Explore-a-saurus: Dinosaurs on the Fraser Coast

When I was very young there was a magical place in Maryborough, known as the Wintergarden Theatre. My friends and I were regular visitors until it closed in the mid 1980s and I vaguely recall either Flashdance or Footloose being the last movie I saw there.

However… I digress as this story starts a decade earlier, when I inadvertently saw a dinosaur movie which scared the bejesus out of me. I cannot recall the movie in question but it was back in the day of double-header movies, so I suspect it was just the support act for the film we actually went to see. I don’t remember what that was either—emerging scarred with visions of dinosaurs eating people out of cages. Or something.

Yet Friday night I returned to Maryborough for more dinosaur adventures.

Unless you live under a rock (oops sorry, poor stone-age joke!) you’re probably aware that the Explore@saurus dinosaur exhibition is currently on display at Maryborough’s City Hall.

dinosaurs maryborough

The four-month long exhibition kicked off in December 2014 and is in town until 19 April 2015.

If I had kids to accompany I’m sure I’d have been more motivated to visit before now, but alas… it took the promise of alcohol to get me there.

drinks at explore-a-saurus in maryborough

Fraser Coast Events has just hosted the second Night at the Museum—held on Friday 13th in February and March. Always keen to try something different, a friend and I headed to the borough to partake in the cretaceous bar, dinosaurs and whatever else was on offer.

I must admit I was expecting the worst but other than the presence of a few naff stuffed dinosaurs (purely for decorative purposes), the displays were quite impressive. In addition to a half dozen rather large animatronic dinosaurs there are a host of interactive activities. Not to mention exhibits of dinosaur poop which I know will appear to any boy under 10!

dinosaurs maryborough explore-a-saurus fraser coast

The evening events are targeted at adults but at other times a range of kids’ activities are on offer, including colouring, mask making and the opportunity to dig in a sandpit and discover fossils and treasures for yourself.

And there’s stacks to learn. My friend and I  were only slightly embarrassed to admit we knew nothing about our own country’s palaeolithic history so were surprised to come across the Muttaburrasaurus. Which is apparently a real thing and named after the Queensland town!

The four-month tenure of the exhibit seems a bit excessive to me but I note the Fraser Coast Chronicle reported that the exhibit’s now had 15,000 visitors so has broken even and hope that means similar events are considered in the future.

Like many locals I tend to jump on the Fraser Coast Regional Council for their WTF ideas (viewing platform in Maryborough CBD anyone?!), but credit where it’s due.

I’m actually really impressed with some of Council’s cultural/arts initiatives in Maryborough. I know it sometimes feels like Hervey Bay’s poor cousin, but in reality the Council’s hosting a raft of interesting activities now. I’ve missed the last few Gatakers by Night but continue to enjoy the evenings. I’m yet to attend the Sunday Riverside activities but very keen to get along on a Sunday afternoon. And the pop-up bar amid the dinosaurs at City Hall—another great idea!

The exhibition closes on 19 April 2015 and is open Tuesdays – Sundays from 10am – 4pm. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for concessions or kids aged 3-16. Family passes and other deals are also available. For more information and online ticket sales, check out the Fraser Coast Events site.

Too much of a good thing?

The inaugural Hervey Bay Food and Wine Festival took place on the weekend – a two-day event held in the Pier Park at Urangan.

Screen shot 2013-10-14 at 9.42.21 AM

I was keen to attend (as I live near the Pier Park where it was held) but prevaricated a little. On one hand I like to try to support local events and – well… wine, music and food – what’s not to love? On the other hand, I’m a bit festivalled-out.

I gather (from talking to friends and family) that others feel the same. There have been A LOT of big events packed into the last six or so months here on the Fraser Coast: Relish, Mary Poppins Festival, Craft Festival, Whale Festival and the Seafood Festival.

In the last month alone in Hervey Bay, we’ve had the Pier Festival, 150th birthday celebrations, Tour de Bay and now the Food and Wine Festival. On top of that we’ve got the Beerfest,  Torbanlea Races, Maryborough Open House and Melbourne Cup celebrations in the next month. To cap all of that off, there’s my one-year-back-on-the-Fraser Coast-anniversary! (Obviously a cause of celebration. Or national holiday or similar! 😉 )

I know (from the Festival’s Facebook page) that the $15 entry fee turned a lot of people off. I understand the need to charge a fee: but Relish was $10 – and included a lot more activities for your money; and the Seafood Festival was $5.

I don’t go out a lot however, so was prepared to pay the entry fee and went along for a few hours on Sunday.

On a positive note, the entry fee meant that the festival probably attracted a different crowd to those who usually attend local markets or pub events (ie. no one was likely to get wasted and vomit on you or yell obscenities at the band).

wine1

I hadn’t known about the event until just a couple of weeks before it was held, so I’m not sure how far ahead it was planned. I know the organisers were still working on the music the week before the festival – so I was worried about what I’d find, however… I was pleasantly surprised.

I understand there were a few hiccups and organisers hope for bigger crowds in future, but in essence the event seemed quite successful – for we festival-goers anyway!

There were more wine-tasting options than I expected (though I know some would have liked to see more local wineries). And the ability to buy a glass/bottle of wine or champagne (or beer etc) to enjoy on the day was great.

After my disappointment at the Migaloo Starlight Swing, I was happy to know that there’d be a few food options and indeed Aquavue was on hand serving some salads (my friends partook in a prawn and mango salad with orange and mustard dressing which was apparently yummy); Wild Lotus offered up a steak sandwich that was much more – deliciously tender beef on sourdough etc. My friend who hates steak sandwiches, RAVED about the beef. Bayswater Hotel was serving antipasto platters and a squid salad; and there were pizzas and pancakes as well as coffee vans. (Something for everyone – though as a non-salad-eating coeliac – I struggled a little.)

wine2

I was also pleasantly surprised by the music. The acts had a bluesy feel and I was a tad tempted to hang around longer than planned to kick back, partake in more champers and enjoy the atmosphere.

Happily undercover seating was provided and as the day wore on there was heaps of shade for those who’d brought blankets or their own chairs.

I’d definitely go back, and I know organisers are thinking of running the festival again, but I do wonder if it could be paired with something else rather than being yet another separate event. And – feedback will be interesting – but organisers may also want to look at the cost in future years.

Did you attend, or did (or would) the $15 entrance fee put you off?