Here’s An Aussie Travel Guide For Seeing Real-Deal Dinosaur Stuff In The Wild

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Richard Hunter lies next to a 1.7m dinosaur footprint belonging to a sauropod. (Supplied: Steve Salisbury)

Attention dino nerds: I’ve thrown together an Australian dinosaur travel guide, you’re welcome. Why? My sister is one of you, so you can thank her. Actually let’s just make that a science buff, seeing as the girl has a favourite constellation. As in an actual star formation, I kid you not.

I found that out on the same family trip I took last year through America that also saw us heading through the Arizona desert to Tuba City to walk in some dinosaur footprints. Yes, actually walk. Terrible for conservation sure, but hey, if everyone else gets to do it (yes I know, very bad, no good attitude, I’m SORRY).

The experience of seeing actual, indisputable remains from these giant creatures from the planet’s past was surreal, even for me, someone who doesn’t really care for them beyond Jurassic Park. If a road trip through the U.S.A. isn’t quite on the agenda right now, the good news is you can get all your dino nerd needs on our fair shores.

With no further ado, if you’re hunkering for a dino adventure, here’s the Aussie Dinosaur Travel Guide you never knew you needed:

Lark Quarry

A casual 95 million years ago, this now very dry part of Queensland was a huge river, obviously a place that dinosaurs fancied a little drink. Which explains why there would be so many footprints now spread out along the ground there. Well, almost explains it.

They now call it the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument, a name they attribute to, you guessed it, the stry of a stampede the footprints tell. Apparently, at least 150 different dinos were doing their thing by the water when they got rudely interupted by a T. rex who realised it was a great oppoutunity for a snack. Bada bing, bada boom, everyone flees and leaves the chaos of footprints in the mud that’s been fossilized today.

The Broome Sandstone

Up the southern end of Cable Beach Broome conceals a bunch of 140 million year old dinosaur footprints impressed deeply into the sandstone. They were originally discovered in 1945 by Walter Jones ‘at extreme low spring tide’ near the Point Gantheaume Lighthouse. The sandstone was of course just sand back then, making it the perfect mould for the heavy imprints of dino feet.

The Western Australian Naturalists Club report that after conducting further research himself, Director of the WA Museum Ludwig Glauert discovered more footprints and even managed to find what he belives is “a cast interpreted as a cow-sized young sauropod rolling on its back in soft sand“. Aka, a baby dino having a big play in the sand like a good boy.

Milanesia Beach And Dinosaur Cove

In Victoria we have a fun combination of bones and footprints. In fact, this is where the first confirmed dinosaur bones in Australia were found, back in 1903 by geologist William Hamilton Ferguson. Almost a century later peeps from the National Museum of Victoria returned to the site to excavate the bones, a search that was furthered by palaeontologist Dr Thomas Richwhen he noticed similar formations nearby.

In 2011, he and his American colleague Anthony Martin also discovered a dino footprint cluster about 10 km from the cove on Milanesia Beach.  The discovery brought the state of Victoria’s number of dinosaur footprints from 4 to, well at least another 24 confirmed tracks, each about 105 million years old. You can read more about the discovery on Anthony’s blog, The Great Cretaceous Walk.

National Dinosaur Museum

It ain’t footprints, but it IS a museum dedicated entirely to our past dino friends in our nation’s capital so it made the list. They have 23 full dinosaur skeletons and over 300 fossils on display, so there’s still clearly a lot of real-life evidence of this big ol’ creatures. They have guided tours and workshops too so you can get amongst it.