The Queensland Museum, founded in 1862, is the keeper of the state's historical collections dating back to colonial times, with an indigenous and Torres Strait island floor, a sizable hands-on Discovery Centre of historical, cultural and scientific specimens and objects, interactive displays showing the biodiversity – marine and land - throughout the state and the requisite dinosaur zones, indoors and outdoors.
Features of this recently refurbished museum include the "Avian Cirrus", Bert Hinkler's famous tiny Avro Avian biplane that he flew from London to Bundaberg in 1928 in a 128 hour, 15 day stint, which now takes pride of place in the foyer, the poignant installation Ordinary Men: 3 stories of the Victoria Cross (with confronting film footage of World War I, original letters, photographs and the medals themselves) and an expanded Discovery Centre, where children and adults alike can brush up on their zoology, history and geology and get up close and personal with everything from beaked whale skeletons, snake skins and taxidermy Tasmanian devils to precious metals and fossils.
Highlights for children are: the al fresco sponge-floored garden Energex Playosaurus Place, where lifelike statues of a T-Rex and triceratops roam, children run, and a non-stop dance-along dinosaur film plays for the smallest life forms, the Giants of the Past expo on the ground floor featuring a skeleton of the first Queenslander, a dinosaur known as the Muttaburrasaurus (taking its name from the outback town Muttaburra, where its remains were discovered), a replica of the famous Lark Quarry trackway, the 300000 footprint site of the only known dinosaur stampede in the world and an adjacent fenced zone where children themselves can stampede, draw or lie on cushions.
A last highlight to keep an eye out for is the hulking great German Mephisto tank, one of only twenty manufactured and the only World War 1 tank left in existence. It was captured by Australian troops and shipped back to Australia, whereupon it resided for decades outside the old Museum building in the Valley then lived downstairs in the dinosaur garden until it was damaged by the floods. A new home is yet to be determined for it.
Those wanting more can buy a ticket and head downstairs to the Sciencentre, which is now incorporated into the Museum proper, otherwise exit via the eerie whale mall with its suspended life size whales and reverberating primeval cries.
Meanwhile the Museum shop on the way out has a fantastic assortment of cerebral souvenirs, games and gifts for children.