We arrived in Winton as the first town on our “Dinosaur Trail“. We stayed in the Tattersall’s Hotel Van Park and though it is highly rated, is not much more that a car park with power and a set of toilets and showers. It is close to the business strip and the Tattersall’s Hotel across the road, is very well patronised for its meals, and rightly so, they do an excellent pub meal. It is an OK place to stay for a few nights but does only have basic facilities, very crowded, no camp kitchen and no WIFI. They do have a free laundry though, just be aware that Winton is entirely reliant on bore water, so it does have a bit of a sulphur smell, but we didn’t really notice it except when water first came out of the tap.
Winton is a small town but has a lot of community spirit. It has typical country shop hours as well as a Spar and Foodworks grocery stores but don’t expect to buy coffee after 2pm. It has three pubs and is the goto place for outback locations in movies and television shows. One of the pubs is the historic North Gregory hotel, (check out Brizzy Mays great post about that and Winton.) The town has the typical country humour with several art pieces down the middle of the main street. From steel sheep, cows reading the paper on the bench (Note: the papers only arrive in the town after 1:30pm), the pond for the pelicans, the obligatory dinosaur mural and art piece celebrating Waltzing Matilda.
Speaking of Waltzing Matilda, Winton was the closest town to the station where Banjo Patterson penned his aussie icon. The Matilda Centre (pictured at the top of the page) does celebrate the song and history, provides a gift shop as well containing an art gallery and the towns information centre. It is worth the visit even if you do not want to pay to go through the museum.
Another fascinating place is The Royal Theatre, one of only two outdoor picture theatres remaining in Australia. The theatre is open as a museum during the day but is still operating a couple of times a week as a picture theatre. B and I were lucky enough the see one of the earliest John Wayne movies, really early and now hilarious, while enjoying popcorn in the sling back seats. While I was touring the theatre during the day, I got to have an interesting chat with the local tourism officer while helping him mend chairs in readiness for the evenings performance. If you notice the skating sign below, the theatre is still user as a skating rink by the local school as one of the sports options during the day because of the flat area near the stage.
Quite an interesting town and we will be back. What will bring us back is the dinosaurs but that is for another post.