Winton

Friday two weeks ago I went to McKinlay. Suddenly all the savannah trees disappear and the flat landscape consisted solely of grassland. It’s again called the Mitchell grass downs. It’s a natural landscape and no trees were slashed down. In McKinlay there is the original pub from the Crocodile Dundee movie (unfortunately, I was there too early in the morning, and it was still closed), even as the main part of the movie was actually shoot in the Kakadu NP in the NT. In McKinlay is also the smallest operating library of Queensland, which featured as the tour office of Mick Dundee in the movie. The truck of the “Never Never Safari Tours” was unfortunately not on display, but I’ve heard that Santa Claus typically takes the vehicle to come to town. I continued my drive to Kynuna. The highway from Cloncurry dwon to the south-east is pretty busy with a lot’s of road trains. This is the historical place of the song Waltzing Matilda. In the “Blue Heeler” pub, both the swagman and the squatter had their last drinks. Nowadays all the pastoral leases around (some are as large as 68,000km²) changed from sheep to cattle. Hence, shearers are no longer necessary. I went to the Combo waterhole, together with 10,000 flies – thanks for this accompaniment, a few km out of town. That’s the place where the song was written down, not actually the waterhole which was mentioned in the song. Nevertheless you can get pretty much a picture how it’s supposed to look like. Within several signs along the waterholes, you get more insight information. The clay makes the banks of the waterholes definitely pretty slippery, so even if you can swim, it’s hard to get out of the waterhole, and you can easily imagine that you could get drowned in the waterholes, if you’re not taking care. After the Combo waterhole the landscape got pretty dry. No grasses around, nothing for the cattle. In the afternoon I finally got to Winton and went to the old train station, which is no longer served by passenger trains, since the final destination is nowadays Longreach. Afterwards I had a walk through the lovely main street with all the renovated houses, but it was everything closed except the two pubs at Friday afternoon. Winton is a pretty small town, but for outback conditions it had all necessary supplies you would need, even a free shower in one of the parks. You can even spend 30$ in the newly built Waltzing Matilda museum.

Suddenly all trees disappeared and you got out from the savannah
The “Walkabout Creek” pub is actually situated in McKinlay…and the only remaining pub of four
Mitchell grass downs along the road…
…with a lot of traffic on the highway. Luckily the road is broad enough, otherwise the pickup trucks speeding on the side and smashing gravel onto the front window.
The Blue Heeler pub was open, and I got a softdrink, when I was escaping from the flies inside. That’s the original pub from the Waltzing Matilda song.
Before I fully stopped the car, there were alroundy thousands of flies at the front chasing for the remains of the grasshoppers the days before.
That’s the actual Combo waterhole, with the eucalyptus trees at the banks. Some memorials are next to it.
Apart from some trees near the banks, the remaining grass downs are absolutely dry. There was definitely no rain in this part of QLD in the recent past.
It’s not as lonely as it might look like. It was actually more traffic than I expected on that road.
There’s no longer traffic at the Winton railway station…
…but at least the few blocks at the CBD looked nice.

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