The National Dinosaur Museum keeps close contacts with other similar museums in the region, and today we went on a radio trip to call in and visit the fine folks at Canowindra’s Age of Fishes museum, Bathurst’s the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum, Somerville Fossil Collection, and finally the Wellington Caves.
Heading out into rural NSW on a hot 36 °C (97 °F) day, we drove through Cowra, a region where the armoured placoderm fish, Cowralepis, was unearthed in Devonian rocks. The museum is fortunate enough to have a number of these unusual fossils on display, so it was great to see the location where they came from.
After our meeting with the great staff at the Age of Fishes (more about this later), we headed for Bathurst, but found ourselves somehow closer to Wellington.
Deciding to visit there first, then the Bathurst museum on the way home, we headed north and were soon driving through a strange landscape of sunburnt grasses covering rolling hills, with very little traffic on the roads- one of the bonuses of heading anywhere on a weekday.
We soon drove through a small town, Molong, and on the other side began noticing large, weathered boulders crowning a number of hills. These boulders looked a lot like limestone- a renowned fossiliferous rock, so when some of these rocks appeared on the roadside of the barbed wire fences we’d been driving beside since leaving the town, we all agreed it was time to get out and have a look.
Parking the car under the nearest tree to keep the thing out of the sun, the staff began inspecting the closest rocks. These were mostly human sized boulders (at least, they may have been, they were partially buried), made up of a very hard,
grey rock. Though most had plain rock faces (there were a few interesting inclusions), we soon came across a large limestone boulder of a lighter colour. Here, we struck pay dirt.
This boulder was not only full of corals and shards of shell, there was a great layer of bryozoans- a marine creature that lives in colonies and resembles coral, though they’re not actually corals.
Sadly, this rock was far too large to place in the car and bring back to the museum, so we locked in the location on the GPS and will be heading back out some time soon to pick up the piece and put it on display at the NDM…so keep an eye out for that.
Time was short, so we bundled back into the car and were on the road and heading for the Wellington Caves, which will be covered in following articles.
I will point out that on our return we did a little investigating, and the location were we found the limestone rocks seems to have been a large reef system during the Silurian- hopefully we will learn more once we bring the rock back.