls and ceiling sections removed so you can see what they are made of.  It was very interesting. The museum part has a lot of displays and some interactive sections which kept the kids amused while we learned about the founders of Qantas and how the empire was built.  There were also lots of display planes some in the original old hanger.  The two main guys who built Qantas were returned servicemen and found there was a need for a service to move mail and people faster than by road. Such foresight!


Inside a jet engine


While we were at the Stockman’s Hall Of Fame, we learnt of another guy who does outback shows.  He was on at the local show grounds so we thought we’d go and check it out.  Rusty Frame and Friends was a great show.  Rusty showed us how he trains his cattle dogs, even the pups and gave some demonstrations with the dogs rounding up sheep and ducks.


Boys on a cargo plane


There was also a snake handler (and I’m thinking… here we go again) but she was probably one of the most informative people we have listened to.  She is from Wangaratta (small world) and travels some months of the year with Rusty doing shows and educating people on about the snakes.  There was also a guy called Wayne Campbell who has to be the best whip cracker I have ever seen.  There were some whips and other merchandise available and Joel had bought a green leather stock ship even before the show.  Apparently he has always wanted one – who knew!  Wayne put on a deafening show but man it was good.  I’ve never seen two whips being cracked in time to music before. He brought out people from the audience and demonstrated how accurate he was.


Wade getting whipped


Wade was first out there and he showed us that once the whip has ‘cracked’ it doesn’t hurt anymore or do any damage. So he made sure the whip cracked before he wrapped it around Wade.  It was very good.  He also got a young boy to stand with a long celery stick in his mouth as he proceeded to ‘cut’ it with the whip. The evening ended with lamb sausages and some home-made damper for tea.  Wow what an “Aussie” day we have had.

Long day of driving today as we head for Charleville, which is about 520kms south and which we then re-name Shelbyville after Wade struggles to say it a few times, hee hee.  These roads in Qld have to be the worst flippin roads we have ever been on. Lumpy, bumpy, no shoulders sometimes, pot holes the size of half a tyre, bloody hell!  We have noticed that the countryside is changing though and you can really see the effect of all the rain they have had – EVERYTHING is so GREEN! It’s beautiful! We set up camp at the Bailey Bar Caravan Park.  I mainly wanted to come here to see the Cosmos Centre and Observatory. I was expecting groans from the kids and Joel as I booked 2 sessions of star viewing, one twilight and one night-time.  Well I was pleasantly surprised as they all oohed and ahhed.  Even Wade was still for the entire showing.  It was fantastic.  We all sat down in a “shed”, waiting for the show to start.  The guide pressed a button and vuola`, the domed metal roof just slid apart and the sky was just on dusk.  There was a fair bit of cloud around and as such they had not charged our cards yet,as if they couldn’t run the show then we would have got our money back.  How many places would do that!  We were very lucky that the cloud moved round a bit and we were able to see all that they were showing us.  They have 3 huge Meade telescopes, fully adjustable and GPS coordinated. I was drooling just looking at them – yeah I know, my geekiness coming out again! The guides reeled off heaps of facts about the stars and planets and we all got to see them through the telescopes.  Jupiter was probably most fascinating, even to the boys and Joel, as you could see the rings so clearly and three of the moons. We looked at binary stars, which are two stars that move in the same gravitation pattern together (see geekiness) and also the Magellan cloud which was really cool (see more geekiness:))


Jupiter and her moons


The weather wasn’t too cold but it did cool down for the later session.  We were unsure if there would be a later session as the cloud banks that rolled in were enormous and thick but just as quickly they went away so we had another great viewing.  They showed us constellations, moons on jupiter, yellow, blue and red stars and you can actually see them with your binoculars at night – you don’t need a telescope but it does make it way more pretty. This is our first taste of some cooler weather, jumpers and jeans, mmmmmm not sure I’m ready for this!  Oh and you can’t take any photos as you cannot have any external light or your eyes won’t focus for the telescopes but this picture shows a little of what we saw. Awesome!


Wildflowers galore


We headed off to Roma the next day.  Stopped at the Villa Holiday Park (Big 4 Park) and was amazed at the photos of the floods in the reception area.  The whole park was under water when SE Qld got all that rain earlier this year.  We seem to have been very lucky and stayed ahead of any great rainfalls so far – oohh better not mozz myself.  It was a really lovely park and had a milk bar/deli just over the back fence.  We went to a night-time presentation at the Big Rig and Oil and Gas Museum that explained the history of Roma and how whilst they were looking for water,  had found gas instead.  It was okay but we all agreed it was probably a night better spent doing something else and we were all a bit tired.


Changing countryside


We headed off to Dalby the next morning and stayed at the Dalby Tourist Park.  It was a lovely little park as well and the lady in reception was very nice and helpful too. Lots of washing and cleaning today!! We only stayed for one night here as well as we are heading towards Brisbane as Joel has made the decision to have the car modified for our travels.  For all who are interested I will get him to post all that he has done to it on the page about the car.  It is going to take between 5 to 7 weeks to have modified and it is a long time to be without a car, so we are hiring a car for the duration.

Off to Doonan on the Sunshine Coast today to see our friends from Karratha, the Websters. The kids are so excited and can’t wait to see them all.

Till next time



2 Responses to “Fossils, Waltzing Matilda, The Outback, Qantas and The Universe.”

  1. Nicole said

    Wade what’s with all the snake photo’s. Very difficult to read your blog. Have to shut my eyes when your photo’s come up
    Sounds like you are all having a lovely time and learning lots. Daniel you look like you have grown even taller-you’ll be giving Uncle Grant a run for his money.
    Lots of love Aunty Nicole xxxx

    • Thanks Nicole, Yes we will try to limit the snake photos just for you:) Daniel has had a huge growth spurt and giving both Joel and I a run for our money in the height stakes! The cracking voice is pretty funny too (well to us it is) and we are getting a lot of mileage out of it:). Having fun even with the wet weather, Catch ya, Love the Travelling Lewis xxx

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