Because Richmond is only 114 km from Hughenden we opted to book 3 nights in Hughenden and tackle Richmond, the third apex of the Dinosaur Trail triangle, as a day trip. When I booked our passes online it seemed that COVID required booking specific times so I had opted for an 11:00 am slot at Kronosaurus Korner. That would allow ample time to travel from Hughenden without an early start.
We were a bit slower off the mark for some reason this morning. It cannot have been the cold since this was the warmest morning we have had on the trip, around 8ºC at 7:00 am. It may have been that we were later to bed after watching iView and Netflix programs on my iPad hotspotted off my iPhone. The van has a screen which will handle DVD or USB but does not receive broadcast TV.
Whatever the reason, by 8:30 am we had called by the bakery to buy fresh bread and were on the road to Richmond. The road was mostly straight and flat all the way with just a few gentle ridges between channels. It was bumpy in places, probably as a result of the underlying black soil which moves and disturbs the road surface. Traffic was light though I did have to overtake a couple of road trains.
The countryside looked much more inviting than most of what we had seen as we drove up from Winton. There were few trees in most parts but most of it had grass, browned off in winter but still being grazed in places. Some of the creeks we crossed had small pools of water but mostly things were bone dry.
A bit more than halfway we saw a long train heading east. Not much further on we saw several machines on the line and reasoned that they must have been off the line when the train passed. Eventually we saw a temporary siding where machinery could get on and off the line. They were part of a major project replacing sleepers and ballast along 20 km or more of the line. Closer to Richmond it was apparent the line, including rails, had already been renewed. As we left Richmond to comeback this afternoon we saw a train waiting for the line to clear so it could go east.
We were in Richmond around 10:00 am and parked under a shade cover in the centre of the Main Street where we made and drank coffee with a bakery treat before going into Kronosaurus Korner.
After seeing the minor, though interesting, display at the Flinders discovery Centre yesterday we were prepared to be underwhelmed by Kronosaurus Korner but our experience was quite the opposite. The young woman at reception handed us devices with audio commentary and set the 8 minute introductory movie running. It provided an overview of the geological history of the area and some of the important finds.
The audio devices worked by entering a number corresponding to that on an exhibit to access the commentary for that exhibit. The commentary was voiced by Rob Ievers, a local councillor who has been a main mover in developing the museum and has a gallery in the museum named after him. The commentaries are substantial, sometimes quite long and full of scientific detail. It took us just a bit less than 2 hours to wander through the museum and listen to almost 40 snippets of commentary. The vast majority of exhibits in the museum are the original fossils rather than replicas and it was possible to see into the preparation area where, similar to the laboratory outside Winton, palaeontologists and volunteers work on extracting fossils from the rocks and preparing them for display and research.
After all that, Majella was inspired and we had to buy our $5 permit and go hunting for fossils. We drove about 12 km out of town to one of the designated dig areas. We ate lunch of ham and salad sandwiches on our fresh bread in the van to avoid the flies before getting among the fossils or at least the rock and dust. Majella carried away a couple of small pieces of rock but we are not sure whether the marks we can see are fossils.
We did not spend long among the rocks, dust, and flies. By 2:30 pm we were back in Hughenden where Majella wanted to check out the FJ Holden cafe which has the front end of an FJ hanging on its wall. Sadly the cafe’s restricted hours are 8 till 2 so we will have to try earlier tomorrow or before we leave on Wednesday morning.
On the way back to the van park we picked up some extra supplies to replace what we have eaten. Following our experience in Winton where the space we vacated during the day had been given to someone else, we had been advised that leaving an object on the site would serve as a reservation signal. The folding chair we left guarding our space had worked and we were able to resume our position. We relaxed in the shade of the van with nibbles and drinks until it was time to make dinner.