Aussie ABC – F is for Fossils!

Last Updated on March 25, 2018 by Red Nomad OZ

Plesiosaur at the Stone House Museum, Boulia
Plesiosaur at the Stone House Museum, Boulia

The ancient landscape of OZ, eroded by time, long disappeared sea beds and a harsh climate has given rise to weirdly unique and bizarre creatures. Well … their remains, anyway!

I knew this. But I DIDN’T know the present day Outback fossil fields near northwest Queensland’s Richmond, would engender a creature more fantastic than any of them.

And I was there when the Bermuda Trianglesque alignment of mystical forces during our July 2011 visit to the Richmond fossil fossicking fields coalesced to spawn an almost-alien almost-super heroic life form.


Where else could the trappings of an ordinary life of relative civilization be thrown aside so fecklessly – to transmogrify into the fabled and fearless, frenetic and frightening …


I blame the ‘Honour Roll’ exhibit.

Kronosaurus Queenslandicus replica - Richmond, Queensland
Kronosaurus Queenslandicus replica – Richmond, Queensland

As we left Richmond’s Kronosaurus Korner, inspired by an array of wondrous fossil finds worthy of removal by study at Harvard University, an exhibit near the exit catalogued some exciting discoveries. We stopped for a closer look. An honour roll of significant fossil finds – unearthed by tourists, many of them children on family holidays, at the nearby fossicking fields!

Yes, the fossil force-field started to stir …

Then again, maybe the blame lies with the ‘dig’.

Moving the Fish Skeleton, Richmond, Queensland
Moving the Fish Skeleton, Richmond, Queensland

Armed with our photocopied ‘Fossil-Hunting Guide’, map from the Visitor Information Centre and shovel, we arrived at the fields ready to kick some serious fossil-finder butt. Only to be trumped by a pair of Canadians who’d discovered a rare, almost complete fish skeleton (cick HERE for the story) that even made the news – although incomprehensibly claimed by Queensland’s premier as a great personal triumph. We watched the plaster cast being lifted from the ground for the bumpy trip back to the lab.

The odds of finding fossils are astronomically high on this Toolebuc formation – an ancient limestone sea floor, where almost every rock yields animal remains. We couldn’t miss, right? SURELY we could outdo the Canadians – after all, this was virtually our home turf! And Pilchard’s gemstone fossicking skills, well developed from countless hours on the sapphire and opal fields, were transferrable to the fossil medium, weren’t they??

Inside a moonrock!
Inside a moonrock!

But the final blame for FOSSILHUNTER lies with junior FOSSILHUNTER.

Part of the ‘dig’, a young lad casually wandered up to one of the staff with something in his hand. ‘What’ve you got there?’ she asked, bending over for a closer look.

‘Fish jaws,’ he replied nonchalantly as she got out her fossil-hunter kit – magnifying glass and preservation liquid.

‘Fish jaws, huh?’ Pilchard snorted, and I could sense his competitive urge rising, along with the hot, green bile of envy.

And right then, right there, FOSSILHUNTER emerged, fully formed and frantic for a frenetic fossil finding frenzy!

Outer Barcoo Interpretive Centre, Isisford, Queensland
Outer Barcoo Interpretive Centre, Isisford, Queensland

The uninformed may well believe FOSSILHUNTER’s foiled attempt to join the fossil-finding elite*** was due to lack of expertise.  I blame lack of equipment – ie only two (map, shovel) of the guide’s 14 suggested field equipment items!  My discovery of a Scenic Public Toilet only partly made up for the disappointment of remaining amongst the millions of Australians who haven’t yet found a major fossil …

But where FOSSILHUNTER failed, many others have succeeded – a list of Queensland fossil hotspots reads like an Outback who’s who! And Richmond, along with Winton and Hughenden, forms the Dinosaur trail – although impressive fossil credentials in other towns (eg Muttaburra, Eromanga, Mt Isa, Isisford and Boulia)  put them on the map for fossil enthusiasts*.

'Mutt' - main street, Hughenden, Queensland
‘Mutt’ – main street, Hughenden, Queensland

Where else in the world can you see such fine (and in some cases – only) examples of Plesiosaur, Isisfordia duncanii, Richmond pliosaur, Muttaburrasaurus langdoni, Minmi** and more?

Of course transmogrifying into FOSSILHUNTER isn’t a requirement for appreciating Australia’s fossil finds – but Richmond, aka ‘Fossil capital of Australia’, is one of the few places that FOSSILHUNTER and his ilk can actually join the hunt.

Minmi, Richmond, Queensland
Minmi, Richmond, Queensland

Thanx to FOSSILHUNTER’s superior skills (yes, he’s probably reading this …) I’m betting that although we’ve already seen more fossils in Queensland than the average person, we’ll be following the fossil trail to other states!  Bet you can’t wait either …

For now, following the fossil finding failure in the fossicking fields, FOSSILHUNTER is dormant. But who can say when fossil force field fever will once again activate FOSSILHUNTER and trigger the next awakening??

*Click on each town for more information

** Click on each dinosaur for more information

*** No, other than the rock fossil in FOSSILHUNTER’s hand, not one of the exhibits above had ANYTHING to do with either of us … unbelieveable, huh?!

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  1. @Alessandra – Hey, you might just enjoy it too!! Kronosaurus Korner has a Kids Club – he could join it online!!
    @CR & LMA – Thank you for visiting! Come back anytime more exciting Australian adventures!
    @Ebie – I don’t know if the skin colour is authentic – how could we possibly know that?? – but who cares?!

  2. · Sorry bad English.
    It’s fantastic knowing so interesting things about your country.

    · regards

    CR & LMA

  3. The perfect holiday for my little boy! We are seriously considering a trip to OZ next year :-), but I doubt that it will become the personal triumph of a local politician

  4. @Eden – it’s a real outback experience not to be missed!
    @25BAR – And imagine the thrill actually finding a BIG one!! Sadly, we can only imagine seeing as we DIDN’T!!
    @River – HHHMMMmmm… now that you put it like that, maybe P & I DID find a big one – we just didn’t recognise it for what it was!!
    @Lilly – Well … fossilised droppings are actually known as ‘coprolites’! Google it, and you’ll also find coprolite jewellery for sale …
    @Jackie – I guess they call it ‘fossicking’ because it’s kind of like hunting for gemstones! Your fossils sound amazing!!
    @Sandy – Why, thank you! It’s difficult to believe their age when they’re right there to touch and hold! Thanx for dropping by!!

  5. @ladyfi – Yes! And imagine what it’d be like to actually find one of the BIG ones!!
    @Halcyon – Thank you! But we wish they’d have been a bit more common where we were fossicking …
    @Sallie – haha! Sadly, or happily (depending on your point of view) I don’t think he’ll EVER grow up!
    @Diane – HAHAHAHA! Maybe they could team up with the gov’t departments downunder!!!!
    @Al – Well, of COURSE it is! They’re personally responsible for the fossils being there and providing such a tourist attraction!

  6. @aka Penelope – If we hadn’t seen the impressive museum specimens, we’d never have tried fossicking for our own!! Marvellous fun!!
    @Gattina – yes, it’s weird how some don’t exist but others still live today!!
    @Dhemz – Welcome, and thanx! We’ll be trying our luck again next time we’re in the area!
    @Rajesh – You got that right!
    @Leovi – Me too! I can’t think of anything quite as fascinating!!
    @PDP – Ah, you’re so good for my ego! I don’t think I included any 4 letter ‘f’ words though, did I?!

  7. @eileeninmd – fossil hunting really sucks you in … ‘I’ll just turn over one more piece’ and before you know it, several hours have passed!!
    @Tina’s PicStory – Welcome & thanx!
    @Mimmu/Leena – Welcome to you too! Australia is a biologist’s heaven!! But no Gaudi …
    @Arija – better still, visit and find your own!! Even the small, common ones we found were exciting to unearth – amazing to think they’ve been buried for eons!
    @Gary – Thanx! Drop by anytime!!@

  8. Fossil Fossicking…never heard that one before. Last time I went fossil hunting was on the beach at Whitby and a place called Boggle Hole. No big fish, just ammonites, belemnites etc., I found a big tooth, but don’t know what it belonged to. The ammonites are sticking out of the cliffs in Whitby, some of them are pretty big.

  9. We have black bears pooping in the woods and it becomes fossilized – would that count? ha,ha
    Actually, approx 1 n 1/2 hr drive from here to St. Martins have tons of fossils by the seaside. I have found a few leaf fossils, but nothing great.
    I really enjoyed this post Red.
    Thanks, Lilly

  10. I’m in awe of archaeologists. I really am. They see thousand year old bones etc, where most of us would see a line of interestingly shaped rocks. They uncover history, where most of us would just kick aside a pebble or shell.

  11. I’m always interested in prehistoric fossils; was obsessed with dinosaurs as a kid. Just imagine having some of those around!

  12. I had fun hunting fossils with you OZ! Thanks for taking us along. It looks like such an interesting thing to do — maybe it’s just as well that Fossil Hunter didn’t find something rare this time, because then what would you hope for? (That poor little boy will be all jaded by the time he’s grownup).

  13. I think I live near the other end of your fossil field. Truly. If you dug straight through the center of the earth, you would come out at Drumheller – Alberta’s fossil central! (Except for the government department when my husband works – that, too is fossil central, except there, the fossils are still employed.) They’re thinking of organizing a tour . . .

  14. There’s a fair few ‘f’ starting words in that last paragraph Red, try saying that after a few drinkies!! Excellent post that had me chuckling all the way through…AGAIN!!

  15. Remnants of the past are fascinating and what a fun adventure to actually hunt for them yourselves. Glad some are held in museums, though, so non-hunters can also discover what others have found. 🙂

  16. It looks like I was in the area well before the fossils were discovered. Seems like another trip is in order.

    A great post indeed.

  17. You really are right about Gaudi 🙂
    Thank you for stopping by.

    Your post is interesting in many way, great photos and writings. ( I am a biologist this subject is near me 🙂

  18. How cool what a great place to visit. Fossil hunting is very interesting and fun. Thanks for sharing your world and the fossils. Have a great day!

  19. @lotusleaf – haha! Maybe it’s an Aussie thing? Or they save the delicate instruments for back in the lab!!
    @Journey Jottings – Haha! A T-Rex would absolutely guarantee our return! As it is, I’m 99.999% sure of it …
    @Jayne – Hahaha! But is that his idea? Or yours??!!! Victoria is a great mystery waiting to be discovered … I look forward to it!
    @Manzanita – Well, I’m impressed with YOUR persistence!! I’ll asterisk the big words next time & add my own definitions!!
    @FruitCake – Why, thank you! Any fossil remains visible in a long drop loo are too scary to contemplate …
    @TGN – Well … you never know! I hope there are still great things waiting for discovery – but don’t know that I want to actually find a big D!

  20. Hi there – I think fossil hunting is such a great thing to do – I used to be able to find them on small limestone cliffs back in the UK as a kid – I was probably destroying a valuable site!

    Will post picture of dull and uninteresting places next time just to keep you happy!!

    Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne

  21. Great post, and great job with all the info and the links out to further reading on the dinos. Hey, that outback there is pretty wild, maybe there are a few of these still roaming around?! lol

  22. Always a treat to read your stories, and this one scores 12 out of 10. [I hope you checked that loo carefully for reptile remains…]

  23. My tongue is twisted from trying to read aloud the alliterative F-words. First I got hung-up on the word “transmogrify.” I had to look it up and then I always get ah-wandering. So I’m back and impressed with Fossilhunter’s persistence. I love those tool belts they wear. Lucky you, finding a public toilet. Until your next fossil experience, adios.


  24. That is where Feral Teen aspires to live the rest of his natural life lol.
    I shall expect to hear Fossilhunter is in evidence at Inverloch beach, Vic, where they keep unearthing fossils. 😉

  25. Wow ~ The link to that Canadian fish find – What a fish – Quite remarkable… and the shadow on the right looks like a Tyrannosaurus Rex bearing down hehe!!
    As far as FossilFinder goes… Better luck next time 🙂

  26. @SFlaGuy – Haha! Better too many links than the world’s longest post that never gets read!! But can Florida out-fossil OZ??
    @Rubye – Fossilhunter will live to fossick another day – at present he’s too busy digging holes to China in the hillside searching for the leak in our water supply pipe … What’s a rose rock??
    @Magsx2 – Lots of great stuff on the trail, but lots more off it!!
    @J Bar – Why thank you! It’s certainly different to Sydney!!

  27. Hi,
    How exciting you are on the dinosaur trail, this is on my to do list, I read about the dinosaur trail a few years back, really fascinating. Loved the post.

  28. Poor sad Fossilhunter. Ah, but there is always another day.

    All we have here in Oklahoma is arrowheads and rose rocks and I never have figured out the fascination with rose rocks.

  29. You went link crazy on this post. Good thing I’m at work so I can chase them all down. I don’t think we have any fossils in Florida. Oh wait – Florida is one great big fossilized coral reef. I may have written about that recently.

    Like minds, a world apart. Very cool.

  30. I swear! It was the most indelicate operation I’ve ever seen!! But it was still in one piece when it left – despite being dropped!!

  31. I am used to seeing delicacy when fossils are removed. A four wheel drive, straps and burly blokes removing the fish looks somewhat indelicate.

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