Our tour’s itinerary included a visit to Bladensburg Nation Park. We wandered through the old homestead with its big shearing shed and gained a snapshot of the original grazing property’s history and the lives of those who lived and worked on the land. The magic of the rugged beauty of flat-topped mesas, plateaus, sandstone ranges and rock formations captivated me once again.
rom the top of the jump ups you can see how the rocks have broken off, leaving the surface with deep running fissures.
You have to carefully negotiate your step, because if you dropped something it would be lost in the deep crevices forever. I made sure to keep my phone secure.
Our walk along the top of the ridge took us to a billabong, where afternoon tea was waiting to be demolished. The overhanging coolabah trees evoked images of Banjo Patterson penning the story of Waltzing Matilda.
Excitedly I showed Jaimie the photo of my world changing discovery of Dinosaurus printus Herlundus leftus (DPHL). He probably had seen it all before as he did not share my enthusiasm and lamely suggested that I send my evidential photo to the Queensland Museum, who would no doubt add it to their multitudinous collection for identification. I like to think it is the imprint of the real thing and I’ll stick to that idea. Remember, you read it here first.
A sunset tour of Rangelands Station was our next stop. This included an astounding walk through the Rangeland Rifts. I have never seen, been, or walked in this kind of landscape, which to me is rockscape. Millions of years shaped these rock and cave formations.
I was not surprised to learn that movies like Goldstone, The Proposition, and Mystery Road were shot in this region, nor the establishment of an upmarket glamping facility on top of the range.
I think the following images need no commentary; they speak for themselves. Unable to select only one or two images, I decided to share a few.
I think that the adjective monumental comes closest to describing the phenomenal wonder of this region’s magic.
As the moon rose over the rock formation, the sun was setting behind us over the plains.
A platter of delicious morsels of nibbles, complemented by Bubbly awaited our partaking. Overwhelmed by the spectacular setting of the blood-red sun we ceased our chats with fellow travellers to absorb the atmospheric tranquillity.
The awe of what we had experienced left us in wordless contemplation on our return to Winton.
I have never seen so many galahs sitting every evening on electricity lines as in Winton. All you see is a wobbly line of incessantly chatting birds close to each other.
The unofficial national song that lives in the heart of most Australians is Waltzing Matilda. A large area in the Waltzing Matilda Centre is dedicated to the history surrounding Andrew Barton Paterson composing this iconic song. ‘Banjo’ Paterson visited the area around Winton in 1895 and collaborated with Christina Macpherson who arranged the melody. It is said that Paterson was inspired by the daunting magnificence of the landscape and the tales about the people whose resilience gave them the strength needed to work the land.
I absorbed with great interest the German references in the title. Waltzing is the German term auf der Walz sein when journeymen (tradesmen) wandered traditionally from town to town to gain work experience. Matilda dates to the 1600s, when Mathilde was the name of a camp used by German soldiers. Austrians adopted the name for their warm greatcoats and blanket rolls, as well as female ‘companions’ who kept a soldier warm at night. In the 1850s the word found its way to Australia when migrants working on the goldfields used the term for a bundle of belongings that were wrapped in a blanket, or a swag.
Since its inception in 1895 the song has been recorded in over 500 versions and numerous languages. I was tickled to see that French actor and cabaret singer Yves Montand recorded the French version as a mournful love song in 1949.
Below is my performance of this iconic song.
Drooling over stunning opals in several Opal shops, only to find that I had left my wallet at home and Geoff had obviously decided it was time to hide, necessitates a return visit to Winton with either a bag full of money, or a non-hiding husband.
We walked up to the Musical Fence. This is a wire fence that can be struck to make a pleasant noise. Groups of pots and pans, set up like drum kits, can be banged. A percussionist was working up a sweat on one of the drum sets with such enthusiasm that I felt unable to compete.
A monument celebrating Winton as the birthplace of Qantas is erected close to the Musical Fence.
As I mentioned earlier, Winton hosts many festivals, like The Dressmaker Costume Exhibition, Music, Opals, Camels, Outback, Out-west, Out-east, you name it, they have a festival for it. It is a place for many interest groups.
Like all good trips, this one too had come to an end. We left to say see you again rather than goodbye.
In Longreach we boarded The Spirit of the Outback, to travel 1325 km in 26 hours to Brisbane. We were pleasantly surprised to settle into a spacious cabin that converted into a sleeper bunk at night.
Our meals were served in the Dining wagon, they were delicious, and the service was impeccable. I think in future we will do more of that kind of hassle-free travel.
At the various stops along the route, we were able to disembark and explore the close vicinity of the railway station. In Barcaldine we absorbed the historic background of the Tree of Knowledge.
This ghost gum is famous as the founding site of the Australian Labor Party in 1891. 3000 striking shearers protested under the Tree and the ‘Eureka’ flag to demand better working condition and higher wages. Since then, the Tree has become an icon of the Labor Party and Trade Unions.
The Tree of Knowledge was included in the National Heritage list on 26/1/2006, but unfortunately it was poisoned in the same year. Its remains were taken to Brisbane for the world’s first preservation process. The Tree was returned to Barcaldine and placed under an Award-winning timber structure. Today the Tree serves as an important place to meet and remember the fight for a betterment of working conditions.
After a pleasant sleep and a good breakfast, we arrived in Brisbane on schedule at 11:55 am. Having experienced the outback with its magnificent beauty my appetite is whetted to explore more of this amazing continent. And I plan to revisit the Winton region, if only to show the Queensland Museum experts my DPHL find in situ.
Reader, writer and snippeter.
Loves listening to classical music and jazz, visiting art galleries with expressionistic paintings, going the live theatre, seeing movies and absolutely adores, apart from her two gorgeous granddaughters, travelling to Europe.
Readily surrenders domestic chores to meet with friends for any of the three c’s – chat, coffee and champers.