Riversleigh Field Trip 2016 – The 40th Anniversary

The first ever Riversleigh field trip started in 1976. This year’s 40th anniversary Riversleigh field trip was held between Thu 30th June and Sat 9th July.

Bogans in the south. Image borrowed from Tharunka @ UNSWAs usual, the teams from the University of New South Wales and University of Melbourne plus the many volunteers from Sydney, Canberra, Queensland, Tasmania and New Zealand converged at Adels Grove to unearth prehistoric life in the Riversleigh World Heritage Area. We even had a Bogan volunteer from the (Sutherland) Shire – see map on the right.

Participants this year were:

  • UNSW – Camilo Lopez Aguirre, Michael Archer, Corey Bennetts, Joshua Bergmark (with Shahaf and Max), Karen Black, Andrea Cormack, Anna Gillespie, Sue Hand, Emily Hull, Bok Khoo, Shaun Laffan (with Pip, Maya and Frances), Jonathan Liu, Naomi Machin, Troy Myers (Mummy and Daddy visited), Michael Stein, James Strong and Laura Wilson
  • University of Melbourne – John Hellstrom, Kale Sniderman and Jon Woodhead
  • Sydney – Kirsten Crosby (with Edward “Toy” Thorp, Bridie & Miles), Robert Lohr, Arthur White and Karen White
  • The Shire – Bogan Andrew Guess
  • Canberra – Phil Creaser and Geoff Burchfield
  • Queensland – Chris Larkin, Alan Rackham, Kerry Rackham, Dale Rackham, Kerry’s Aunt Wilmar, John Prince and Davin the helicopter pilot
  • Tasmania – Lizard (Chris) Cannell
  • NZ – Uncle Rick Arena
  • US – Kerry Archer, Maureen and Judy, with Ingrid from Western Australia.

Briefing At Adels Grove

The next six photos are from the first day briefing at Adels Grove.

L to R: Shaun, John H, Geoff, James, Sue, Judy, Kerry’s friend, Joshua, Shahaf and Max, Michael A, Phil and Robert.


L to R: Emily, Naomi, Andrea, Camilo, Jonathan, Michael S, Karen W, Kerry R, Arthur, Aunt Wilmar, Dale, Kale, Jon, Pip, Shaun, Joshua, Shahaf and Max.


L to R: Michael A, Robert, Troy’s Dad and Mum, Kerry A, Bogan Andrew, Emily, Naomi, Andrea, Camilo, Jonathan, Michael S, Karen W, Kerry R, Arthur, Aunt Wilmar, Dale, Pip, Sue, Judy, Kerry A’s friend, Joshua, Shahaf and Max.


L to R: Maya, Aunt Wilmar, Arthur, Kale, Jon and John P.


L to R: James, Sue, Judy, Ingrid, Joshua, Shahaf and Max, Michael A, Phil and Robert.




Not present in the photos above: Karen B, Uncle Rick, Laura, Lizard and Chris but they are in the photos below. Not present in any photos: Kirsten Crosby and family.

I went out on the first day with the team to clear a route to Blake and Evan’s Playground (BEP) found by Karen W in the previous year. Below is a photo of the limestone pancakes sandwiching the chert layers formed 600 million years ago.


Below are cave pearls formed in the shallow pools within the limestone caves that have now collapsed exposing the rocks formed within the caves.


Below is the first mammal tooth found at BEP, attached to a large limestone rock. This was a good find as the search party last year only found turtle, crocodile and big bird (see below) bones at BEP.


Below is the mammal tooth now separated from the large limestone rock using the cordless drill with the plug and feathers (see below).


Troy brought along an portable hand-pumped expresso coffee machine.


Below is the tarsometatarsus (lower leg bone) from The Demon Duck of Doom, measuring more than a meter long. This bird would have been between 3 or 4 metres in height.


Below are some bush cucumbers collected by Dale.


Circled below is a straw-like bat bone.


Naomi drilling a hole to split the rock from Bok’s Cordless Triump (BCT). Already extracted from this rock in the previous year are two marsupial skulls and some jaws.


After the drilling and splitting of the remaining BTC rock, Naomi decided that she only need a tiny piece of rock for her sampling.


Below as the pelvis of Melvis.


Naomi drilling at LD94 (a site found in 1994).


Shaun drilling.


Michael drilling.


Emily drilling.


Michael tapping in the plug (chisel) between the feathers (shims) to split the rock at LD94.


Camilo drilling.


Andrea drilling.


Andrea tapping in the plug.


Andrea and Michael S tapping the plug.


The results from the plug and feathers at LD94. Nice bone exposed.


Lizard and Chris blasted the rocks at LD94. Here we have Karen, Lizard, Chris and Troy in deep discussion – what do hands on the hips mean?


More bones exposed.


Two tooth rows seeing sunlight for the first time in millions of years.


Another tooth row from LD94.


A tooth and a bone on the exposed rock surface at LD94.


The rocks from LD94 were airlifted to the Hiatus parking area for transportation back to Adels Grove on the vehicles. The rocks were packed at the end of the trip, and Alan will organise the transportation of these rocks back to UNSW in a few months.


We experienced around 9 blown tyres on this field trip.


The students at the Big Tie Up.


Some nice bat bones near Dunsinane.


A fossilised piece of wood from Dunsinane. Normally bones don’t preserve well in environments that fossilise plant materials.


Robert demonstrating that you can start a fire using camera lenses.


Below is a core drilled out from limestone material in a cave. This material will allow the researchers to estimate the environmental temperature and moisture over the past thousands of years.


Troy was practising for a change in career to pistachio nut shells art, to be sold to tourist at Paddy’s Market in Sydney.


And here is a zoomed-in view, but the low-light conditions resulted in blurry faces. L to R: Michael S, Bok, ?, ?, Uncle Rick.


Here is a nice split rock from Kitty Kitty Coo Coo (KKCC).


I found the Bokky McBokFace site 12 metres away from KKCC.


Below is a wynardiid tooth row from White Hunter, originally found by Alan Rackham in the 90’s.


Alan has now produced a few books of original country music.


A bat skull and some bones from a cave.


Singing Kumbaya around the campfire.


The next 3 photos are the celebration dinner at the end of our 40th anniversary field trip in Mount Isa. L to R: Michael S, Naomi, Emily, Jonathan, Corey, Camilo,  Bogan Andrew, Robert, James, Troy, Uncle Rick and Rod who runs Adels Grove.


L to R: Geoff, Sue, Robert, Bok, Michael A, Alan, Aunt Wilmar, Kerry R, Laura, Michael S.


L to R: Uncle Rick, Rod and Michelle who run Adels Grove, Arthur.


L to R: Aunt Wilmar, Kerry R, Laura, Michael, Naomi, Emily, Jonathan, Corey, Camilo and Bogan Andrew.


And the celebration continued at the Red Earth hotel in Mount Isa. L to R: Emily, Laura, Troy, Naomi, Jonathan, Camilo, Kerry R, Corey and Bogan Andrew.


Bogan Andrew with Uncle Rick looking pretty happy with this years field trip.


We visited the lab at the Outback museum in Mount Isa. Pictured are some giant Matsoiid snake vertebra in chocolate, vanilla, cream and rocky road.



This entry was posted in Palaeontology and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply