Once upon a time Australia had a massive inland sea. Cruising its waters was a truly astonishing number of marine dinosaurs, some of which are visually familiar – like turtles, fish and sharks – some of which are like nothing else alive today. The biggest beast of this sea was the Kronosaurus, which lends its name to the Kronosaurus Korner Museum, at Richmond. This Kronosaurus (Kronosaurus queenslandicus) was a dominate predator that measured between 10-11 metres in length (about the size of a bus), weighed in at 11 metric ton and had a bite force twice that of a large saltwater crocodile, and you can view its fossils at the museum that bears its name. In fact, the Kronosaurus Korner Museum is home to the largest collection of Australia’s marine dinosaurs fossils, with over 1,000 specimens in its collection. During a self-guided tour you can view the fossils, see replica statues and enjoy an audio-visual presentation that brings these beasts to life. You can also try ‘digging at dawn’ a guided experience, where you can try to find your own fossil.
Behold the mighty Kronosaurus queenslandicus at Kronosaurus Korner Museum. This to-scale statue provides perspective on the size of this mighty beast, which could easily have taken our son in one swallow. Definitely puts Jaws to shame and I’m pretty happy they aren’t around anymore.
It’s fitting that the largest collection of Australia’s marine dinosaur fossils are on display, exactly where they were found. Today, Richmond is around 500km from the closest coastal city, which is Townsville, but over 110 million years ago it was a thriving marine landscape. A vast inland sea – the Eromanga Sea – ran right down the middle of what is now Queensland, including parts of New South Wales and South Australia. This shallow sea was home to a vast array of prehistoric marine creatures, many of which were preserved in the rocks and are still being discovered today. The Kronosaurus queenslandicus skeleton was discovered in 1926 by Ralph Thomas, on a property called Army Downs, which is 48km north of Richmond. Five years later it was collected by a geologist and shipped to the USA, where it is on display at Harvard University.
“This one was not originally on our Dinosaur Trail itinerary, but Ethan really wanted to see it, so we changed our plans to make it happen – and I’m really glad we did. Our whole family are passionate scuba divers, and we love exploring the coral gardens of the Great Barrier Reef, so to see the fossils of the prehistoric creatures that used to roam Australia’s vast inland sea, was awesome. It was super interesting to see the turtle fossils, which very closely resemble the turtle’s we still see today, and the cephalopods reminded us of the nautilus – which when I did a bit of ‘digging’ makes complete sense – because today’s nautilus, are the living ‘survivors’ of the cephalopods. All the fossils at Kronosaurus Korner were really well presented, with excellent information, and the audio-visual presentation was well put together and brought that inland sea to life for us. Honestly, I was expecting to be a bit ‘dinosaured-out’ by the time we got to Richmond, but this was so different to the Age of Dinosaurs and Lark Quarry, and I highly recommend it.” – Julie Johnston
Digging at Dawn is a guided tour provided by the Kronosaurus Korner Museum, where you literally get to dig in the fossil fields, in the hope of finding your own fossil keepsake. It took on a whole new meaning for us, because we were staying at Julia Creek, which is a 1 hour and 40 minute drive from Richmond – so we needed to be up and on the road by 5.45am. Thank god for coffee! The 2-hour tour started at the Kronosaurus Korner Museum, where the curator met us and provided a bit of an overview of the tour, before leading the convoy of participant vehicles out to the fossil fields. Once we were all on site, we were issued with a chisel, hammer and brush, and provided with a brief demonstration on how to use them and set to ‘work’.
Did we enjoy it? Have to say, not really – but lots of other people were having a really good time. It turns out I do like fossicking for treasures, but digging for fossils, not so much. Side note – this is not a reflection on the tour itself, which many participants did really enjoy, it’s just our personal interest wasn’t there. That being said, it is very cool to visit the fossil fields and see the place these marine fossils were being discovered and recovered from, before being taken to the museum for cleaning, preservation and presentation. We did find a small piece of fossilised turtle shell and the lovely guide gifted Ethan a shark tooth fossil.
After the 2 hour Digging at Dawn tour was completed, we returned to the museum for a good look around. In addition to the audio-visual presentation, they had audio sets so you could self-guide around the Museum, pausing to listen to information at any particular displays of interest. Highlights for me included the turtle skeleton and the Platypterygius, which resembled an oversized dolphin but with teeth. The Kronosaurus Korner Museum also had an onsite café and excellent souvenir shop.
Fossils of the Platypterygius australis are relatively common on the fossil fields of Outback Queensland, especially around the sites of Richmond, Hughenden and Julia Creek, and the Kronosaurus Korner Museum has several significant displays of this prehistoric marine dinosaur.
Absolutely, we thought it was an excellent museum showcasing Australia’s marine dinosaurs.
It’s in Richmond – 91-93 Goldring Street, Richmond Queensland 4822. During peak season – April to October – it is open 7 days a week. Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 4pm | Saturday and Sunday, 9am – 3pm. In the off-peak season – November to March, it’s open 6 days a week. Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 4pm | Saturday 9am – 2pm | Closed on Sunday.
Yes you do, entry is ticketed.
I would have to yes – despite us not particularly loving it – everyone else on the tour really enjoyed it, so our experience is indicative of our personal preferences in regards to activities, as opposed to being a reflection of the tour itself.
The Kronosaurus Korner Museum is in Richmond, a very small outback town in central Queensland. Most certainly the Museum is the big ticket item in town and as such, best to include a stop here as a part of your driving itinerary as opposed to making it a main destination. The Museum itself was really good and we were impressed with the quality of presentation, information and diversity of fossils and displays.
© I Love Cairns 2023