Kronosaurus Korner’s Rob Ievers reflects as Richmond’s dinosaur museum goes digital – ABC News

Outback Queensland grazier Rob Ievers was 20 years old when he and his brother found the fossil of a prehistoric marine reptile, sparking a career he never knew he would have.

Although he and his siblings had often handed the small fish fossils they found as kids in to the Queensland Museum, Mr Ievers said the discovery of the plesiosaur made him realise that a tourism opportunity that was going begging in the state’s north-west.

So Mr Ievers decided to juggle life on the land while he helped to found the Kronosaurus Korner museum in Richmond.

“I’m not a palaeontologist and I don’t pretend to be one,” he said.

“But I have a little bit of a knack of knowing a bit about tourism and how it works.

“We were able to put together a museum that today attracts tens of thousands of people.

The museum’s plesiosaur specimen was discovered in a dry creek bed in 1989 by Mr Ievers and his brother, Ian, while they were out moving cattle.(Supplied: Kronosaurus Korner)

Making bones about it

Mr Ievers said there had been plenty of hurdles to clear since his lifechanging discovery in 1989 and the opening of the museum in 1995.

“I don’t know how many times [Mayor John Wharton] and I flew to Brisbane arguing for funding and going to the Queensland Museum itself and saying ‘Hi, we don’t want to send real fossils down to you guys — we want to keep them in Richmond,'” he said.

An photo of the Kronosaurus Korner museum as it began. The museums boasts original fossils with very few casts.(Supplied: Kronosaurus Korner)

Mr Ievers said many visitors were surprised to learn that the museum – which displays real fossils, rather than casts – had a fulltime curator and did prep work to the same standard as the Queensland Museum.

“The Queensland Museum in Brisbane has actually asked whether or not we will be prepared to do some prep work for them,” he said.

“At the end of the day we were very successful because we have fossils and all the scientific works done here, and many we find on local properties.”

A photo from the early 2000s of Rob Ievers leading a tour group through the museum. It has since seen many upgrades.(Supplied: Kronosaurus Korner)

One of a kind

One local find turned out to be much more than Mr Ievers ever anticipated when Mount Isa-based researcher and PhD candidate Lucy Leahey, from the University of Queensland, realised it was the only one of its type in the world.

“This dinosaur, dare I say it, has been even more valuable and scientifically more important than what the pliosaur was,” Mr Ievers said.

“It was [first classified as] Minmi paravertebra, but since that time an extremely bright young lady, Lucy Leahey, has looked at that fossil in a different manner.

“And what’s she done with that thing is amazing — today we know the name of that has been changed to Kunbarrasaurus ieversi.

“There is no another one, and it’s all thanks to the hours, the study and the dedication that Lucy Leahey has put into that fossil that we came to find that.”

Visitors are welcomed to Richmond by this replica of a Kronosaurus at Kronosaurus Korner.(ABC North West Queensland: Kathleen Calderwood)

Richmond unearthed

Mr Ievers said the difference between Richmond 20 years ago to now was surprising even to him.

“I’ve seen the days where people would pull up at the service station for a hamburger and to fill up with fuel, and there was no real reason to stop,” he said.

Part of the gallery at Kronosaurus Korner in Richmond photographed in 2015.(ABC North West Queensland: Kathleen Calderwood)

“Today that caravan park has been extended three times or something, we’ve got the museum and the free fossicking sites and the lake.

“It’s about getting people to your town, not for one night, but getting them to stay in your caravan for two, three, four nights, and in some cases a week.”

The museum has now launched an app, voiced by Mr Ievers, that gives people from all over the world the chance to visit the museum virtually.