Cawnpore Lookout

via Middleton
S 22’38.301, E 141’09.911

Cawnpore Lookout and the Lilleyvale Hills did not always stand so proudly on the horizon, and nor where the surrounding hues so brilliant and warm. Before this arid, dramatic landscape you see today, another world existed here.

Approximately 90 – 95 million years ago rivers and lakes abundant with wildlife filled inland Australia. Fossil birds, platypus, frogs and snakes lived here. Weathering of the landscape created erosion, the more resistant rocks were left behind creating steep escarpments.

The collision of the Australian Plate with the southwestern part of the Pacific Plate created the New Guinea highlands. This is believed to have caused a ‘rain shadow’ effect which drastically changed weather patterns in Australia, and dried out the landscape to what we see today.

How are Mesas formed?
Mesas are formed by weathering and erosion. While some rocks can withstand weathering, weaker types of rocks will erode away, leaving the more resistant rocks higher than their surroundings. This process is called ‘differential erosion’. The most resistant rock types include sandstone, conglomerate, quartzite, chert, limestone, lava flows and sills. Lava flows and sills, in particular, are very resistant to weathering and erosion, and often form the flat top, or caprock, of a mesa. The less resistant rock layers consist of softer rocks such as shale, that weathers more easily.

How can I experience this amazing landscape?

Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum:
Located on the top of a glorious mesa and overlooking the Winton region is the incredible Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum. The fantastic collection of fossils offer an incredible link to the region’s prehistoric past.

Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackways:
Amidst this stunning landscape of red plains and jumpups, discover the trackways of the world’s only recorded dinosaur stampede. These prints have remained frozen in time for about 95 million years.

For more information
Visit the Australian Age of Dinosaurs website (Phone: 07 4657 0414). For more information about activities in Winton head to the Waltzing Matilda Centre (Phone: 1300 665 115).


Heading West
Set against a backdrop of red earth and wide, blue sky, Boulia is one of Australia’s unforgettable Outback locations. The community is welcoming and the landscape awe inspiring in its sheer vastness. Head straight to the Stonehouse Museum and see the extensive collection of marine reptile fossils on display, and learn about Australia’s inland sea. Then visit the Min Min Encounter, if you dare, and decide for yourself if these eerie lights are a result of geological forces or something more sinister.Your next geo-stop, heading west:
Stone House Museum
Heading East
Longreach is home to the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, and Starlight’s Lookout, the jumpup used in the infamous cattle heist. Soak in the warm mineral waters of the Great Artesian Basin at Ilfracombe; and pass Blackall, where the Drummond Basin supports a prosperous coal mining industry.Your next geo-stop, heading east:
Starlight’s Lookout, Longreach