The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum

July 20, 2019 at 5:17 pm | Posted in Australia, heritage, History, Nature, Pre-history, The Red Centre | 14 Comments
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Today, we went to the Australian Age of Dinosaur Museum, part of the Dinosaur Trail. Many people do not realise that quite a number of dinosaur fossils have been found in several parts of Australia, with the major area being the plains of Central and Western Queensland. The museum is built on a mesa, about 15 km out of Winton. The driving force behind the establishment of the museum was David Elliott, a local pastoralist who became interested in and started collecting dinosaur fossils. He became the go-to man for any other local who discovered fossils on their property. This link will take you to a site with lots of information on the museum and its beginnings.

 

Banjo the dinosaur re-sized

‘Banjo’ the dinosaur, Australovenator wintonensis at the entry to the museum

 

The whole museum is great. Our $50 each gave entry us to three different experiences. The first was Preparation labs, where fossils are stored, and where volunteers help to release the fragile fossils from their matrix. Anyone can take a 10-day training course at the museum for a fee, and then join the volunteer team. There is a reproduction of the front leg of one of the dinosaurs they’ve found, a sauropod they call Matilda – a huge plant-eater, the largest dinosaur found in Australia. It stands next to the doorway and stands almost 3 metres high!

 

Matilda for size re-sized

‘Matilda’, next to a woman reporter for size

 

 

Dirk & fossil store re-sized

Hubby in the Prep area next to part of the racks of fossils that are waiting to be set free

 

Conservators re-sized

Some of the volunteer conservators working on fossils

 

The next experience was part video & part talk about three of the dinosaurs, and we were able to see the actual fossils that are displayed in a room at the main centre. I can’t show the actual fossils, as the room was quite dark & we couldn’t use flashes on our camera. One of them was ‘Alex’ Diamantinasaurus matildae, a large sauropod somewhat smaller than ‘Matilda’. They have quite a few marine fossils there too, but they came from places farther north where the marine layer is now eroded enough to find them.

The third experience was an electric trolley ride out to the Gorge Outpost, a couple of km from the main centre.

 

Shuttle trolley re-sized

The shuttle trolley we went on

 

There is a walkway next to the gorge with plaques with info on various dinosaurs, and a reproduction of a bog with dinosaur bones on the surface.

 

Billabong fossilsre-sized

Reproduction of a dried swamp with dinosaur bones

 

There were many opportunities to photograph the differences between the “Jump-up”, or mesa, on which the centre was built, and the surrounding flat plains which extend for many kilometres in every direction.

 

The plains re-sized

Looking across to the plains from the mesa

 

Gorge re-sized

Part of the gorge with ghost gums

 

There were also bronze pterosaurs sitting on a rock by their ‘nest’, and the various dinosaurs involved in the stampede that we saw the footprints of yesterday at Lark Quarry. It was all really well done. We were impressed.

 

Dinosaur chasing2 re-sized

The small therapods and ornithopodsdinosaurs flee from the carnivorous Australovenator wintonensis

Dinosaurs being chased re-sized

The gorge itself, whilst small, is beautiful. It clearly shows how the erosion of softer sandstone below gradually undermines the extremely hard ironstone cap on the surface of the mesa. The top eventually cracks and falls away, leaving boulders on the slopes.

 

Undercut re-sized

The hard cap of the mesa being gradually undermined by erosion of the softer stone beneath it

 

Rocks & plains re-sized

Ironstone boulders scattered on the slopes

 

If you love dinosaurs, the dinosaur museum is a great introduction to our Australian natives. In Winton, the Dinosaur Capital of Australia, you will find other sources of information. An especially evocative sight is at the Lark Quarry Dinosaur Stampede, which I will blog about when I get the chance.

 

(c) Linda Visman

Photos by Linda Visman

 

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I came second!

November 12, 2018 at 7:00 am | Posted in Australia, History, Nature, Philosophy, Poetry, Reflections, The Red Centre | 19 Comments
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I recently entered a poem in a writing competition. The competition was the Alice Sinclair Memorial Writing Award, run by the Lake Macquarie branch of the Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW) to which I belong. It was open to all writers throughout Australia.

I was very happy to be told I had gained second place in the Poetry section with my poem, “Tosca – Northern Territory”. It is about a special place in the Red Centre of Australia, where I have camped several times and gone rabbit shooting too. While there, I’d sit at the entry to a shallow cave on top of a rock outcrop, and feel the majesty and vastness of the land. This is where the poem originated, and where I always return when I see the red dust of Australia’s ancient Red Centre.

I received my award on Saturday at the FAW meeting. Here is part of what the judge’s report said:

The poem is “a tightly written, image-rich poem that brings the reader into the moment of perception with visual imagery while also creating a satisfying link to history and tradition”.

Here is my poem. Read it slowly, and see if you can feel the country, its immensity and its beauty.

 

Tosca – Northern Territory

 

Linda Visman

 

Rocky red hillside, broken and rough, lies beneath my feet;

grey-green weeds and shiny, baked mudstone around;

endless, pale blue summer skies above

this overhang in which I can lie but not stand;

 

its pebble-studded roof, blackened by countless Dreamtime fires,

slopes down a body-length inside to a floor

scattered with twigs, leaves and droppings

– wallaby or goanna – or drought-defying rabbits.

 

A perfect lookout this, for those now gone – and for me –

across a sweeping panorama of hard-packed red sand

broken by low-growing stands of grey mulga and gidgee,

spiky domes of spinifex, and shallow gullies

gouged by seasonal downpours.

 

Distant caw of devil-crows mournful on the breeze;

taste of sunburned dust on my tongue,

coarse and dry in my eyes and on my skin,

a red-orange pigment dusting everything with its brand,

burning into every pore and crevice of mind and body.

 

Near the top of this hill in a thirsty landscape,

down between and beneath the sheltering rocks,

lies life – a native well, seeping just enough water

to keep a small band of travellers from perishing of thirst,

 

Or to sustain the miners who extracted turquoise wealth

then left a football-field-sized white talc scar down on the flat.

A tin can, string attached, lies hidden behind a rock

– slake your thirst, then replace it for those to come.

 

The ground that appears devoid of life by day,

at night sparkles everywhere with its own stars

– thousands of spider eyes reflected in the moonlight;

and all around in the cool of evening after day’s dry heat

wafts the pungent smell of the gidgee tree.

 

In this country the spirits of the past remain,

not only in ancient, fossilised trilobites and ferns

trapped within the baked mudstone of long-dried seabeds,

nor the deep diamond-studded night-time vault

where earth and plants, man and animals were born.

 

The Dreaming lives on in every leaf and twig,

every crow and crested pigeon, every spider, ant and lizard;

in the gales and cooling breezes and every drop of rain,

in every rock and every speck of seeping red dust.

 

How fleeting am I in this eternal place, and how tiny in its immensity!

 

(c) Linda Visman, 2018

A to Z Challenge – S is for Snow Angels

April 22, 2015 at 12:05 am | Posted in A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015, Australia, Nature, The Red Centre | 4 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE [2015] - Life is Good

Here is another poem about Central Australia. As you may have guessed, it is a place very close to my heart.

Snow Angels

 

 

Australia’s red and sandy centre

Does not ever see falling snow.

Its winter vastness sees cold, dry frost;

Summer sees heat and, with luck, The Wet.

A place of Dreamtime and Kadaitcha,

Is this land, not of angels.

 

 

Your country* knows winter snows

On craggy mountain, great lakes,

Wide plains and arctic tundra.

You told me about snow angels –

The ones you made as a child –

But I didn’t understand.

 

 

Then one summer, in my Outback land,

The river that mostly runs dry

Ran wild and wide in the Wet.

We went to see it drying, you and I,

And in deep, still flood-damp sand

You lay down, arms and legs outspread.

 

 

You moved them together in rhythm

Arms up and down; legs open and closed.

I wondered, what is this you do?

Then you carefully stood and I saw

A lovely angel, winged and gowned.

So I lay down and made one too.

White snow angels fly now in red sand.

(c) Linda Visman

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