From the outback Queensland town of Winton in Waltzing Matilda country, the Winton to Longreach trek follows mostly gravel roads passing Mitchell grass plains punctuated by stony ranges and mesas known locally as jump-up country. The trek heads past the Lark Quarry Conservation Reserve and its famous dinosaur tracks to the opal mines and the quaint Aussie general store known as the “Opalton Outpost” at Opalton. Then backtracking again towards the ruins of Mayneside homestead it turns east along a minor and sometimes difficult to follow gravel track towards Vergemont Station. Continuing east along the Longreach Silsoe Road, it eventually meets the Landsborough Highway (Route 66) to the historically significant town of Longreach.
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the terrain is predominantly Mitchell
grass plains punctuated by stony ranges and mesas known locally as jump-up country. During the summer months the temperatures may reach 45 to 50 degrees C. Travel in the region between October and March is not recommended due to high temperatures and possible flooding.
Lark Quarry Environmental Park
Located 110 km from Winton
, the Lark Quarry
Environmental Park with its famous Dinosaur Stampede is an interesting insight into life in western Queensland
some ninety five million years ago. This is the largest group of footprints of running dinosaurs uncovered anywhere in the world. First discovered in the early 1960s it was completely excavated in 1976-77. Three species of dinosaur made the 1200 tracks - a large flesh eating carnosaur and many small coelurosaurs and ornithopods.
The brochure on Lark Quarry
explains the footprints: 'Most of the footprints were made when a carnosaur trapped groups of coelurosaurs and ornithopods on the muddy edge of a lake.' The area is now protected from the weather and clear signs on a 650 metre track explain the events.
fields are a reminder of how things can change in far western Queensland
. Discovered in 1888 they were not worked until 1893. By 1896 there were 500-600 men on the fields but the inevitable problem of water (which had to be carted over 20 km) ensured that when the price of opals dropped the field was abandoned. The township has vanished and all that is left are some ruins and the remains of mullock heaps where miners once fossicked for the precious opals.