Searching for dinosaurs

Sally Eeles

A tiny community in outback Queensland has big plans for a museum and research station that will attract scientists and volunteers from around the world to hunt for dinosaurs.

PHOTOS: Searching for dinosaurs

Bones from several of the world's biggest plant-eaters have been discovered on a local property.

But experts say it's likely there are hundreds more and help is needed to find them.

Way out west - beyond Eromanga, the town that's furtherest from the sea, sleeping giants entrapped in earth for 100 million years - are breaking free.

Drought and flood have worn the arid ground of Stuart and Robyn Mackenzie's property away revealing secrets of a lost world.

"Australia's largest dinosaur - we discovered him when we were mustering cattle," said Stuart.

Giant dinosaurs - of varieties never known before - once roamed in rainforest here. Four have so far been unearthed: Cooper, George, Syd and Zac.

The discoveries are coming thick and fast but they're just the tip of the iceberg - it's likely there are hundreds of dinosaurs hidden out here - just waiting to be found.

For paleontologist Scott Hocknull it's like being a kid in a candy store.

"You don't know where to turn - which dinosaur to work on first," Mr Hocknull said.

"To actually find a fossil that's 100 million years old and you're the first human see it - a new species - it's a huge rush - you can't beat it."

But resources are tight - he and his band of workers from the Queensland Museum - many of them, volunteers - can only come for a few weeks each year.

The number of bones they've already collected - will take decades to prepare. Property owner Robyn MacKenzie has become the chief bone cleaner.

"Every day we are working on the dino bones - we are discovering something new basically - because you are uncovering something that hasn't seen the light of day for 95 million years," she said.

She's set up a personal lab. But anyone with time to learn - can lend a hand.

"Patience, persistence and a little dose of perfection doesn't hurt," she said.

Support in the local surrounds is flourishing and children are leading the way.

"They're really interesting and I could come here and do this when I'm older," said local girl Ash Cooper.

Robyn and Stuart, have established the Outback Gondwana Foundation - to attract financial support and volunteers to work at the site.

Their dream is for a museum and international research station so digging dinosaurs can become a full-time job.

"This is one of the most significant fossil sites in Australia and will continue to be for many many years," said Stuart.

"The rest of the world is going to come looking as well once they know what we've got. If we don't embrace it we won't understand what our past was like - why we inherited this great country and we certainly won't know what the future will hold.

"This is our national identity. This is what will become an iconic part of Australia just like Uluru or the Great Barrier Reef."

The Mackenzies will find out if the government approves of their plans next month.