Prior to the construction of The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History, activities were run and co-ordinated from Belmont Station, the home of David and Judy Elliott. Temporary fossil preparation and storage facilities, while limited in scope, were extremely productive. The Museum project will be developed in three stages, with Stage 1 initiating relocation of facilities from Belmont Station to the permanent Museum site.
Stage 1 required the co-ordination of many sub-projects. A variety of basic infrastructure had to be established before the site could accept visitors and Fossil Preparation Laboratory works could commence.
Projects included the establishment of all-weather gravel road access to the site, two staff cottages, short-stay housing for volunteers, the Fossil Preparation Laboratory building and facilities, secure fossil storage facilities, power and water infrastructure, dam construction, site fencing, removal of feral animals (mostly goats) and plants (prickly acacia), signposting, parking and trailer unhitching areas, safety fencing, temporary shop facilities, and public amenities. This stage was funded and completed in July 2009.
Status: Completed. Some projects are ongoing (such as removal of re-infestations of feral plants and animals). Existing amenities and facilities will continue to be improved and developed.
Stage 2 of the Museum project involved construction of the Reception Centre and associated infrastructure, been built 500 metres south of the Fossil Preparation Laboratory (Stage 1).
Stage 2 has enabled AAOD to handle larger numbers of people and provide a more comprehensive experience to the public. It has also enabled the fossil ‘type collection’ to be relocated out of insulated shipping containers and into a temperature controlled display area. These highly significant fossils are now on permanent display along with an amazing depiction of Australia as it may have looked nearly 100 million years ago. This stage also incorporates the initial development of walking trails and natural history tours.
The Reception Centre was funded by the Federal Government for $1,000,000 with support from Arts Qld ($50,000) Winton Shire Council and numerous corporations and individuals. The building was designed pro-bono by Cox Rayner Architects and built at cost by Woollam Constructions.
Status: Completed. Stage 2 was officially opened to the public on 8 April 2012 by the Hon Simon Crean, Federal Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government.
An additional project in 2014, funded by a Regional Development Australia Fund grant, added a generator shed and undercover parking facilities to Stage 1 and a Staff and Volunteer Amenities Building, including generator, to Stage 2.
This is the last major stage of the Museum’s development and, due to the enormity of this stage, will be completed in several phases. This is the biggest single step the project will take and the primary reason for the first two stages is that when this step is taken, the majority of products, services, programs and operating protocols are either in place or well-advanced in their development.
Stage 3 will see the construction of a multi-million dollar working dinosaur museum facility with preparation laboratory, collection and type room facilities, classrooms, theatres and comprehensive displays. It will also encompass a wide range of outdoor displays and dioramas over a large area of the mesa and the building of all associated infrastructure such as parking space, picnic and rest room facilities, walking trails and guided tour facilities. The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History will be situated approximately 2km further SSW from the Reception area.
The Reception Centre (Stage 2) will remain as the payment entry gate for Museum visitors but its display area will be converted to archival storage, off site collection register back-up storage and additional office space for general administration, society administration, AAOD Journal production and management offices. This has been purposely designed to minimise the construction of high-cost building space at the Museum.
The Fossil Preparation Laboratory (Stage 1) will be converted to vehicle garaging, equipment storage, bulk merchandise storage and workshop facilities for general maintenance and the construction of Museum displays. This will also be a huge saving on high-cost Museum building space and remove all heavy construction work such as welding to an area safely away from the public.
Apart from Museum building construction, Stage 3 includes the development of comprehensive education programs, teacher development courses, overseas study tours and scientific research programs. It will also incorporate the construction of natural history displays and dioramas external to the Museum building as well as advanced tours and experiential activities.
Status: The construction of Stage 3 was officially launched on 31 May 2015 by Former Governor General of Australia and Patron of Australian Age of Dinosaurs, Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO.
Update: The official opening of Dinosaur Canyon (Stage 3.1) was opened on 15 April 2017 by Former Governor General of Australia and Patron of Australian Age of Dinosaurs, Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO.
In late June 2019 the Queensland Government officially awarded the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum a share in the $36 million Growing Tourism Infrastructure (GTI) Fund to deliver the Dynamic Destination project: to build the Gondwana Stars Observatory and March of Titanosaurs exhibition.
The Dynamic Destination project will be ready to open to the public by the middle of 2020.