Western Queensland sheep producer David Elliott has been honoured as Australia’s Local Hero in the 2024 Australia Day Awards for his work as the owner-operator of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History which has led the way in outback tourism.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese presented the 2024 Australia Day awards including Australians of the Year and Senior Australian of the Year at the National Arboretum in Canberra last night.
David Elliott’s chance discovery of a dinosaur fossil during routine sheep mustering in 1999 led to the revival of Australia’s palaeontology field – and the creation of a palaeo-tourism industry that put outback Queensland on the map.
David Elliott found a dinosaur fossil by chance, while mustering sheep near Winton in 1999. David and his wife Judy founded the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, today a major tourist attraction.
David is the 2024 Local Hero for Queensland. pic.twitter.com/SiZJNMFue0
— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@a_palaszczuk) November 9, 2023
David’s initial fossil discovery was followed by others. As palaeontologists began to return to the region to investigate, David and his wife Judy founded the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History in 2002 as a not-for-profit charity.
The Museum first operated on the couple’s property, where they conducted dinosaur digs and built an impressive collection of fossils. Later, it was moved onto donated land.
Today, it houses Australia’s most significant collection of fossils from the country’s largest dinosaurs. A major tourist attraction, it serves as a centre for Australian paleontological research and discovery in Australia.
David was recognised for his contributions to science with an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 2015.
Queensland Premier Steven Miles said David’s dedication to the revival of Australia’s palaeontology field and creating tourism opportunities for rural Queensland over the last two decades was to be commended.
“Being recognised as Australia’s Local Hero will create more opportunities for Outback Queensland and the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History to reach more visitors.”
For more information on the Australian Age of Dinosaurs click here