Campfire The Dinosaur Trail of Queensland

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Revised, Revisited, Rewritten and with pictures!

Dino Trail

 

 

The Dinosaur trail is a well known tour in the triangle between Richmond, Hughenden and Winton. Three towns which sit in and beside the neck of an ancient inland sea, the most recent inundation being some 110 million years ago in what is now central Queensland. Both Hughenden and Winton are on the edge of this once vast sea in marsh and wetlands, where as Richmond is well under this ancient body of water and it is this that defines the fossil deposits of each area.

In a forbie though, you can expand the dinosaur experience for the budding palaeontologist to vaster regions. Lark Quarry some 110 klm down from Winton offers you a glimpse into a world of the great southern hunter, the Theropod's which roamed an ancient land around 100 million years ago in the Cretaceous period, a cousin to the infamous T Rex. Though T. Rex lost his crown as the biggest and nastiest dinosaur to Giganotosaurus in 1994, who was found in South America. It was the Lark Quarry stampede which inspired Spielberg's stampede scene in the Jurassic Park mega movie.

You can first meet Banjo, of the Theropod family in AAOD (Australian Age of Dinosaurs) centre on the Jump up. This is an ancient Mesa only a few kilometres from Winton which is a great place to start you dinosaur experience. The Jump up is the home of the carnivorous dinosaur named Banjo, and a less violent herbivore Elliot and Matilda, the later, both Sauropods which are of the family of some of the largest dinosaurs known, the Titanosaur's. However the meat eating Australian dinosaur, Banjo and his mates roamed the mud flats of Winton which was a seaside resort some 95 million years ago, as well as other parts of Australia. He dined on coelurosaurs, the chicken take-away of the dinosaur world and other smaller animals and evidence of his hunt for a meal can be found at Lark Quarry which is the third of three dinosaur sites in Australia heritage listed as a National monument. Matilda

The day we headed out to Lark Quarry to see the stampede of frightened coelurosaurs fleeing from Banjo, was the day they had closed the dirt road to 2 wheel drive vehicles. A common event in wet months. This made for a lot of fun driving the forbie while towing a 3 ton van. And it was I, not hubby who nearly wiped the van out on the cattle grid, I mention this to make him happy.

One little known fact is that Ipswich was where the first dinosaur footprint of the meat eating Theropod was found in the coal mines and that these footprints were the oldest in Australia being some 215 million years old from the Triassic Period which is the beginning of the age of dinosaurs. Lark Quarry however offers a unique experience in the world in regards to evidence of a story of survival of the hunter and the hunted. A truly unique experience.

On from Winton, you can take the ancient Min Min way to Boulia to see the wonderful collection of dinosaur fossils held by the Boulia Historical Stone House Museum where you can not only meet the predatory ocean dweller the ichthyosaur, but also explore the world of the pioneer families and from there you can head further into the Channel Country via Mount Isa to visit the Riversleigh Centre, and in a forbie, venture north onto the dig site at Riversleigh and truly experience the World Heritage listed site for dinosaur fossils. Many fossils still sitting boldly under the gulf country sun in a field in the middle of no where.

Listed together, Naracoorte caves in SA and Riversliegh in FNQ; these two unique fossil sites record the ancient times of the Megafauna fossils of marsupials and mammals including the era of man. The fossils here are preserved with the help of limestone leached from the earth by the rivers which provide an ideal depository of prehistory of the Pleistocene period spanning some 500,000 yrs, including when humans arrived into Australia some 50,000 years ago.

By making your way back across the Channel Country in the bull dust you can rejoin the fossil highway via Bourke and Wills Station, two very unfortunate lads, and onto Richmond which offers the excellent Kronosaurus Korner Fossil Centre experience where you can meet the Richmond Pliosaur and Elasmosaur, whom you would want to meet while swimming. These were marine reptiles who inhabited the ocean some 100 million year ago and who made life difficult for big fish, squid and turtles mostly. Then venture onto Hughenden where our gigantic Muttaburrasaurus is on magnificent fossil display at the Flinders Discovery Centre. Nick named Hughie, he was the largest dinosaur found and believed to have been something of a gentle giant.

Much credit has to be given to our central Qld outback cockies who discovered many of the dinosaur fossil history as they managed their properties in what once was a vast sea some 100 million years bulldustago which now makes up the Great Artesian Basin depression. If it wasn't for these curious blokes, we would be quite shy of our dinosaur history.

Did you know that Man never lived in the age of the dinosaurs, well not as man anyway. However we did survive in the age of the Megafauna, like the Diprotodon of some two million years ago and the 'Great Ripper' lizard who was twice the size of the komodo dragons of today. It was the age of giant birds, mammals and lizards but then that is perhaps another adventure we can have.