DINOSAURS have been around in Queensland for a long time. Of course I speak of fossils, not real life (unless speaking of some of my contemporaries) and the area around Winton has become quite famous, worldwide, for its splendid Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History.
Now there's a new kid on the block in the form of Cooper, identified as a Titanosaur discovered in 2004 on a property near Eromanga further south. This is the largest dinosaur fossil find so far in Australia, with a humerus 1.5 metres in length and weighing over 100kg, a new species in the world. Since then, George, Zac and Sid have joined Eromanga's growing dino family. Other large creatures have also been found near Eulo and identified as Megasaurs.
Understandably, palaeontologists are very excited by these new discoveries and the Outback Gondwana Foundation together with the Queensland Museum has just opened a brand new Natural History Museum in Eromanga (ENHM) to display these amazing fossils and run educational programs for tourists, school groups and scientists.
It's a well-curated exhibition managed by Robyn Mackenzie, owner of the property where Cooper was found by her 14-year-old son Sandy. He thought it looked "different" to the usual cattle bones and from there the story led to the Queensland Museum experts, culminating in over 80 digs and the new Eromanga facility. Robyn herself has become quite an expert and a devotee of palaeontology.
Eromanga is a very small town more known for its extensive opal mining and more lately, oil drilling producing around 1.5 million barrels a year. But the fossil finds, and the older Living History Museum with its superb memorabilia have put the town firmly on the tourism map.
A visit to Eromanga would not be complete without lunch or dinner at the Royal Hotel where you're likely to meet such characters as Giggles, an opal miner for many years and a teller of tall tales. You may even persuade him to take you out to his tenement to do a bit of fossicking.
Brisbane to Quilpie 954km by road, or by Rex Airlines via Wellcamp and Charleville twice weekly. The flight continues on to Windorah and Birdsville, then Bedourie, Boulia and Mt Isa.
The Heritage Hotel, Quilpie