WEDNESDAY 24 MAY WINTON
We rattled around in the morning, making phone calls and paying rates, water rates, phone bill, by phone.
We did a big fruit and veg shop, as this was the day the produce arrived fresh in town. I even managed to get grapefruit, often not available in these places, but it was all rather expensive.
After the shopping was put away, set out to drive to Lark Quarry, some 110 kms down the Jundah road, to the south west. This was mostly unsealed, but in pretty good condition.
We drove through varied country that was very interesting. There were some dramatic jump ups and valleys. We got a fright, when an emu shot out of bushes beside the road, and raced right in front of Truck, with its neck stretched right out – as if that would make it faster! Emu just made it. I am not sure who got the biggest fright.
I had read a little about Lark Quarry in tourist information and really wanted to visit it, as something “different”. It was much more impressive, though, than I had anticipated.
Lark Quarry was the site of a dinosaur stampede, something not known of anywhere else. It was nearly 100 million years ago, when this country was vastly different, we were still joined to Antarctica, and all sorts of dinosaurs roamed around. It is believed that a lot of small dinosaurs, ranging from chicken to emu size, had come to drink and/or forage, by a lake. The mud at the edge of the lake was very soft, so their footprints sank into it. Then a big, carnivorous Tyrannosaurus came hunting them, and the little ones stampeded. The footprints filled with soft sediments and the mud turned to mudstone. Later, more recent erosion, exposed some dinosaur tracks and then the “quarry” was excavated in the 1970’s, to reveal the full stampede.
A roof had been built over the prints, and a mesh walled walkway allowed us to view the prints without being able to destroy them. It was pleasing to see these efforts at preservation, although there was no-one there to keep an eye on them, and we were alone there. (We heard later that there was a caretaker, but he had died out there a day or two before our visit).
Just looking at the footprints, we could sense the panic of the little dinosaurs, as they tried to escape the monster.
It was also a great lesson in how the climate and topography has changed over time. Back in the stampede times, this area had river and lakes and plenty of vegetation to feed scores of little plant eating dinosaurs. This sedimentary layer that was well buried under semi-arid rocky hills and outcrops was once a muddy sand bar in a lake surrounded by forest.
We went for a walk up to a lookout from where we could see other areas of excavation. Then we completed the nature walk. I found the area really attractive.
We saw some beautifully marked small dragon lizards. They moved extremely fast, then sat up on rocks to watch us and see what was happening. Cute little critters.
We ate our packed lunch at Lark Quarry.
Judging from what we saw in the Visitors Book we signed, not many people make the trip out here on the unsealed road.
Cloud was building up between sunny breaks, and the humidity increased through the day.
On the way back, detoured off the Jundah road into Bladensburg National Park, as far as the Engine Hole Waterhole. This was really pretty, with a lot of bird life around. We saw a rufous song lark, for the first time. It was too late to explore the Park – which was a pastoral property until recently – any further, and we returned to Winton. Drove 264kms today.
Made radio contact with Alice Springs Base of the 4WD Radio Network, let them know where we were and gave a rough outline of our plans. The duty man said that the road into Lawn Hill from Gregory Downs was rough. We were planning after the time around here, to make our way to Cloncurry and then on there.
Phoned K to let him know our plans.
Tonight was the last TV for a while!
It was an extremely humid and warm night.