23 May, 2021
A stampede in Winton
The new exhibit at the Age of Dinosaurs has been a hit.
THE Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum in Winton expanded earlier this month, with the official opening of two new exhibits.
The March of the Titanosaurs exhibition and The Gondwana Star Observatory were opened after the Queensland Government delivered $4.9 million dollars for the additions to the museum.
The March of the Titanosaurs exhibition houses a 54-metre prehistoric trackway that was discovered on a property in Winton in 2018.
The track site was made when herds of sauropods roamed Western Queensland millions of years ago when the landscape was covered in temperate rainforests and muddy billabongs.
The preserved tracks showcase the diverse ecosystem of prehistoric life that existed 94 million years ago, with tracks of pterosaurs, lungfish, small mammals, turtles, crocodiles, ornithopods, and tiny theropods.
The Gondwana Star Observatory is Australia’s first International Dark Sky Sanctuary that will allow visitors to immerse themselves within the stars.
The observatory will open publicly later in the year, with high-powered telescopes that will become one of the best places in the country to witness the wonders of the outback night sky.
Executive Chairman of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs, David Elliott said the museum first started on his property nearly 20 years ago and they plan to continue expanding.
“We need that point of difference, something that’s just going to inspire people and I think that is what this museum is,” said Mr Elliott.
“We started with a shed in stage one, then we built a dinosaur canyon and now we have two more additions, that not only (better) the museum but also bring in more tourism to Western Queensland.
“We wanted something that was unique to Australia, and unique to the world, something where people from all over the world can look at it and say that’s the Australian Age of Dinosaurs in Winton, Western Queensland, Australia.
“Months and months of render work went into the observatory to create that ‘crater look,’ also the people who moved the dinosaur creek, worked on that for three years and moved every single piece.
“Before the building was here, they worked under the hot sun placing the creek bed piece by piece,” said Mr Elliott.
The collection manager for the Australian Age of Dinosaurs, Trish Sloan, said there was lots and lots to learn and experience at the museum.
“The March of the Titanosaurs exhibition showcases a snapshot in time 95 million years ago of animals just enjoying life.
“It has taken three years to complete, since April 2018 is when we uncovered the snake creek trackways.
“When you look at it, it is showing life, its showing motion, and behavior and it is a whole new level of experience as it helps paint that picture, on what it would have been like 95 million years ago,” said Ms Sloan.
Last year more than 827,000 visitors took in an outback road trip experience, contributing around $467 million to Outback Queensland’s COVID-19 economic recovery.
An extra 7,000 tourists are expected to visit the museum every year with an expenditure of $1.7 million dollars expected to hit the local economy annually.
Director of CultivAR Architecture Casey Vallance said they wanted the buildings to be a response to landscape.
“When we first had the opportunity to come and walk the land out here, the way that David took us through the landscape and the fishers of the rocks, from the plateau down to the plain, was through the cracks in the rocks and so the buildings were wanting to respond as a land formation, folding up through a rock formation so that you actually get an experience of walking through an architectural fisher responding to the landscape.
“It is very exciting as the architecture we are creating here allows the public to come and experience both the architecture as a response to the landscape but also to be able to come in and see the stunning landscape.
“In a way that a lot of people wouldn't be able to naturally experience without a facility of this nature in here.
“The idea of the ‘crater’ like observatory originally came when David Elliot found a meteorite on a property in this region.
“The black and the formation represents the meteorite as it moved through the atmosphere, we were able to sort of model that and turn it into a land formation.
“It is exciting to have both the dinosaur footprints here but also the observatory and people are able to come and observe the glory of the universe beyond,” said Mr Vallance.
The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum is located 24km south-east of Winton and is home to the largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils in the world.
The Museum is split between four facilities, the Fossil Preparation Laboratory, Collection Room, Dinosaur Canyon, and the March of The Titanosaurs exhibition.
The Museum is open 7 days per week from Monday to Sunday, 8.30am to 5pm.
Tour bookings are essential, for more information head to their website www.australianageofdinosaurs.com