Winton is dinosaur country. In the winter months, tourists flock there to see the prehistoric footprints and take a step back in time to image what the dinosaur age was really like. And they pay a small fortune to do it too. Personally, dinosaurs don’t hold much appeal for me. But my significant other was keen, so after baulking at the entry fee for the first dinosaur tourist complex, we drove south of Winton to visit the Dinosaur Stampede Museum.
This was no small accomplishment. One hundred and ten kms of rich, red dirt and bull dust dragging a caravan behind us had me hoping that this was worth all the effort. And surprisingly it was. For half the cost of the other tourist attraction, we were given an hour long tour which did not fail to impress – even me.
In the early 1960s an opal prospector who was down on his luck boiled the billy and took consolation in a cuppa. As he was staring aimlessly at the rocks in front of him, he absentmindedly turned one over and noticed a footprint on the rock he was holding. Funny, it looked like a chicken foot. But what would a chicken be doing out here, he wondered. As he turned over other rocks he was astonished to discover more of what he thought were chicken feet imprints. Best to ask his mates at the local over a beer. The consensus was that expert advice was needed, for all agreed, that opal country south of Winton was hardly likely to be home for a chicken.
A local historian soon confirmed that the astute prospector had discovered something far more significant than chicken feet. He had in fact uncovered dinosaur footprints and this was indeed a great boon. In fact, after extensive diggings, a great dinosaur stampede was discovered. Since 2005 the myriad of tracks have been protected in a ginormous weather and vermin-proof shed, on display to the awe and appreciated of locals and tourists alike.