The Dinosaur Trail
What was Queensland like 100 million years ago?
Driving through the sweeping plains of outback Queensland, it’s not hard to imagine a time when dinosaurs like the 15-metre-long Diamantinasaurus and the T-Rex-like Australovenator roamed the desert landscape.
Follow in the footsteps of Queensland’s unique prehistoric megafauna on the Dinosaur Trail, a 545km round-trip through three western Queensland towns.
Winton to Richmond (218km, 3 hours)
Best known as the birthplace of Qantas and where AB ‘Banjo’ Paterson penned Waltzing Matilda, Winton has become the dinosaur capital of Queensland, with the discovery of fossils and footprints from nine dinosaur species in the area.
Visit the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, home of the world’s largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils. Tours of the dinosaur collections and Australia’s largest fossil preparation laboratory take place daily.
Travel 110km (including 65km unsealed road) south-west of Winton to the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument at Lark Quarry Conservation Park to the only known evidence of a dinosaur stampede on the planet. The stampede is believed to date back 95 million years to the Cretaceous Period when a predatory T-Rex-like carnosaur chased a heard of smaller, two-legged herbivore dinosaurs through the region. The stampede scene in Jurassic Park was based on evidence from the Winton stampede.
There’s no fuel, food or drink between Winton and the Stampede Monument, so fuel up and pack your esky before you leave.
Richmond to Hughenden (112km, 1.2 hours)
It’s hard to believe that 100 million years ago Richmond was covered by a vast inland sea teeming with pre-historic reptiles and marine life. Today, Richmond is home to 648 people and best known for its marine fossil finds.
View more than 1100 unique fossils found in Richmond at Kronosaurus Korner, including the 11-metre-long ‘Richmond Pliosaur’ and Kunbarrasaurus Ieversi, some of the best-preserved marine reptile fossils in the world – including fossilised skin. Much of the museum’s collection has been donated by local graziers who came across fossils while tending their properties.
Visitors to the museum can watch fossils being processed at the world-class fossil preparation laboratory.
Awaken your inner-palaeontologist by fossicking for fossils at one of Richmond’s free, dedicated fossil hunting sites. You may uncover fossilised fish, birds, marine reptiles or shark teeth and can take your discoveries to Kronosaurus Korner to be assessed and identified by a museum curator.
Hughenden to Winton (215km, 2.5 hours)
More than 3000 fossil specimens from the Cretaceous period have been found in the Hughenden district, including Muttaburrasaurus Langdoni and the pterodactyl-like ‘Queensland Pterosaur’.
The Flinders Discovery Centre is home to an extensive fossil collection including ‘Hughie’, a life-size replica Muttaburrasaurus skeleton, and the starting place for the Hughenden Town Walking Tour. Wander the streets with a local tour guide to discover the stories, special moments, architecture and historical events that make Hughenden what it is today.
Trek 1.2km to the base of the Porcupine Gorge National Park to take in the coloured sandstone cliffs, swim in deep natural pools and explore lush vine forest – a stark contrast to the dry surrounding plains.
Finish the day with a trip to Mt Walker, 10km south of Hughenden, to take in a spectacular outback sunset.