The opening of the first stage of the Eromanga Natural History Museum 12 months ago helped the facility and Quilpie County record a record tourist season last year.
Museum director Robyn Mackenzie, speaking at the official opening last week, said the first stage of the museum’s construction had given the hinterland a beautiful set-up.
“COVID has delayed our recognitions, but to have this construction project to continue and create new jobs in our area during the pandemic has been fantastic,” she said.
One of the largest tourism investments in outback Queensland, the first stage of the state-of-the-art facility includes a reception area, cafe, viewing galleries, performance hall and viewing galleries .
READ ALL ABOUT IT: Eromanga paleotourism journey takes big step forward
Worth $8.6 million, the space which showcases the paleontology of south-west Queensland was funded by the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund and the Building Our Regions Fund and the Growing Tourism Infrastructure Fund of the Queensland Government.
Outback Gondwana Foundation Ltd and Quilpie Shire Council have partnered to raise these funds.
Since opening without fanfare last March, the complex has offered educational museum tours, paleontology training and last June hosted the globally significant announcement of a new dinosaur species and the largest dinosaur ever discovered. in Australia, Australotitan Cooperensis – known as ‘Cooper’.
Karen Grimm, tourism and economic development manager for Quilpie Shire Council, said it had been thrilling to see first-hand the Eromanga Natural History Museum come to life.
“This is the largest infrastructure build to date that Quilpie Shire Council has been involved in, and the museum and recognition of Cooper has been a huge tourism driver for our area.
“We are excited about what lies ahead with this recognition event also marking the opening of our peak tourist season – we are anticipating another boom with huge numbers of visitors.
“And that will no doubt continue to grow in the years to come as the museum continues to evolve and take on the next stages of construction.”
Home to a national treasure
Ms Mackenzie said they hoped it wouldn’t be too long until they could secure the funds to showcase their full-size Cooper replica.
“This gigantic dinosaur will be the true heart of our museum,” she said.
“Cooper has been buried in black clay not far from our museum for millions of years.
“As the largest dinosaur ever discovered in Australia, it’s a national treasure – and we can’t wait to give it a home.”
She said Cooper’s scale dinosaur skeletons were the cornerstone of natural history museums around the world, and nothing would surpass the impact of having the life-size replica seen alongside the real bones.
When ENHM is able to assemble Cooper’s skeleton replica, it is expected to be around 30 meters tall, which puts it in the same league as some of South America’s giant dinosaurs and renowned replica skeletons. world such as “Dippy” the diplodocus at the London Natural History Museum.
“Our vision is to create an exhibition area that gives visitors to our museum the opportunity to interact with it and really appreciate how huge it was,” Ms Mackenzie said.
“We have architectural designs, a complete work plan and are ready to start work.
“We just need the most funding to build Cooper his final home.”
The organization hopes the final leg of the journey that began more than 90 million years ago will be ready in time for international visitors to the 2032 Olympics to experience it.
Dr Scott Hocknull, senior curator at the Geosciences Australia Museum, said the Eromanga collection represents central Australia’s largest regional collection of fossils, including type and significant dinosaur specimens.
“In terms of diversity and geochronological age range, the ENHM collection includes vertebrate, invertebrate and plant fossils from the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras, and is home to the type specimen of Australia’s largest dinosaur species” , did he declare.
The collection also contains several new dinosaur skeletons of international significance, including one of Australia’s most complete known sauropods.
The collection of megafauna fossils has some of the best preserved specimens of Diprotodon optatumthe world’s largest marsupial and the most diverse collection of mud spring and mound spring vertebrate fossils in the country.
The collections held at the ENHM represent key points from past geological and climatic periods of national significance.
“The combination of these new collections of sites and specimens unique to the ENHM collection elevates this collection to international significance,” said Dr Hocknull.
“Significance will increase due to the fact that this region is a new frontier of discovery that has specific impact on our understanding of the global diversity and paleobiogeography of Cretaceous dinosaurs and Neogene fauna, as well as the determination of their responses to past climate change.”
Special guests at the recognition event last week were able to view the architectural designs of the yet-to-be-funded phases of the museum.
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