A few days in Perth City were the last days of our month-long tour of Western Australia. If we learnt anything from our tour of the state, it is that everywhere you go, you get some insight into the geological age of the countryside, of the flora, the fauna as well as, of course the thousands of years of human habitation that occurred before Europeans arrived on these shores. Our trip to the caves of the Margaret River area in particular introduced us to the amazing megafauna that once roamed this land before the first Australians arrived. What child doesn’t love a dragon and since there were no dragon megafauna in Western Australia, why not create statues of the amazing creatures that once roamed the plains of Australia for today’s children to play on and be inspired by. This is what the creators of the May Drive Parkland in Kings Park have done.
The first group of creatures we encountered were three Bullockornis, extinct flightless birds that lived approximately 15 million years ago. Fossils of these stocky creatures were found in Bullock Creek, Northern Territory, and were as large as an ostrich or emu. They share ancestry with ducks and geese and one of their nicknames is the ‘Demon Duck of Doom’, a name which really should be on the information sign next to these big birds!
The next group of megafauna we encountered were two huge Diprotodons lazing contentedly in the sunshine under a tree. We had met some relatives of these characters both at Mammoth Cave and in the main street of Margaret River. These creatures, the size of hippopotamuses, were once found in many places throughout Australia from about 1.6 million years ago until their extinction about 40,000 years ago. This means that the First Australians who had arrived in Terra Australis from Asia had coexisted with these huge creatures for thousands of years. There is cave art in Northern Queensland that may have depicted the Diprotodon. There is a debate amongst Paleontologists whether humanity played a part in their extinction or was it just climate changes that destroyed the environment of these huge ancestors of the Koala and the Wombat. Are Kings Park Children playing on the backs of Bunyips?
The next huge creature we encountered really looks like a dragon but, as the sign nearby said, this creature didn’t breathe fire or eat the flesh of its fellow Cretaceous citizens. It grew to about 8 metres in length, could weigh around 3 tons and was herbivorous. It is called Muttaburrasaurus, named after the town of Muttaburra in Central Queensland where the almost complete fossil was found by a local grazier. Below is the reconstructed Muttaburrasaurus to be found today in the Queensland Museum in Brisbane.
The last creature lurking under the trees of this parkland was the Phytosaur that looks remarkably like a modern Crocodile that we regularly hear of from Cape York, feasting on unwary travellers who impulsively decide to go for a swim in its river territory. However while this creature was predatory, it is not directly related to the Crocodile. It lived beside the lakes and rivers of the world in the late Triassic period of the Earth, over two hundred million years ago.
We probably spent too much of our Kings Park time exploring the megafauna sculptures and the other attractions of the May Drive Parkland. However we weren’t disappointed to have spent quality time in this beautiful and highly educational site for kids and ageing adults alike.