Saturday, May 25, 2024

Bass Coast digs in to dinosaur trail plans

Plans for the $18 million first phase of the Bass Coast Shire Council’s Dinosaurs Trail have been revealed today, showcasing an interactive experience that celebrates the area’s fascinating prehistoric past and promises to take local landmarks to the global stage.

Council outlined the creative design plans for phase one of the unique experience that will span six creative sites including San Remo, Kilcunda, Wonthaggi, The Caves, Eagles Nest and Inverloch, plus a digital overlay.

The sites pay homage to the special environment inhabited by Victoria’s polar dinosaurs 125 million years ago. Using sophisticated technology, the site specific experiences incorporate sensors, LED lighting and full body tracking, as well as immersive 3D animations, audio-visual interaction and a digital field guide to deliver a world-class narrative of discovery and exploration.

The sites also feature sculptures, hectares of gardens and a world-class adventure playground.

In addition, the trail will be enhanced with layers of digital experiences that complement the site experience to expand its reach around the world.

Mayor, Michael Whelan said the Bass Coast Dinosaurs Trail interacts with the State Government’s Yallock Bulluk Access and Infrastructure Plan and would allow visitors to experience first-hand the incredible history that existed in the region.

“The Bass Coast Dinosaurs Trail is a game changer for tourism across our region,” Mayor Whelan said.

“Never before has there been such an exciting and unique tourism experience in regional Victoria that captures our prehistoric dinosaurs, which date back more than 125 million years.

“The Dinosaurs Trail will reinforce Bass Coast as a sustainable year-round tourism destination and provide an unparalleled attraction that draws upon the region’s heritage while connecting the next generation with science and education.”

Mayor Whelan said the project would be a game-changer for the region, which is already known for its nature-based attractions.

“Not only will this project be a unique addition to our tourism offerings, but it will support more than 400 jobs and significantly contribute to local tourism and expenditure in the region,” he said.

“Estimates show that opening visitor sites in 2026 would increase annual tourist numbers by up to 20%, with forecasts of new visitation of almost 100,000 people a year by 2035, which will make a significant impact on our local economy.”

The six sites include a Time Machine sculpture at San Remo that replicates DNA at 25 billion-times larger than life. A spiral staircase provides a vantage of the ever-widening valley that separates Australia and Antarctica where polar dinosaurs once roamed.

There is a Village Green gathering place at Kilcunda with a life-sized dinosaur inspired fence, and upgraded amenities including shelters, beach showers and barbecues.

A new 7ha Gondwana Garden in Graham Street, Wonthaggi will take visitors on a journey from the beginning of Gondwanaland to its separation into continents and islands. The centrepiece of Gondwana Garden will be a community meeting and events space – The Crater – which will be home to special projection shows at night.

An auditory adventure awaits at Eagles Nest, the site of Australia’s first dinosaur fossil
discovery. The trail will combine immersive musical composition and compelling poetry to
transport visitors back to the Cretaceous period, while The Caves will host Pocket
Palaentologists, teaching visitors about real-life dinosaur hunters through animated characters voiced by the very scientists who have studied the area for years.

The trail will culminate in the Dino Hunters Playground at Inverloch, a combined adventure
playground, art installation, outdoor learning space and hands-on exhibition.

Dinosaur Dreaming dig coordinator, Lesley Kool – who has painstakingly searched for precious polar dinosaur fossils for almost 40 years – said the Bass Coast Dinosaurs Trail would be a tourism boon for the region and a welcome learning tool for generations to come.

“The Bass Coast Dinosaurs Trail is an incredible opportunity to put this impressive history on a global stage and acknowledge the dedicated research that has happened here for the past four decades, largely by volunteers who do it purely for the love and thrill of it,” Mrs Kool said.

“The Bass Coast is the only place where the early Cretaceous rocks are exposed of that age. All the rocks from San Remo to Inverloch have been dated at about 126 million years – and at that time Australia was very firmly attached to Antarctic and was the very last remnant of Gondwana.

“The Bass Coast is a unique environment and this is the only place in Australia where you can come and find evidence of early Cretaceous dinosaurs.

“Many people aren’t even aware that dinosaurs existed here so the Bass Coast Dinosaurs Trail will highlight just how special the South Coast of Victoria really is.”

Mayor Whelan said the concept still requires high level funding support, with Council now investigating partnership opportunities to help bring the Bass Coast Dinosaurs Trail to life.

Planning is also underway for a future second phase of the project, which includes the Inverloch Cultural Discovery Centre.

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