Room Check: Famous North Gregory Hotel, Winton, Queensland

Elisabeth Easther checks into the Famous North Gregory Hotel, Winton, Queensland.
Stepping inside the doors of Winton's Famous North Gregory Hotel is like stepping back in time.
Stepping inside the doors of Winton's Famous North Gregory Hotel is like stepping back in time.

How to get there: Deep in the Australian Outback, many people drive to Winton. Some enjoy the Spirit of the Outback rail experience, while others fly in on the two flights that arrive each week. (Although the airport is 5km from town and there is no taxi service in Winton so be sure to arrange a pick up with the hotel.)

Be warned: Winton takes a bit of getting to, but that's not a bad thing, merely a challenge.

Check-in experience: Stepping inside the doors of the Famous North Gregory Hotel (est 1879) is like stepping back in time to a world of art deco Hollywood-style glamour, complete with sweeping staircase. Winton is quite a quirky town, and this hotel fits in so well.

The room: My spacious room had access to an outside verandah, and contained a decent-sized double bed as well as a single. And because the hotel isn't shaped like a box, the rooms aren't all carbon copies of each other - makes a nice change from the more sterile hotels one often encounters.

Who runs it: Proprietors Andrew and wife Krishna are a hospo couple who have recently returned from two years in the South Pacific.

Also on site: The hotel also has a laundromat, private cinema, a hairdresser and a TAB.

Old bones: Winton is the Dinosaur Capital of the Southern Hemisphere - what's not to like about that?

What's in the neighbourhood: This sleepy little one horse town (pop. 900) is the home of the Waltzing Matilda Centre (where the story of Banjo Paterson is told), a classic Aussie pub, the Royal Open Air Theatre, the Musical Fence installation (made famous by international recording artist Gotye) and it's also where you can see the world's largest opal - a Winton Boulder Opal. For such a small town, there's a lot going on.

Voters' choice: Following the mayoral election a couple of terms ago, the two top contenders tied, so they flipped a coin to decide who was the winner and were happy to accept the outcome.

Toiletries: Ritual brand hotel stuff, perfectly dandy.

Food and drink: The Daphne Mayo Dining Room is open every day for dinner and I can attest to its excellent food. The Musical Fence Cafe serves breakfast and lunch every day, while the Horseshoe Bar and Banjo's Beer Garden serve refreshments, counter lunches and dinners, seven days a week.

Minibar: Milk, tea, coffee, and little cookies, I'm a big fan of little cookies

Bathroom: The bathroom consisted of a shower and loo as you'd expect, although the water here has a funny odour, a sulphury smell that we were told of at check-in. It wasn't a problem, but you'll notice it.

Noise: Even with a rugby game on the tele that night, the noise level was negligible and it's the kind of place where the local cop, who is a Kiwi, can feel comfortable wearing his All Black jersey

Value for money: Aside from being the best hotel in town, it's also great value with rooms ranging in price from A$60 and going all the way up to A$140. Plus there are 15 unpowered caravan sites.

What's more: Waltzing Matilda had its first public performance at the North Gregory Hotel. The first Board Meeting of Qantas was held in Winton, with locals saying Qantas was conceived in Winton and born in Longreach, creating a bit of friction between the two towns.


Perfect for: As the only fully air-conditioned hotel in town, it's perfect for chilling out, experiencing the Australian Outback and walking with dinosaurs.

- NZ Herald

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