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Published on : Wednesday, May 25, 2016
The eight-million-year-old fossilised remains of giant wombats, crocodiles and flightless birds known collectively as megafauna will have a new lease of life with $3.97 million in Territory Government funding.
Chief Minister and Minister for Tourism, Adam Giles, said Budget 2016 includes $3.97 million to develop visitor amenities at the Alcoota fossil site, about 200km north-east of Alice Springs, and preliminary consultation has begun with traditional owners and will continue.
“This unique site showcases a fascinating era in Australia’s natural history,” Mr Giles said.
“Palaeontologists are increasing our understanding of megafauna and Australia’s climate through excavations and discoveries at Alcoota.
“Existing facilities are basic and undeveloped. The Budget allocation will enable upgrades including a raised boardwalk track, an interpretive shelter for a shaded rest stop and picnic facilities.
“This will enable visitors to safely observe the digging works and to learn about the significance of fossils located at the site.”
Mr Giles said the upgrades would encourage more tourists to visit sites along the Plenty Highway, with spin-off benefits for Alice Springs, Gemtree and national parks in the region.
Arts and Museums Minister Gary Higgins said the Government was investing in infrastructure to deliver growth and opportunities in all industries across the Territory. Mr Higgins said the Chief Minister had personally driven this project from the start, having identified its potential.
“Arts and cultural tourism will become more important, and with an ever-expanding middle class in Asia it presents an incredible opportunity for the Territory,” Mr Higgins said.
“We need to be ready to capitalise on that boom.”
Mr Higgins said the investment would also provide job opportunities for Aboriginal people in the area and deliver broader economic benefits.