Construction is underway at South Australia’s newest national park, to create a spectacular new $3.3 million fossil experience in the northern Flinders Ranges.
Scheduled to open in 2022, Nilpena Ediacara National Park is home to the world’s best example of the Ediacaran explosion of life, when the earliest forms of complex multicellular animal life evolved.
The site plays a crucial part in the proposed nomination of the Flinders Ranges for World Heritage Listing for its unparalleled story of the dawn of animal life on Earth.
South Australian contractors G-Force Building and Consulting have begun the reconstruction of the Nilpena Blacksmith’s Shop, where one of Nilpena’s most superbly preserved beds, known as Alice’s Restaurant Bed, will be displayed.
The fossil bed was unearthed in 2016 by world leading palaeontologist Dr Mary Droser and her team from the University of California, Riverside. The bed is a window into the living seafloor, with many Ediacaran fossils including newly described species.
Construction of the fossil trail is also underway by Environmental & Trail Services, which is a class two, accessible trail, with all work undertaken on the trail being overseen by the project palaeontologist to prevent any possible harm to fossiliferous material, fossil beds and adjacent areas of paleontological value.
Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said the fossil site at Nilpena is arguably the richest Ediacaran fossil site in the world.
“The works being done will turn this new national park into a ‘must-see’ destination for tourists, researchers and educators alike, attracting visitors from all over Australia and from across the world, when international travel resumes,” Minister Speirs said.
“The new facilities will further protect these globally significant fossils and build upon the Marshall Liberal Government’s record investment in our national parks to improve conservation, boost nature-based tourism and create jobs across the state.
“At the former Blacksmith’s Shop visitors will have the opportunity to view Nilpena’s most significant discovery – Alice’s Restaurant Bed, with state-of-the-art audio-visual technology and lighting currently being developed by Sandpit Media to ensure the best possible viewing experience.
“There will also be trail upgrades carefully integrated in the fossil fields to ensure sustainable access to key viewing sites, with accessibility a key element to its design to ensure visitors of all mobility types will be able to experience the unique attraction.
“It will continue to showcase South Australia’s unique landscape and cultural heritage as a world-class eco-tourism destination, as well as being a key location for the film industry. National parks are essential spaces to enjoy nature in all its forms and provide South Australians with a wide range of environmental, social and economic benefits.”
G-Force Building and Consulting Director Paul Glassenbury said he was very excited for the company to continue their involvement in this project after their successful completion of the entrance wall.
“Heritage projects are one of our passions and being able to use our skills and work with the Department for Environment and Water and Hosking Willis Architecture on this terrific project is something we look forward to,” Mr Glassenbury said.
“We find Nilpena to be a unique and exciting site with excellent potential for increasing visitor numbers to the Flinders Ranges region and we believe the completed project will provide a terrific centrepiece for the local tourism industry and community in general.”
The works at Nilpena Ediacara National Park are being delivered by the Marshall Liberal Government with funding support from the Morrison Coalition Government and the Flinders Ranges Ediacara Foundation.
Nilpena Ediacara National Park is currently closed to the public while work on the new visitor and research precinct and fossil site is completed. Once open, visitors will be required to take an organised guided tour to gain access to ensure the fossils are protected.
The park is located on the traditional lands of the Adnyamathanha people on the western fringes of the Flinders Ranges.
Find out more www.parks.sa.gov.au/park-management/nilpena-ediacara