Minerama set to be education resource

Fascinating: This year's University of New England paleontology display is sowing the seed for Minerama to become a must-see education site for the region.
Fascinating: This year's University of New England paleontology display is sowing the seed for Minerama to become a must-see education site for the region.

When Glen Innes Severn Council tourism and event manager Peter Teschner approached the University of Armidale about being involved in this year’s Minerama festival staff jumped at the opportunity, and visitors to the event will be the beneficiaries.

PhD students and lecturers from the university’s paleontology, geoscience and earth history disciplines will be on hand from 11am-noon and 2-3pm on Friday and Saturday of the festival, to share their passion for uncovering and exploring our world’s natural history.

On display in the Glen Innes and District Services Club boardroom will be 50 items from various digs, each with their own story to tell. The display will includes skeleton parts from an ancient three-tonne wombat, a megafauna Diprotodon optatum from the Pleistocene era of Australia which were around 3.8m long and 1.7m at the shoulder.

The university’s discovery bus will also be onsite, packed with more information to tempt visitors to delve more deeply into what lies beneath our feet.

Volunteers will man the exhibit between the sessions with the experts, but Mr Teschner is encouraging schools and parents to bring along students to take advantage of this resource being in Glen Innes for the first time.

It all came about as the result of surveys conducted by Southern Cross University which indicated an interest in expanding the festival with more attractions for younger visitors. Mr Teschner hopes this new display and facility will grow the festival into becoming an important education resource for the region.

He would like to see the displays spill into the town hall and CBD to spread the festival throughout the town, and make it a must-see annual resource centre for all those in the New England/North West region involved and interested in the industry.

Mr Teschner was surprised to learn that the people from the university were already regular visitors to the festival and know it well, coming each year to check out all the attractions. Through their display and discovery bus they will also be tempting future paleontologists into the courses offered at the university, and sharing their experience of studying this intriguing area of science.

They might even be among the 260 people who have already prebooked their excursions on the nine fossicking field trips associated with the festival, and Mr Teschner said he is very grateful to the property owners for making the field trips possible. The numbers are a huge increase on previous years’ figures.

The festival runs March 10, 11 and 12 at the Services Club and behind the club on King George Oval.

Entry is free.