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National Dinosaur Museum, ACT

Home > Canberra > Family | Fun for Children | Kids | Museums | Places of Interest
by Anita Coia (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Melbourne, curious about everything, usually making a living via corporate communications. Visit my LinkedIn profile at au.linkedin.com/in/anitacoia
Published March 26th 2015
Jurassic Park has nothing on this place
National Dinosaur Museum
Come and be eyeballed by the dinosaurs


Most kids love dinosaurs, right? There's no doubt about that. Just take a look at kids clothes and toys; dinosaurs are a common theme. And it's not just kids that love dinosaurs; lots of adults do too (including me). So (most) kids and adults are going to love this place - the National Dinosaur Museum.



Located in Canberra, the National Dinosaur Museum is chock full of great dinosaur material to satisfy everyone from lightweight dino-lovers (Jurassic Park fans) to hard-core dino history and science lovers.



The museum claims to be 'the largest permanent display of dinosaur and other prehistoric fossil material in Australia.' I don't know if that's true, but I'd believe it because this place is impressive, and more comprehensive than, say, the Melbourne Museum in terms of this subject matter. Their website says they have 23 complete skeletons, and over 300 displays of individual fossils.



If you are someone who really knows their dinosaurs, you can check the 'Exhibits' page on their website to find out exactly what critters are on display.

I think that's what my family liked so much about this place - the people who run it clearly love what they do, and strive to make the museum entertaining and educational.

National Dinosaur Museum
Making an impressive new friend


The first sight you get when you arrive is the dinosaur garden, a veritable cornucopia of dinosaur critters. You can wander around the garden for free, as the museum's entry fee only applies for the indoor exhibits.

Even the bins outside fit with the overall theme!

National Dinosaur Museum
Some dinos will eat any old rubbish


National Dinosaur Museum
Come and play in the dinosaur garden


Be warned though: the dinosaurs posing in the garden are quite large and realistic, so some younger children might not be all that keen to hang around. My two-year old son pulled the sun shade of his pram down over his head so that he couldn't see the dinosaurs and they couldn't see him, and stayed that way for much of our visit.

Most of the dinosaur statues are not really that threatening, but there are a few that are ultra-realistic, like the dinosaur that is being attacked by a gang of three raptors, which are pulling pieces of 'flesh' from its body.

National Dinosaur Museum
This won't end well...


Here are a few pictures from the garden to give you a bit of a taste:





National Dinosaur Museum
Lots of petrified wood outside, and who can blame it?


The garden includes a nice deck area if you want to sit and enjoy the view. The deck has a great little 'archeological site' sandpit for the kids, where they can uncover a piece of dinosaur history.

National Dinosaur Museum
The deck is a nice place to have a bit of a break


National Dinosaur Museum
Kids can do their own discovery in the archaeology sandpit


Once you've had your fill of the dinosaur garden, it's time to head inside. You can do this via the regular way (steps or a ramp, catering for prams and wheelchairs), OR, even better, enter through the T-rex mouth. Watch your head on the teeth!

National Dinosaur Museum
The toothy entry


A lovely aspect of the museum is their generosity of spirit. They allow visitors to take photos and video throughout the displays, and seem to want to share their enthusiasm about their subject matter. The displays are very engaging and well designed for children, and they have provided lots of opportunities for interaction with specific displays.

National Dinosaur Museum
How refreshing - photos allowed!


National Dinosaur Museum
Everyone is welcomed with open arms


The main area of the museum is upstairs, where the displays are located. Downstairs is the entry, a kids play area, and the museum shop. You need to pay the entry fee to get into the kids play area, but not for the shop. You then access the upstairs display either via the main staircase, or via an elevator behind the entry desk (accessed through the shop), so prams and wheelchairs are catered for.

National Dinosaur Museum
It's a veritable wonderland of all things prehistoric


Upstairs, you won't be disappointed. There is a great variety of displays that are ordered by time period, and wherever possible the information includes Australian content.

The displays include animatronics (T-rex included, of course; my son wasn't happy), actual fossils and skeletons, 'hands on' displays that can be touched, and lots of explanatory information that is a great balance of informative and entertaining. However, they never tip the balance into cheap thrills; they don't need to. Here are some samples of what you will see, and believe me I had to really cull my photos to get this selection, there is so much to look at.

National Dinosaur Museum
Beastie!


National Dinosaur Museum
More fossils than you could poke an archaeologist's mallet at


National Dinosaur Museum
Touch a replica Stegosaurus scale and learn about its structure


National Dinosaur Museum
My mastodon tusk is bigger than yours...


National Dinosaur Museum
Get hands on with a meteorite


National Dinosaur Museum
Exhibits are both informative and entertaining, and include Australian content


National Dinosaur Museum
Reign of the dinosaurs




National Dinosaur Museum
The animatronic T-rex and friends




When you are finally full to the brim of prehistory, you should definitely check out the shop, which they claim (and I'm sure is) the largest stock of dinosaur products. Jewellery, toys, crystals, science sets, puzzles, t-shirts, books, models, magazines, posters, and much much more. I was lucky to get out with my purse only a little bit lightened, as my daughter could have easily carted home half the shop's contents.

National Dinosaur Museum
Mum, please can I have...?!


Verdict (if you couldn't already tell) - the National Dinosaur Museum is a great way to spend a couple of hours with a family, particularly primary school aged children. Highly recommended and great value!

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Why? Get up close and personal with prehistory
When: 10am-5pm, every day except Christmas Day
Phone: (02) 6230 2655
Where: Gold Creek Road & Barton Highway, Nicholls ACT 2913
Cost: Kids under 4 free, Kids $9.90, Concession $11, Adults $15, Family $42
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