Dinosaurs come to Maryborough

TWO hundred million years ago dinosaurs roamed this land. Today, they’re here again in the magnificent Maryborough City Hall, brought to life by the wonders of science, technology and innovation.

Welcome to Explore-a-saurus – the award-winning $1million Scitech exhibition, direct from Perth.

I acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and welcome dignitaries, guests, family and friends to this wonderful exhibition that celebrates Maryborough’s place in history as a major centre of engineering excellence and marks a new beginning for the city’s rejuvenation.

This exhibition is just what the legendary Mary Poppins, whose creator was born just streets away, would have prescribed for this proud but forgotten city that’s in need of more than a spoon full of sugar to boost its confidence.

When our forefathers settled on the banks of the Mary River 170 years ago, they had visions of grand industries, businesses and homes. Over time, through masterful entrepreneurship and sheer determination their dreams became reality.

The Hyne dynasty gave birth to what is now a world class timber processing company. Warren Persal’s cabling company built 90 per cent of the power transmission lines in central Queensland.

The endeavours of Thomas Braddock, George Furber, Edgar Aldridge and many more are all featured in the Fraser Coast Chronicle’s latest product, Faces that Shaped the Region.

Another stand-out identity is George Ambrose White who gifted the funds needed to build this magnificent city hall in which we now stand, but is grossly underutilised.

Sadly, through the constant erosion of our facilities and services to other centres over recent years, this entire city which was once the hub of the Wide Bay region is fast becoming a dinosaur village.

But as our former mayor Alan Brown often said: “Out of our past is our future”.

This dinosaur exhibition is everything that Maryborough once stood for, and to my mind, will again.

It has taken the talents of Scitech’s skilled mechanical engineers, computer programers and entrepreneurs to bring these prehistoric creatures to life.

By focusing on science, technology, innovation, engineering and entrepreneurship,  this struggling city can also be rejuvenated beyond our wildest dreams.

Dinosaur exhibition the first of many

Today’s official opening of Explore-a-saurus is the first step towards that dream.

Maryborough needs to be reinvented, and logic dictates that it should be based on science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.

I’m all for “use what you’ve got” and we have a magnificent city hall that is so underused.

Maryborough is home to the RACQ Technology Challenge, Queensland’s largest youth technology event. We can take that to a new  level.

My dream is that after this exhibition is a proven success, we have rolling exhibitions here all the time.  People will come to know there’s always something happening they can come and see.

If it’s raining in Hervey Bay, come up to Maryborough to see the latest exhibition at the city hall.

Scitech has many exciting exhibitions such as this  – humanoids, backyards, spaceships, helicopters, jet skies and climbing walls just to name a few.

All those exhibitions include educational resources for school students.

Local teachers and their colleagues in Gympie, Bundaberg, Gayndah, Biggenden, Mundbubbera and Murgan could bring their students here in buses, not only to see the dinosaurs but also learn about their heritage with the city’s genealogy and history groups.

Out-of-town visitors might also go to the wildlife park or military museum.

Businesses could lever off any of these exhibitions.

For example, Maryborough’s CBD businesses have embraced this dinosaur exhibition with gusto.

The council asked eight businesses to make special offers on the back of the entry ticket – we had more than 30 business sign up!

My ultimate dream is for Maryborough to become the innovation centre of Queensland.

A step towards that dream would be to encourage Scitech to build an east coast branch within this region. Now, when similar exhibitions are held in Brisbane or Sydney, Scitech guys come over from Perth to set it up and then return home.

If something goes wrong, a guy flies over to fix it and then returns to Perth. At the end of the exhibition, they come over again, pack it all up and take the containers back to Perth.

I’m saying: “Leave with us in Maryborough – we can fix them and store them.”

It’s all about collaboration, such as seen in the excellent partnership Maryborough has with University of Southern Queensland in the study hub it opened last July in the education precinct.

Students of all ages now have access to fee-free pathway programs that will set them in the right direction towards achieving their career dreams.

Do we dare to dream too?

Recently a young father asked me if there was a future for him and his children in this city.

I said to him: “That’s a very sensible question that you ask yourself at your age. Should you leave this city and go somewhere else? The choice is entirely yours, but just maybe you could be part of the this city’s rejuvenation, but you’ll need to contribute towards that.”

Yes, you could leave this city and do well. A lot of people have left and gone on to be wonderful successes in all avenues of life. There is an amazing list of extreme high achievers who have come out this city – just go into Wharf Street and see their names on the footpath in the Maryborough Achiever’s Walk.

“It’s not that long ago the people of Maryborough boasted about these achievements, but along with the city’s drop in morale over recent years, that’s been lost.

Let’s boast again. Maryborough has much of which to be proud. The time is now to dream again. Can we do it, or will we dwell on the negatives? I won’t. I want to spend my life around positive people and create a city in which parents can confidently raise their children knowing they have futures here.

Let’s sprinkle some Mary Poppins magic around and dare to dream again … around science, innovation and entrepreneurship, harnessing the wisdom of our older residents such as engineering legend Peter Olds to help the young innovators bring their dreams to reality.

Technology is here to stay. I’ve been told that ambulance drones are now being used to assist people resuscitate heart attack victims as they wait for paramedics to arrive.

And, Amazon now delivers books by drones – buy a book online and a drone automatically goes to the factory, collects the book and delivers it to your front  porch.

That’s technology for you. Maybe one day you’ll get your groceries or pizzas delivered by drones.

Who knows what the future holds? Maryborough could be part of that technology evolution and this dinosaur exhibition is just the start.

Let’s all get behind it – bring your families, invite your relies, gather school classes and enlist community groups! It will all help towards building a better future for Maryborough.

Young Eliza who will cut the ribbon with me today is mad keen on becoming a paleontologist. How good is it that she can visit this exhibition any time between now and April without leaving her town? That gives her four months to absorb mountains of information.

Let us help Eliza and other kids like her fulfill their dreams by making this dinosaur exhibition the first of many.

Many people have been involved in bringing this dinosaur exhibition to fruition. They include:

  • Fraser Coast Council, particularly Lisa Stephenson and CEO Lisa Desmond.
  • The Scitech crew – Mike and Lawson who traveled from Perth and New Zealand to manage the construction.
  • Paul Stumkat – visiting paleontologist and natural history artist who prepared the dinosaurs.
  • Council’s Cultural Services team, particularly:
    • Les Alberts who has come on-board to coordinate the exhibition’s day-to-day running;
    • The tec crew including Jo, Adam, Brendan and Jono who worked in very hot conditions to assist in the build;
    • Trevor Rickert who has shown his creative genius in building the pop up Cretaceous Bar for opening tonight;
    • Janice, Darryl, Kelli and Vanida for setting up the ticketing system, procedures, processes and general fluffing; and
    • EM Debra Moore, Gen and Laura who are from the council’s extended team and stepped in to assist with logistics that you can’t even begin to imagine were necessary.
  • The more than 40 and counting volunteers who have joined up to assist, particularly:
    • Kelli MacGregor and her volunteer artist recruits who have created and will run the Jurrasic Jungle craft activities
  • The Fraser Coast Visitor Information Centre and tourism team for their support and ongoing partnership in the sale of tickets.
  • Maryborough Chamber and the businesses who have come on-board and embraced the cooperative marketing opportunity.

If I have inadvertently missed someone from this list I humbly apologise.

Mary Poppins statue, Maryborough, Queensland.

Mary Poppins statue, Maryborough, Queensland.

To quote a line from the Mary Poppins’ song A Spoon full of Sugar, “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and – SNAP – the job’s a game!”

And how fun is this? Welcome and enjoy.

–  Spoken and authorised by Fraser Coast Regional Councillor CHRIS LOFT; written by JOCELYN WATTS; December 11, 2014.



A truly outstanding speech with passion, past achievements, future possibilities and local emotive markers all woven into a well-flowing narrative. Well done.

–  GRAHAM HILL, Lea Group, Leadership Education Australia.
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