Outback tripping part two: Winton, Jump-Ups and feisty steers

Click to read Outback tripping part one: Longreach  

I definitely count Winton as the Outback. A recent trip to a property just out of Winton, in Jump-Up country, confirmed it for me.  

Winton Jump-Up


A bit of a drive out of Winton we came to the entrance to the property. I was driving so my colleague struggled with the gate. I was about to get out and help when I realised this would be my job as passenger on our way back. Closing the gate behind us, we commented on whether the few young steers, maybe half a dozen or so, nearby would be a problem on the dirt road. My colleague leaned over and hit the horn. Not a good move, as the young cattle then decided to follow us.  

We were lucky not to be visiting in the rain. Even in our 4WD, I wouldn’t have liked to tackle the track. Some ten or so minutes later we came to the huge homestead. Large wide wraparound verandahs instantly cooled the interior decorated in traditonal country fare – the real stuff, not the decorator items purchased in a gift store. A few emu eggs collected off the property were also on display.  

I didn’t get to see the whole house. I’m sure I would have gotten lost if I went exploring. The kitchen took up three rooms. The refrigerator took up one wall with a series of stainless steel heavy duty doors. I have only seen the equivalent in large, busy restaurant kitchens. My colleague commented on how large the freezer was. Nah. We had one that size when I was a child. Could fit in the sheep that grazed the lawn around our house after Dad slaughtered it. [To this day I can’t eat mutton.]  

The children of the property happily told us how they could drive and did we want to go look at the horses, only a short distance away by not very sturdy looking vehicle. They also told us how much they made on their cattle after successfully raising them, and about their schooling through the School of the Air (a reason given for a child missing school one day was that he was out ‘castrating’). These kids knew their maths. They could tell me the cost per beast at the recent sales, how many head per acre, and more. I bet they didn’t think school helped them with those equations.  

[Check out another story – a day in the life of a property owner – This family run a string of cattle properties from their home property which lies between Longreach and Winton.] 

On the way back along the track to the main road we saw many hundreds of steers all come along the track to see us. Or see us off. They were a feisty bunch. My colleague was driving while I was looking into the eyes of the young steers closest to the vehicle. A nasty one took to broncoing about and turned, with head down, ready to charge the vehicle. On my side.  

My colleague later said she put her foot down on the accelerator to get the hell out of there but the car didn’t move. That 0.005 of a second it took for the vehicle to respond seemed like a minute as I watched in slow motion the young steer paw the ground and throw his head and hooves about to show who was boss of that thar track. We got away to tell the tale (strangely enough, it gets a tad more scary and dangerous each time it is told).  

Much nervous laughter followed as we travelled down the highway, working out how to tell the story back at work:  

Ahh … you know how the car got a scratch when I parked it last week? Well ….  

Anyone for a side of beef? We have it in the vehicle to bring back with us.  There is a little problem we need help with though … how to detach the cow from the car.  

Did you know that most of the dinosaur fossils found in Australia are in the Winton surrounds. The site of a major find is a Jump Up or a mesa formation. It is a natural flat-top plateau 5 klm long, 2 klm wide, rising high above the surrounding plain, easily seen from the highway.   

This site is so much more important than just visual relief from the flat landscape. It houses the fossil remains of dinosaurs that once roamed the area near on 100 million years ago. Three new dino species were identified in 2009, and perhaps appropriate to the area, nicknamed Clancy, Banjo and Matilda.*  

One of these – Banjo – has an uncanny resemblance to the raptors of Jurassic Park.  

Image from Australian Age of Dinosaurs

Diamantinasaurus (Matilda), Wintonotitan (Clancy) and Australovenator (Banjo).


Further towards Hughendon are the tracks of a dinosaur stampede.  

I so much wanted to stop and check out the dinos but time was not on our side. That will have to wait til next visit to the area. If you can’t wait, check these sites out:  

Winton Dinosaurs  

Australian Age of Dinosaurs  

Dinosaur Trackways  

* Did you know Winton was the site of the first recital of Banjo Patterson’s Waltzing Matilda?  

Click to read Outback tripping part one: Longreach


One response to “Outback tripping part two: Winton, Jump-Ups and feisty steers

  1. Great diversionary reading, interesting links – better than studying for exam, transposing lecture notes, editing essay . . .

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