Winton and the Waltzing Matilda Centre

Our late morning drive to Winton from Longreach was pretty quiet, passing only a few roadtrains and other caravanners heading in the opposite direction.

We knew that the caravan park options were all booked out so we headed straight for the Tourist Information section of the Waltzing Matilda Centre. Here we were able to book a site at the local showgrounds for a few nights and find out about dog sitting options. That sorted we drove over to the showgrounds and set up the caravan on another bare site and checked out the amenities block, which was quite big. By now we were pretty hungry so we organised lunch. With another couple of attractions to see in the next couple of days we rang the first of the suggested dog sitters. Yes she was able to look after Mel and yes we could come around for a meet and greet. So off we went to meet Val. She was a friendly, elderly lady with a small dog of her own who was easily frightened by our arrival but did adjust to our, and more importantly, Mel’s presence. All was arranged for the following day. Next we drove to one of the small supermarkets and the butcher shop to buy supplies for dinner. Back at the showgrounds we cooked up dinner and ate as the sun set.

The next morning we dropped Mel off to the dog sitter on our way into Winton town. We did a short walk around the main street area. First up was a statue of the jolly swagman.

Just opposite the Waltzing Matilda Centre an old wagon was on display.

Just along the road was one of a number of opal shops. Clearly the owner of this one had an interesting sense of humour.

Further up in the median strip of the street was a set of sculptures of jumbucks (aka sheep).

We crossed over to the other side of the street and made our way back past the shops and the famous North Gregory Hotel, which according to the display board has had a challenging history.

As we made our way into the Waltzing Matilda Centre we couldn’t help but admire the beautiful mulla mullas in bloom in their garden.

Waltzing Matilda Centre

Now according to their website the Waltzing Matilda Centre tells the story of the famous song, Waltzing Matilda, as well as the colonial history of Winton and the neighbouring outback region. The current re-incarnation is very modern, having been rebuilt after the original 1998 centre burnt down in 2015.

Unlike all the other major tourist attractions in Longreach and Winton advance bookings weren’t needed.

Admission costs

Tickets costs at the time of our visit were – Adults $32, Concession $29, Children (5-11) $12 and Family (2 adults and up to 4 children) 67. Tickets include access to the interpretive display, the Quantilda Museum, The Exhibition Space and the Art Gallery.

Our visit

After Karen checked in on the QLD Government App and I signed in on the visitors book we made our way through two large doors into the first room. It was entirely dedicated to the song Waltzing Matilda. There was a mounted display of the original sheet music as well as record and CD covers of many of the hundreds of artists who have recorded Waltzing Matilda over the years.

From that small room we moved into the main hall of the rebuilt section. Waltzing Matilda is an Unofficial Anthem which some Australians would have as the Official anthem but I like our current anthem, Advance Australia Fair personally.

Again there were many artefacts linked to the song and its many recordings.

Most of the other displays in this area were dedicated to pioneering days of British and European settlement.

On the far side of the hall we came upon a couple of movie posters. Winton and surrounds has been the location for several Australian movies.

Just as we looking at these movie posters a voice behind us says, “Thought we may find you still here. We saw your name in the visitors book.” We turned around to see an old teacher of all of our sons, David, and his wife, Di. They live about 10 minutes from us and are also mad Melbourne Football Club supporters. We quite often see them at the football when back home. They were also travelling around with their caravan and heading north to Cloncurry next, whilst we would be heading NE to Hughenden. We had a chat for a while, discussing where we had been. They had been on the road about a month longer than us. As it turned out they had a booking at the Age of Dinosaurs that afternoon at the same time as us so we left them to explore the inside part of the museum and we went out to the outdoor section where there was an old locomotive engine and some old cars to see.

On the outside wall of the vehicle shed we found a large collection of stencils. These were used by the various farms to label bales of wool when shearing was finished.Further along several rooms in the next building displayed rooms as they would have been in the 1800s. There were also collections of clothes, household goods and furniture. One room that fascinated me was the display of a telephone exchange system. Before the days of computers, workers (mostly women) manned these switchboards to connect phone calls between callers and receivers. Fascinating.

Time to move on and eat some lunch so we could make the short drive out to the Age of Dinosaurs Museum for our appointed starting time. More about that next post.

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