I have very mixed reviews from our time at Winton. The town itself is lovely. Set in the middle of no where the people here seem to like nothing better than welcoming tourists. They have made plenty if touristy attractions and work very hard to make sure you have a pleasant, hospitable and information packed stay in their town.
Winton itself was the part of this trip that my kids were most excited about because it was the gateway to all of our dinosaur activities.
You can just imagine the excitement in our group as we arrive at the information desk in Winton and find out that not only are all of the towns garbage bins shaped like dinosaur feet but also that the pub here offers free camping behind its beer garden. Ben, ever the tight arse was excited about not having to pay for accom, even though I pointed out that this would mean he would probably spend a lot more on beer. Seeing as everyone who we had met in Winton so far had been friendly we had no reason to doubt the intentions of the pub owner.
The pub itself was quite nice and the camping area, directly behind the beet garden, also looked ok so we decided to stay. We parked our vans and off we set to visit the Waltzing Matilda Centre and the Age of the Dinosaurs Museum. The waltzing matilda centre was quite boring for the kids but I'm sure all of the grey nomads wandering around found it fascinating. I would have enjoyed it more had I not had a sore throat and been surrounded by a flurry of bored kids.
We then headed off to the Dinosaur museum to watch palaeontologists working on actual dinosaur bones. Kylah was fascinated and has organised with us to come back in 5 years time, when she is 12, so she can be a volunteer on a dig. We snuck Diddy up on a shelf to take a pic of her with a dinosaur femur. I have included the pic below.
After a very busy day of driving, sightseeing and setting up (this was the first time we had unhooked the caravan) we headed back to our van at the pub, excited about the bbq in the beer garden and relaxing having a few drinks. I had to venture to the loo so I took the opportunity to check out the amenities, or should I say amenity - as there was only one toilet and shower for the men and women to share - and they were in the same tiny room.
I don't think I have an extensive enough vocabulary to describe this bathroom adequately.... but I wil try. Do you know the theme song from jaws?? well that was playing in my head as I entered the bathroom and as my eyes adjusted to the darkness that high pitched screech that is in the chorus of the jaws song began to ring in my ears. Do you remember the toilet scene from train spotting?? well the bathroom resembled that. It was dark and mouldy and looked like it hadn't been cleaned since 1942. I backed out slowly thinking to myself 'i should take a photo of this for my blog' but not wanting to expose my phone, which is often held quite close to my head, to the contamination and germs in that room.
I was equally repulsed and surprised that most of our group (including my husband and children) wanted to shower in there. I much would have preferred Ben come to bed covered in red dust and sweat than to come to bed having just stepped out of what I consider to be hell on earth.
It all went down hill from the moment everyone had finished with their showers. There seemed to be 3 people running the pub. one was an elderly man who seemed quite lovely, and who explained to us that he had parkinsons disease. The others were two foreign ladies who were difficult to understand (perhaps one was married to the old guy who owned it???). Even though I could not understand their words there was absolutely no mistaking their tone. One of them screamed at Kylah and Rohan because they had dared to sing and the other one looked at you like she wanted to poke you in the eye with a stick.
The bbq in the beer garden was a disaster. It was supposed to have included steak, salad, bread and mushroom soup. I was less than impressed with the lousy salad, frozen bread and mushroom soup sitting on a table with flies buzzing around it but after an hour if waiting for some meat I succumbed and dished Ben up a styrofoam cup two thirds full of mushroom soup and gave the kids and myself a few pieces of bread. Considering we had spent $60 on dinner I hoped it would get better. At about 8pm the lady marched over and told me that she had no more meat left. she wasn't apologetic in the slightest. I asked her if I could have a refund and she screamed at me 'no!! you ate soup and bread!!!' In the end she decided to only charge me $10 for the tiny bit of soup and 3 slices of frozen bread. She was so aggressive I was not game to say anything to her. I went back to our group and told them that I did not care what they wanted to do, there was no way I was staying one more night in that hell hole.
Even though it was free to stay there, there were so many rules and regulations you felt anything BUT free. you were not made to feel welcome in the slightest. Considering there are plenty of free bush camps around I would rather be there, where my kids can sing and play, than in the awful Gregory Hotel in Winton.
This morning we woke early and headed out on a 4 hour round trip to Lark Quarry to see the footprints left from a dinosaur stampede. It was amazing. I was so engrossed in what our tour guide was saying and astounded by the clarity of each and every footprint. It looks like they were made yesterday, not 65 million years ago!! We got to hold dinosaur bones and touch fragments of the imprinted rocks. The museum is amazing!! it had been built around the footprints to preserve them from the weather.
Anyway, I have to go... we are on or way to Macinlay and Ben is complaining that while I an writing this I am not talking to him... better go and play 20 questions. Gotta keep the driver happy!!!