“Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong…” You’ll be forgiven for relentlessly whistling this famous tune while you’re in Winton, as it’s the very home of Banjo Patterson’s ‘Waltzing Matilda’. Reputedly inspired by an 1894 shearer’s suicide at the nearby Combo Waterhole and first performed in Winton’s North Gregory Hotel on 6th April 1895, you can learn all about Banjo and the adopted national anthem at the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton.
First settled in 1875 and originally called ‘Pelican Waterhole’, Winton has plenty on offer to keep you busy for at least a day or two. The town is home to Boulder opals that you can view and buy in town and a day trip will take you to Queensland’s oldest opal fields at Opalton. Also just out of Winton is Lark Quarry, where 93 million year-old dinosaur fossils will give you a glimpse into prehistoric times.
The quirky Winton Music Fence, developed by percussionist and composer Graeme Leak, is free and a fantastic spot to let the kids explore their hidden musical talents. Arno’s Wall, a wall surrounding a private residential property in town, is worth a look for its unique construction from all sorts of things including motorbikes, lawn mowers, crockery and historical items.
Winton is in the heart of Matilda Country, a diverse region in which vast mitchell grass plains are broken by magnificently coloured gorges, ridges and mesas; what the locals call ‘jump-ups’. Visitors to the region will be amazed by the vastness of the plains and the undulating nature of the landscape. There is a wide variety of animal and bird life in the area, generally best seen around dusk and dawn on minor roads and tracks.