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Dinosaurs are ruling Central West Queensland… again

24 Feb 2023

The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History is a prominent science-based not-for-profit museum and multi-award-winning tourist attraction in Central West Queensland.

The Museum includes the most productive Fossil Preparation Laboratory in the Southern Hemisphere, the Reception Centre and Collection Room, Dinosaur Canyon (featuring life-sized bronze dinosaur dioramas), the March of the Titanosaurs exhibition (housing Australia’s best-preserved sauropod tracksite), and the Gondwana Stars Observatory. The Museum also offers a range of programs including Prep-A-Dino, Dig-A-Dino, virtual excursions and onsite school lessons.

Their valuable contribution to our state’s tourism industry is the reason they walked away with silver at the 2022 Queensland Tourism Awards under the Major Tourist Attractions category. We caught up with the team to get the lowdown on where they’re at now and where they aim to be in 2023.

What progress or major milestone are you most proud of?

In 2021/2022 the Museum achieved incredibly high visitation and proved that there is domestic demand for unique and transformative experiences in Outback Queensland. By identifying resilience-planning strategies and implementing developments that would ensure long-term business endurance, the Museum was able to quickly adapt to disruptions.

Some of the innovations we are most proud of include:

  • Gondwana Stars Observatory tours – immersive naked-eye viewing tours with telescope-viewing opportunities at the end of each experience. Our astronomy guides use handheld lasers to explain the evolution of the night sky by linking the events on Earth to the extraordinary dark skies above, delving into time and space and our collective understanding and search for our place within it.
  • Virtual excursions – a virtual-excursion building and six lessons were introduced in 2021/2022 and includes links to the Australian, Victorian and New South Wales curriculum for primary and high school-aged children, extension activities and experiments.
  • Laboratory refurbishment – completed in January 2022, the additional inside space has extended the fossil preparation area to accommodate an additional three volunteer preparators to work on the Museum's back log of fossils. This is already bringing outstanding benefits to the Museum in the form of additional fossils prepared for display and scientific research. By extending the width of the Laboratory, an additional 270 square metres of storage space was created outside the building. Nine insulated shipping containers were moved into the space and now hold fossil specimens that were previously stored offsite. The refurbished Laboratory exhibition includes wall partitions, display cabinetry for fossil specimens, interpretive signage and a mural.
  • Accessibility – in November 2021 a Visual Story was developed, in partnership with Aspect Australia, to assist those with autism or sensory sensitivities to plan their visit to the Museum. The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Visual Story is a 27-page guide on how to access the Museum's buildings, what to expect upon arrival and where to go for help when visiting. The Museum worked through the criteria and written questionnaires to be awarded the Australian Tourism Industry Council Accessibility certification in Mobility (Limited) and Mobility (Wheelchair).

What kind of support has the department provided and how has it impacted your business?

The department has supported the vision, purpose and objectives of the Museum. This has included supporting large-scale infrastructure projects such as the Dynamic Destination project and smaller projects focused on improving visitor experiences, and developing the future needs of the Museum such as the Create, Captivate and Consolidate project.

By supporting the Museum and other tourism organisations in Outback Queensland, the department is kick-starting regional sustainability, providing flow-on effects to regional businesses and instigating the growth required for western Queensland to be international-tourism ready. The department has also enabled the Museum to captivate visitors, drive demand for Queensland tourism, attract new markets and inspire generations of visitors to Queensland.

What’s on the horizon for the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History in 2023?

In 2023 the Museum is planning to continue to create unique, authentic and transformative experiences in Outback Queensland. These experiences include the Prep-A-Dino and Dig-A-Dino programs, onsite education programs, state-of-the-art virtual excursions to students around the world, scientific research partnerships with universities and guided tours. The abiding goal of the Museum is to create an inclusive and sustainable attraction in the heart of the Outback. In 2023 the Museum will also be planning the Museum’s final stage, the Museum of Natural History.

Any final words?

The Queensland Tourism Awards provided the Museum with an opportunity to take stock of our accomplishments and celebrate our achievements. The event is also an invaluable benchmarking tool for all organisations in the tourism community.

We are so proud to represent Outback Queensland and the passion, drive and tenacity of the people that live and work in this remarkable part of the world.

Find out more about the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History.

Check out all the winners from the 2022 Queensland Tourism Awards.