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Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Page: 4237

Senator FURNER (7:07 PM) —This evening I rise to discuss a recent activity from approximately four weeks ago. On Saturday 23 May I was in Richmond, which is half way between Townsville and Mount Isa on the Overlanders Way. The purpose of the visit was to officially open the Cambridge Downs store replica on behalf of the Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, the Hon. Gary Gray.

It has been about 25 years since I passed through that town. Things have not really changed a great deal other than for a few attractions in respect of tourism, which is great to see for a town like Richmond. From memory, when I visited that town I was with my then-to-be wife, Lorraine, so it was great to get back there and see the changes in that particular town.

The original store that the replica was crafted on was part of the colonial settlements in North Queensland dating back to 1864. A stonemason from Atherton was engaged to construct the stonework from a site close to the Cambridge ruins. Richmond school also worked in partnership with the council on the project to provide students with experience in project management and historical architecture. This was achieved through skills gained in project management and tourism in school based traineeships.

The new Cambridge Downs store, as identified by Mayor John Wharton, is a working project. The replica store has many interesting displays ranging from household items, Aboriginal artefacts, Condamine and Kentucky bells, a Cooper 2 stand portable shearing plant and shearing handpieces along with historical panels on Cambridge Downs, the Woolgar Massacre, the Woolgar Goldfields and, out the back, a well-kept wool wagon and sulky wagon.

In the warm autumn Saturday morning sunshine John proudly showed me around the site and introduced me to many of the 800 local people who reside in Richmond. As expected from past experiences, I was greeted with the warm, friendly hospitality that you generally find in country Australia. Notwithstanding the numbers of locals present, there were several tourists from other parts of our country, experiencing the great attractions Richmond has on offer. In fact, I think there was a couple there from South Australia, enjoying their morning.

After the official proceedings were completed, I had the opportunity to visit the Kronosaurus Korner, which is the fossil capital of Australia and world renowned for the 110-million-year-old marine fossils. Among the 400 separate exhibits, there is Australia’s best vertebrate fossil, the 4.25-metre Richmond Pliosaur and the armoured dinosaur, Minmi, which are both 100 million years old.

Standing in Central Queensland—500 kilometres from the coast—it is hard to believe that it was once an inland sea. Councillor Rob Ievers took the time out to explain many of the exhibits on display at the museum. In fact, Rob and his brother, Ian, are known in the area for their dedication, and the significant fossil find of the Pliosaur on Marathon Station near Richmond in 1989. Rob has been recognised for his contributions to the community, being the recipient of a Centenary Medal in 2001 for his service to the community and as a founding member of the Richmond Fossil Museum. He was the recipient of the Gallery and Museum Association Industry Award in 2008 for his outstanding service as a volunteer to Kronosaurus Korner.

In addition to the exhibition there are opportunities to go out on public dig sites and conduct your own excavations and return to Kronosaurus Korner for identification. While we were there we saw some of the returned exhibits that tourists had brought back to the museum. Rob explained about the many school excursions which come to Richmond to be part of the digs in the area as well. Throughout the tour I was privileged to meet a number of palaeontologists who were assisting the museum’s curator, Paul Stumkat, in identification of fossils.

Currently, Kronosaurus Korner is undergoing renovations to improve what is already considered to be Australia’s most exciting marine fossil display. The museum’s stage one capacity will be increased from 12 displays to 15, allowing for new and exciting finds to be preserved and displayed.

Following the tour of Kronosaurus Korner I was collected by Ross in his horse and buggy and did a few laps up and down the main street. As the day concluded I was fortunate to be given the town tour, with Mayor John Wharton pointing out several sites. The man-made lake was a truly amazing attraction and demonstration of the achievements of the local council. Lake Fred Tritton has a circumference of 1.2 kilometres and a maximum depth of eight metres. The lake is filled with a variety of fish, ranging from barramundi, gulf grunter, sleepy cod, spangled perch and yellow fin. Freshwater prawns and redclaw crayfish are also plentiful. In fact, when we were there overseeing the surrounds on the lake there was a group of local boys who came along hoping to be successful in catching a number of crayfish for their afternoon meals. During the summer months, John tells me, it is not uncommon to see backpackers enjoying the water park in the hot summer sun.

Adjacent to the western side of the lake is the Richmond Community Bush Tucker Gardens, a finalist in the Indigenous category of the 2008 Banksia Environmental Awards. All plants are native to the Richmond region, and information for their traditional purposes is provided.

Finally, just before my charter flight back to Townsville, we dropped into the Lakeview Caravan Park to browse the camp, self-contained cabins and caravan sites. This park is located on the edge of the lake, with spectacular views of the water and surrounds.

I am, like many parliamentarians, limited for time; however, I thoroughly enjoyed the short experience in returning to Richmond to see so many attractions which would make any adventurer want to stay in this area for a number of days. As mentioned earlier, these attractions are complemented by true country hospitality, a firm handshake, a warm smile and interesting conversation. And on the night of the great tradition which Queenslanders enjoy, State of Origin, I know there will be many of Richmond’s residents celebrating another victorious Maroons win.