Fostering fossil tourism focus of newly-appointed Riversleigh World Heritage Advisory Committee

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs The Honourable Meaghan Scanlon

Fostering fossil tourism the focus of newly-appointed Riversleigh World Heritage Advisory Committee

Supporting tourism and good jobs to one of the world’s most famous fossil sites, a site marker project and the development of a strategic management plan are key priorities for the Palaszczuk Government’s newly-appointed Riversleigh World Heritage Advisory Committee, which recently met in Mount Isa.

Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said the committee brings together increased representation from the World Heritage Area’s Traditional Owners, the Waanyi peoples, as well as community, local council and scientific experts.

The committee visited Riversleigh D-Site as well as “Bitesantennery Valley” to gain a better understanding of the landscape and significant scientific finds of this internationally iconic area.

“The committee includes palaeontologists, zoologists, geologists, archaeologists and anthropologists, and importantly, the Traditional Owners of the area, the Waanyi people have significant input as co-managers of the Boodjamulla National Park,” Minister Scanlon said.

Minister Scanlon said the committee identified three key focus areas for their first year of work:

  • Progressing stage 4 of the Fossil Site Marker Project which ensures all extracted fossils are formally linked to their site of origin using best practice methodology.
  • Finalisation of strategic planning for the Australian Fossil Mammal Sites serial property which includes Riversleigh and Naracoorte in South Australia.
  • Contributing expertise to Tourism and Events Queensland’s Paleo Tourism Project, laying the foundation for the growth of this industry across the region.

It comes after the Palaszczuk Government and Waanyi People earlier this year launched their joint management plan for Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park.

“The upgrade of visitor facilities for D-Site – funded by the Palaszczuk and Australian Governments – is due to be completed by the end of September and includes an enhanced interpretive display, improved visitor facilities and welcome area.

“Representatives from the Department of Environment and Science, Queensland Museum and Tourism and Events Queensland also attend, to provide valuable input to committee deliberations.

Minister Scanlon said the Riversleigh World Heritage Area is part of the Australian Fossil Mammal Sites and comprises over 10,000 hectares of Boodjamulla National Park.

“The area’s fossil deposits are among the richest and most extensive in the world and date back more than 25 million years,” Ms Scanlon said.

“The fossils at Riversleigh, about 250 kilometres north-west of Mount Isa, have helped researchers and the rest of the world understand what Australia was like millions of years ago.

“It is hard to imagine, but Riversleigh was once a lush rainforest, home to predatory tree-climbing marsupial lions, large crocodiles, meat-eating kangaroos and flightless birds that were three metres tall.

“Riversleigh’s fossils retain their three-dimensional structure because they are preserved in freshwater limestone which has not been compressed or flattened.

“That’s why the fossils at Riversleigh are of outstanding quality and are exceptional examples of the key evolutionary stages of Australia’s diversity of animals.

“While fossils were spotted in the area in 1901, the first palaeontological surveys began in 1976 and scientists were able to piece together how Australia’s unique wildlife evolved from ancient animals.”

Minister Scanlon said the site was listed as a World Heritage site in 1994 and the Riversleigh World Heritage Advisory Committee will complement more than four decades of continuing scientific research at the site.

Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said Outback Queensland was an emerging world leader in paleo tourism.

“Many of the southern hemisphere’s best dinosaur finds and experiences are located right here in Outback Queensland,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“Riversleigh is an important part of Queensland’s rich palaeontological history and our Outback dinosaur-based visitor attractions.

“Dinosaur tourism accounts for more 11 per cent of tourism’s $470 million contribution to the Outback economy and supports nearly 10 per cent of all Outback Queensland jobs.”

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