Once upon a time, when dinosaurs roamed the land, Outback Queensland resembled a landscape of temperate forest unlike the dusty plains we see today. Fast forward 95 million years and scientists are slowly (and literally) piecing together the bones of Outback Queensland’s history.
With a dinosaur trail at its heart, along with exciting discoveries found in the north and south-west regions, here’s how we recommend taking a paleo tour of Outback Queensland.
Become mates with ‘Krono’ the Kronosaurus queenslandicus and ‘Penny the Plesiosaur’ at Kronosaurus Korner Museum in Richmond. Back when these two dinos lived you would have been standing in an inland sea, although the red dirt covering the town today makes it hard to believe.
This incredible marine fossil museum also showcases nearly 1,150 unique fossil specimens from the Richmond area, including 155-million-year-old extinct marine reptiles, fish, ammonites and squid that once lived in Australia’s ancient inland sea.
You can see palaeontology in action and witness fossils being prepared in real-time through glass windows into the preparation laboratory or become a palaeontologist for the day at their free fossicking site.
If you’re keen to see the site of ancient hunter and prey interaction you won’t want to miss Lark Quarry Conservation Park. Here you can walk through the fossil remains of a dinosaur stampede that tells the story of a carnivorous theropod stalking over 150 terrified chicken-sized coelurosaurs and emu-sized ornithopods.
Shiver with Jurassic Park levels of spine-chilling eeriness as you examine the 3,300 giant stone footprints left behind by the scattering dinos. This extraordinary piece of Australian dinosaur history is located just 115km south-west of Winton.
Visit the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum which houses the world’s largest Australian dinosaur fossil collection. The Museum tours will take you and your dino-loving kids on a journey through time to explore where and how dinosaur bones are found and what’s involved in digging them up. Don’t miss the Ultimate Dinosaur Tour which includes a guided tour of the Collection Room, Fossil Preparation Laboratory, the march of the Titanosaurs exhibition and a self-guided walk of Dinosaur Canyon.
No trip is complete without a wander through the Collection Room to meet ‘Banjo’ and ‘Matilda’, two of Australia’s most complete dinosaur skeletons.
New on the scene is the March of the Titanosaurs exhibition where you can view Australia’s best preserved dinosaur footprint track in airconditioned comfort. For a walk on the wild side, trek through Dinosaur Canyon where over 40 life-like dinosaur replicas, including two new four-metre-high bronze sauropods, can be spotted in their natural habitat.
The museum is also home to Australia’s first International Dark-Sky Sanctuary and giant-meteorite-shaped, open top Gondwana Stars Observatory, said to be one of the country’s best places to view the night sky.
Meet ‘Cooper’, a Titanosaur and Australia’s largest dinosaur (aged 95 to 98 million years old) at the Eromanga Natural History Museum in the south-west pocket of Outback Queensland (accessed via the Natural Sciences Loop).
Not only does the museum collect dinosaurs, it’s also home to some of the world’s largest megafauna and a variety of microfauna thought to be between 50,000 to 100,000 years old. Get hands-on at the Eromanga Natural History Museum as you discover dinosaurs by visiting a dinosaur or megafauna dig site or learn how to prepare ancient fossils. The new museum building, shop and café opened in 2021, and accommodation is available on-site too.
You’ll be yelling Crikey! at the Outer Barcoo Interpretation Centre in Isisford (about an hour south of Longreach), with its life-sized replica model of an Isisfordia duncani. This old girl won’t bite but being the evolutionary ancestor of the crocodile, you can imagine she had a fearsome bite 98 million years ago.
If you’re not croc crazy, take a look at the 100-million-year-old Bulldog Fish and the displays of local fauna, flora, reptiles, birds and fossils from the region.
A trip to Hughenden isn’t complete without visiting its most famous local, ‘Hughie’, a seven-metre-high skeletal Muttaburrasaurus replica cast from the bones of a 110-million-year-old dinosaur found in the Hughenden region.
You’ll find him at the Flinders Discovery Centre and Museum, where you can also explore impressive international fossil collections, interactive displays and Australian dino bones found in the area from 1865 to the present day.
Hughenden is one third of Australia’s Dinosaur Trail of Outback Queensland, together with Richmond and Winton, so you can fill your entire weekend – or longer – with these prehistoric giants.
Just north of Mount Isa, you can head straight to where nature and history come together – the World Heritage-listed Riversleigh fossil deposit.
Found in the southern part of Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park, the Riversleigh section covers 10,000 hectares, however only a small part (Site D) is open to the public. Plan your trip around the annual fossil dig each July for an extra special encounter. Preserved in limestone, some fossils date back 15 to 25 million years, providing insight into mammal evolution. Discover the ancestors of our native wildlife, from the largest freshwater crocodile to feather-tailed possums and kangaroos with sharp teeth.
Of course, if you can’t make it to the fossil fields, a visit to Mount Isa’s Riversleigh Fossil Centre is the next best thing, saving you the drive to get there.
While the ancient inland Eromanga Sea dried up long ago, the Stone House on Pituri Street in Boulia nods to its bones, literally, with a collection of marine reptile fossils on display. Delve deep into the Cretaceous Era, learning about the environment and discovering some interesting facts about these fascinating marine creatures.
Muttaburra’s greatest claim to fame is the unearthing of a fossilised dinosaur skeleton by local grazier Doug Langdon. The Muttaburrasaurus langdoni was a land living, plant eating dinosaur that roamed the earth 100 million years ago. The discovery was the first of its kind in Australia and is celebrated with an impressive statue located in the new Muttaburrasaurus Interpretation Centre in Muttaburra. Don’t forget to have your photo taken in front of this Queensland monument!
Have you had a dino encounter in Outback Queensland? What did you see?
If you haven’t had a dinosaur experience, make sure to add this to your outback holiday to-do list!