Coast Action / Coastcare Victoria is running a fantastic summer activities program this year called “Summer By the Sea.” There are loads of fun and educational activities for parents to take the kids along to as part of the program. There’s everything from snorkeling, to rock pool discovery, to checking out life in the estuaries. And most of it is free.

Last Sunday my hubby and I took our 21 month old daughter and nine year old niece along to one of the programs. We ventured out to Kilcunda, after a hurried lunch, for a 12 o’clock start. The activity was called ‘Dinosaur Discovery’ and it more than met up to all of our expectations.

Those taking part met at the beginning of one of the coastal walking tracks. We were greeted by our friendly and informative volunteer guide, Mike. It was a great start to the two hour session, as Mike had a selection of dinosaur fossils and other dinosaur-related out on display upon our arrival. We keenly looked at and handled the samples and took turns finding the dinosaur bones in the fossils. We were also given the opportunity to check out an image of the dinosaur we were going to be searching for. My niece put together a puzzle of what the earth looked like back in the day of the dinosaur, while my young daughter marveled in touching fossils and bones.

By the time we were ready to set off my niece knew we were looking for brownish coloured markings on the rocks, my daughter was saying ‘dino bones,’ and hubby and I had discovered there were once coal mines beneath the very spot we were standing. And so our adventure began.

We hiked down the coastal track to a beautifully rugged rock platform. But rather than merely enjoy climbing amongst the rocks and peering into rock pools, this was something more special. We had only been on the rock platform for a few minutes when our very first dinosaur fossil was located. Without knowing what to look for we would have had no idea what we were looking at. But thankfully the quick intro to fossil finding had paid off. The shape of a leg bone, or something similar, was clearly evident to us all.

Mike’s enthusiasm for the search was also contagious and, after our initial find, we were soon involved in our own personal search for the yet-to-be-discovered. During our question, not only did we learn about the discovery of dinosaurs, but we found out a great deal about the rock platform as well. The coal embedded in rock, the fault line we stepped over and petrified wood from long gone trees, being just a few examples.

Even better than this, we were in luck that day, and two more finds were made under Mark’s expert guidance. One of the fossil samples was cut out of the rock by his quick hand and it felt pretty amazing to be part of something so much bigger than ourselves. It was hard to believe that what we had all found in the rock would be analysed by university scientists and given a place in history.

After a two hour search we headed back up the track, a weary satisfaction remaining with us on our journey home. As we traveled back home we each reflected in our own way on what we had learned and experienced. But all in all we were all agreed that it was a wonderful day.

For those interested, more information can be found at: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au

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