Discover the global epicentre of dinosaur digs

​​​​​​​​​Discover the global epicentre of dinosaur digs


​​​“This is not just a museum,” booms George Sinapius, a hyper-energetic fossil expert whose slim build is at odds with his bellowing opening line. “It’s a living heritage and it’s uncovering the secrets of the past.”

We are standing on the edge of the ‘Jump Up’, a flat-topped outcrop of land, some 20 kilometres southwest of Winton. Around us lies an impossibly perfect landscape; marmalade toned boulders roll up next to sensibly strong mulgas while the distant plains offer a vista so grand, we can sense the curvature of the earth. 

The “this” George refers to is the Australian Age of Dinosaurs, a not-for-profit organisation, a laboratory, and a museum of natural history with a single agenda – to dig up bones.

No ordinary bones, mind you, but the priceless reminder of the dinosaurs that freely roamed Queensland’s central west 95 million years ago. A time when pine forests with a luscious understory littered the shores of large freshwater rivers and creeks.

Local farmer David Elliott, discovered the first dinosaur fossil while mustering sheep on his property a little over 20 years ago. Since that initial find, he and a growing team have worked tirelessly to recover dozens of relics around the Winton area.

Some of these have been painstakingly reconstructed into full-scale creatures with fondly dubbed nicknames for display, like “Banjo” and “Matilda”.

Dinosaur Canyon

Collection room

​The majority remain stored in plaster jackets or locked in shipping containers waiting their turn.

“Today, there are more Australian dinosaurs in this shed than the rest of the world combined,” puffs George, who says his Winton lab also gets the gong for the most productive fossil laboratory in Australia.

“Despite this, we are still looking at a 10-to-15-year backlog of work ahead of us,” he laments. The reason is simple. With a small onsite team and annual dinosaur digs open to the paying public (fun fact: formal qualifications are not needed; you learn on the job), the discovery rates outstrip the ability to recover and prepare materials.

For this reason, the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum is also the only place in the country where natural history buffs can roll up their sleeves and pay to clean 95 million years of soil from an ancient bone. There are one, three, five, and eleven-day programs. That’s hardly a dent in a dinosaur, given a single femur from a sauropod can take months to clean. Patience and a steady hand are equal virtues.

Most travellers to Winton, including the large number of families with kids going through that dinosaur phase, are happy enough to tour the museum and then stroll the Cretaceous path through Dinosaur Canyon. Here, technically perfect, life-sized dinosaur statues add wonder to the impossibly perfect Outback scene.

Visit to plan your experience.

Story by Shelley Winkel
Tourism and Events Queensland

Take the train​

Take the Spirit of the Outback to Longreach with direct RailBus connections available to Winton. Join a day tour to Winton from Longreach or self-drive with car hire and explore Winton.​ Book online now.

​Back to Travel Blog.