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.

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Gatakers Artspace & precinct

I’m embarrassed to confess that it took me six months of being back on the Fraser Coast before I ventured to Maryborough’s trendy Gatakers Artspace and precinct.

Sadly time didn’t permit an excessive amount of sightseeing so I skipped the Bond Store and the Military & Colonial Museum (which I’ve also visited previously); but as the much beleaguered Muddy Waters Cafe was reopening after repeated floodings and a new art show, by local artist Gina Davey was being launched, I figured it was a good time to pop down there.

GatakersI’d been to Gatakers Artspace years ago and decided then that I could indeed live in the venue. Its renovation / refurbishment reminds me of some high spec house which should be featuring on Lifestyle TV or the like. I must confess (though) to being a bit underwhelmed last time I visited the gallery – with mostly local knitting on display. This visit however, was much more fruitful, with Davey’s Person of Interest exhibition featuring downstairs and an array of artwork and sculptures upstairs.

In fact I was so mesmerised with a series (by a local artist whose name I’ve forgotten – in bottom right corner of pic) that I even contemplated whether my current state of poverty would permit me to buy one of the pieces.

MuddyWatersI was keen to show Muddy Waters Cafe some support after the bad luck they’ve experienced. I know that building by a river is fraught with danger, but am pretty sure they didn’t expect five floods in three years. The Cafe is now in the Customs House building (home of the former Port Residence), which offers some pleasing views.

Owners Michael and Mia Cox say they are starting small; they are yet to get their liquor licence and only open from 9 – 4 (Tuesday – Sunday) at the moment.

I’ve decided I’ll cut them some slack, as they’re still getting started, but in my case – as a coeliac – gluten-free options were very limited. In fact they were practically non-existent. The helpful waitress said that they could just remove parts of a dish, but it seemed wasteful to pay for something and only receive half of it and nothing tempted me anyway. We were also offered the breakfast menu (all day breakfast I assume) but again there was no GF bread and they were unsure about the chorizo and bacon.

It’s not cheap and I have to admit I won’t be rushing back at this stage. I’ll keep an eye out though because if their menu expands, it is a nice spot and might be worth a second chance. I know people thought well of it previously.

janetsOn the suggestion of my mother and a few locals I also visited Janet’s Art while at that end of town. And… Oh. My. God. I was super-impressed. “Atmosphere and gluten-free options galore!” I tweeted afterwards. I saw several things I was keen to buy, but only left with some cards (Mother’s Day was approaching!).

I picked up a takeaway menu and was pleasantly surprised at the array of GF options on offer. There’s a lovely space out the back which should prove nice during winter and I love that the store supports local artists and jazz.

I’m keen to return to the precinct to make it to Gatakers by Night, which is staged from 5-9pm on the last Saturday (of each full weekend of the month) and features music and artists-in-action. And it’s nice to see that the beautiful space is being put to good use.