Anyone with a dinosaur obsessed child knows one thing…. the quickest way to their hearts is to find an experience that makes them think they are Indiana Jones on a quest. The biggest problem – here in Oz, dino adventures are pretty limited. We do the natural museums once a month or so, we visited the National Dinosaur Museum in Canberra, we saw Walking with Dinosaurs (the movie and the live show), both on multiple occasions! There is also the holy grail experience – a visit to Winton, home of the Aussie dinosaurs such as Kronosaurus and Muttaburrasaurus, and Lark Quarry Trackways: the original dino highway downunder! You can even play paleontologist up there – but sadly for young dino hunters, you have to be 18 to dig.
A chance to dig puts a sparkle in our dino explorer’s eye, so when we found an activity to dig for something precious on our Gold Coast holiday, we signed up immediately. Off we went to Thunderbird Park – about 30 minutes up in the mountain hinterland behind the Gold Coast near Mount Tamborine. There’s plenty of activities for all the family in the area, antique stores, gourmet ice cream and Devonshire teas, micro breweries, glow worm caves and nature walks. And of course, Thunderbird Park! Here you can have all sorts of fun, adventure activities like high ropes and laser tag, bird watching, and the piece de resistance…. THUNDER EGG FOSSICKING.
Digging up the past. Gold and diamonds rolled into one for a junior paleontologist! A chance to carve the earth in search of treasure. Glory, glory, hallelujah. We went, we listened to the safety talk. We got kitted up (enclosed shoes are a must in case you drop a hard-won nugget of historical delight), and then off we went, up hill and over dale (well, over the gully, through the bush and up the side of the rocky outcrop). Past the most ginormous thunderegg you have ever seen (it’s too big to move)…the inspiration to find our own, smaller precious piece. And so began the great search, digging for round blobs of ancient history.
Thunder eggs are hollow bubbles created when minerals crystallize around a steam bubble in cooling lava. The cooling causes minute cracks to occur, allowing silica-rich minerals to get inside, filling them with quartz, agate, amethyst, jasper and opalite. On the outside they look like boring round rocks. But on the inside is pure beauty. And to a dino hunter, a crystal egg from when dinosaurs roamed is almost like touching a T-Rex.
We fossicked for around 90 minutes, half filling our buckets with work that whilst not chain-gang back-breaking, did allow us to eat a calorie-laden lunch without a second thought! Once back at the site office we waited with bated breath whilst the weird rocks we toiled for were picked over…. our hit rate: around 50% were thunder eggs. Not bad at all! We chose a couple to be cut (a separate cost) and again had the excited wait to see what our eggs contained. We were not disappointed – pretty pinks, maroons and blues were soon glittering before us. Our Indiana Jones Junior was in ecstasy!
You can stay at Thunderbird Park if you would like to take more advantage of the facilities, or like us, meander back through the winding bush roads to Mount Tamborine for a heavenly Dutch lunch at the Dutch Cafe. Try on some wooden clogs if you like! BTW – for any aspiring rally drivers out there – the drive will be your own adventure into happiness!
PS – we just found out you can fossick for dino poop in the US – we are SO going to do that!
Author note – this is a free account of an experience from our annual holiday and is not sponsored in any way. Sharing experiences enriches all!