Thursday, October 21, 2021

400-million-year history of Wellington Caves comes to life

The Wellington Caves in the NSW Dubbo region are home to millions of years of history that’s now being brought to life with the official opening of the new Ancient Landscapes Gallery.

The Gallery is set to tell the 400-million-year-old history of the changing landscape of the region. In years past, the Wellington Caves area was covered by ocean, and receding waters eventually uncovered the fascinating caves and some jaw-dropping megafauna fossils.

“We know through palaeontological digs, and decades of research, that megafauna roamed this areas until as recently as 13,000 years ago. The new Ancient Landscapes Megafauna Education Experience at the Wellington Caves will showcase that history, through life-size depictions of megafauna that once roamed this country,” said Dubbo Region Mayor, Stephen Lawrence. 

He said the activity-based exhibition zone will awaken the ancient megafauna while innovatively showcasing fossils found in the Wellington Caves. The permanent exhibition will provide an additional experience to the guided tours of the three caves, with a large interactive collection display room, digital immersive theatre experiences that use augmented reality, projections, lighting and sounds to bring megafauna and ancient landscapes to life.

The Ancient Landscapes Gallery has been co-funded by Dubbo Regional Council (DRC), the NSW Government’s Stronger Country Communities Fund, and the Australian Government’s Drought Communities Program, totalling $700,000.

Member for Dubbo Dugald Saunders says the exhibition adds to the strong offering already available at the Wellington Caves, with the state government providing $400,000 under the Stronger Country Communities Fund.

“The objective of the fund is to help advance projects that will improve the lives of people who live in regional areas. This Ancient Landscapes Gallery will engage young people with interactive, science-based activities that align with school curriculums, and provide a space with opportunities that use different strategies to cater for a range of learning abilities,” said Mr Saunders.

The project also received $250,000 under round two of the Australian Government’s Drought Communities Program (Extension); a $301 million funding package available for councils directly affected by drought.

Federal Member, Andrew Gee said investing in tourism is vitally important in the current economic climate.

“The Central West has done battle with drought, local bushfires, floods and now the mice plague. While thankfully drought conditions have improved across much of the state, it is important we invest in regional cities, towns and villages to speed up drought recovery efforts,” he said.

“This new exhibition at the Wellington Caves not only tells the story of ancient species which roamed across the region, its construction provides a boost to local employment, while providing the region with an amazing exhibit that’ll encourage more and more people to explore this local wonder.”

A number of local contractors were engaged to complete the work, including Bond Constructions, Switch Electrical and Data Installation and Darlington Plastering. The Ancient Landscapes Gallery and Megafauna Exhibition is now open to the public, seven days a week, located at the Wellington Caves Visitor Experience Centre near Wellington.

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