Dinosaur’s just child’s play
A DINOSAUR is lurking in an Inverloch neighbourhood, but the local children are far from terrified – in fact, they’re delighted.
A vacant block in Wallace Avenue has been transformed into an attractive park as a result of a community campaign to save the block from development.
The centrepiece is a dinosaur – a sculpture of a Koolasuchus cleelandi, a giant amphibian that roamed between Inverloch and San Remo some 125 million years ago.
The sculpture is surrounded by rocks and gravel, and Bass Coast Shire Council staff will plant reedy grasses to replicate the riverbed setting the amphibian inhabited. Children are now welcome to play on it.
A pathway with dinosaur footprints leads to the sculpture, and picnic tables and seats complete an idyllic setting for families to enjoy.
The park was set aside as public open space to offset the development of nearby Apex Park for units. In 2010, council was keen to sell Wallace Avenue Park, but neighbours stepped in, including Judy Vradenburg.
She was a member of the community group that campaigned for the park to be saved, raised funds and sourced grants to enable the redevelopment to proceed.
“It brings a lot of joy to see kids playing here. That’s why we did it,” she said.
“It would not have happened without the support of the community.”
At five metres, the sculpture is slightly longer than the actual animal, and was made by artist Phil Stray with direction from Lesley Kool, the Wonthaggi fossil preparator who helped reveal bones from the animal found at Inverloch by local geologist Mike Cleeland in 1990.
Koolasuchus cleelandi means ‘Kool’s crocodile’ and also refers to the cool climate in which the amphibian lived – much cooler than it is today.
The replica is accompanied by egg sacs, fashioned from lawn bowls.
“The Koolasuchus’ jaws were really big and apparently it had a flip-top head and just laid in the river bed and waited for something to swim past and snap its jaws close,” Mrs Vradenburg said.
The project was funded by RACV Inverloch Resort ($5000), the State Government ($35,000), former Cr Ross Smith’s discretionary fund ($500), Inverloch Rotary Club ($1000), numerous private donations, Clay Wyhoon ($3000 in-kind labor and donated a fence), and fundraising by the Vradenburgs and the park community group, including by selling sausages at Rotary’s craft markets.
“These pocket parks are so important for the community and this just develops a sense of ownership,” Mrs Vradenburg said.
She and her husband Norman addressed council recently, speaking about ways council could streamline its process of working with communities to make projects eventuate.
The park will be officially opened by council around October.
Inverloch has been known as one of the richest deposits of dinosaur fossils in Australia and the town is starting to capitalise on its prehistoric past.
Inverloch Primary School is expected to bring students to the park to learn about Inverloch’s link with dinosaurs and Mr Cleeland’s dinosaur tours will include a stop in Wallace Avenue.
“Hopefully this will be the start of more dinosaur things around Inverloch,” Mrs Vradenburg said.
The community group thanked council for its support, particularly Cr Jordan Crugnale, Howard Scott, Derek Peters, Hans Kamphuis and Richard Clarkson.
The lower jaws of Koolasuchus cleelandi are displayed in the Melbourne Museum, along with reconstructions of some of the dinosaurs that lived around Inverloch many millions of years ago.
Short URL: /?p=15286