When Dinosaurs Roamed the Australian Outback
27 February 2007
When Dinosaurs Roamed the Australian Outback
David Elliot has had a passion for pre-historic history for as long as he can remember and this spurred his interest in dinosaurs and his career as an amateur paleontologist in Australia’s Outback.
David Elliot, of Australian Age of Dinosaurs in Winton, Queensland, considers himself an amateur paleontologist (a person involved with the study of past geological periods and fossils) after discovering his first piece of dinosaur bone on his farm in Queensland’s Outback in 1985.
“I found a small piece of dinosaur bone 22 years ago which took pride of place in my cabinet at home for years. Ten years later I found the shoulder bone of a small sauropod which lead to the discovery of the thigh bone of “Elliot,” Australia’s largest dinosaur discovery, this was a real turning point in my life.
“I feel fortunate to be given the opportunity to make a difference in my own community and for Australia and even the world. I enjoy being able to share my experiences and discoveries with visitors and I consider it an honour and a privilege to do what I do in this amazing country,” says Elliot.
Vito Anzelmi, Regional Manager for Tourism Australia, New Zealand says that dinosaur discovery adventures in Australia are fascinating and exciting for visitors of all ages.
“New Zealanders have always had a fascination with the Outback and increasingly with the Dinosaur Trail in Queensland with approximately 250 New Zealanders visiting the trail a year. In 2005, two Kiwis participated in a dig and discovery trip, which only happen once a year for a limited number of people. For Kiwis who enjoyed Jurassic Park, this is a great opportunity to learn more about the pre-historic world and about the amazing creatures that used to roam the land.
“These types of expeditions are becoming increasingly popular as a holiday experience with a difference, and especially convenient for New Zealanders being so close to Australia’s dinosaur region,” says Anzelmi.
The Australian Age of Dinosaurs (AAOD) was formed by Elliot in 2002 in response to a number of exciting dinosaur discoveries in the Winton district. It has grown to include a field laboratory, a dinosaur dig experience, a museum display and an annual fossil and discovery journal which is distributed throughout Australia.
“People are able to visit our lab and work on the preparation of huge dinosaur bones. There is also the dinosaur dig and bone prepping holiday experience each year that is a fully catered for week long holiday.
“Anyone over the age of 18 can experience a dig. We’ve even had a participant who celebrated her 80th birthday on an expedition and many public figures and politicians have also tried their hand at excavations. People who come on a dig often find it hard to leave as they find the overall experience so rewarding.
“Digging and discoveries are absolutely awe-inspiring, especially in this spectacular Outback landscape. I love the Outback with a passion, the broad open horizons, the stark beauty of the rolling western plains and the isolation of the inland makes it an incredible and inspiring place,” says Elliot
Elliot is a sheep farmer by trade, owning land in the Outback which has been in his family for years, however dinosaurs are his passion and he is determined to see that they are preserved and made available for all to see.
“The AAOD Museum is built on a beautiful landscape only 22 kilometres from Winton. The area is over 300 acres and is a wonderful, ecologically diverse area in Australia’s natural heritage. Wildlife and nature are an essential part of this country’s beauty and the Outback.
“Visiting the AAOD Museum display not only gives visitors a chance to explore and enjoy the region’s beauty, but it is also full of comprehensive dinosaur fossils, and is the largest in Australia. This is an ongoing project and we are continually growing and are in the process of building the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History, which will include a large range of activities and attractions for all ages,” says Elliot.
The Australian Age of Dinosaurs is only part of the role David Elliot plays in Australian pre-historic history, he is also on the board of Australia’s Dinosaur Trail (ADT) which is a self drive circuit that incorporates a combination of major dinosaur attractions in this region.
“Australia’s Dinosaur Trail runs through Winton, Hughenden and Richmond Shires in Western Queensland. Attractions include the Lark Quarry Dinosaur National Monument, which is the only evidence of stampeding dinosaurs in the world, Flinders Discovery Centre and Kronosaurus Korner in Richmond,” says Elliot.
There are many tours that visitors can do to explore Australia’s Dinosaur Trail, however there is also the option of hiring a four-wheel-driving and following the trail independently, allowing visitors to take their time in this unique land.
“To really see and experience the district visitors should allow at least a week. There are many other natural attractions in the area such as the Bladensburg National Park and the Porcupine Gorge which add to the interest of this region.
“I recommend visitors bring a sense of humour on their journey as Winton is a friendly place with cheerful locals who enjoy travellers exploring their local region. This is my home, I belong here and I love what I do,” says Elliot.
Australian Dinosaur attractions or dinosaur sites in
Gantheaume Point, Broome, Western Australia
National Dinosaur Museum, Nicholls, ACT
Dinosaur Cove, Cape Otway, Victoria
Andamooka opal field, South Australia