5 April 2023

For the most raptor-ous birthday in town, this one's dino-mite

| Sally Hopman
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Woman with head through dinosaur's mouthh

New general manager of the National Dinosaur Museum Carole Arulantu gets up close and very personal with one of the dinosaur displays at Gold Creek. Photos: Sally Hopman.

In dinosaur years, turning 30 might not be the biggest birthday, but when you’re home to more than 60 of the giant reptiles, at a total age of a few billion years, how could you not have the biggest of bashes?

This Saturday (8 April), one of Canberra’s top tourist attractions, the National Dinosaur Museum, turns 30. Independently owned and operated, it is currently enjoying a growth spurt with a new general manager at the helm, Carole Arulantu.

Originally from Malaysia, Carole said as a young Canberra mother, she would bring her daughter Cinnamone to the museum when she was a youngster – “we both loved it” and “to think now, I’m the boss – I love it”. Today, Cinnamone is 24.

“I remember when this job came up,” she said.

“I always talk to my daughter about big decisions. I had applied for jobs at lots of places, but I was weighing up what was best for us, so we decided it had to be lifestyle. That’s why I came here.”

Woman with giant dinosaurs

New National Dinosaur Museum general manager Carole Arulantu has great plans for the museum’s 30th birthday on April 8.

She lives nearby, which is handy considering she is working long hours, learning how the museum operates and, of course, as much as she can about its permanent residents.

Until recently, Carole did most of the jobs herself, with only a small support staff, many of whom were casuals. But she has grand plans for the popular tourist destination and is hopeful of more good people joining her team soon.

After working throughout Australia and overseas, mainly in the entertainment and marketing fields, to say nothing of her clear passion for dinosaurs – Carole believes she has found her perfect job.

“How could you not love them?” she said, pointing to the huge dinosaur replicas that inhabit the museum, inside and out.

READ ALSO Meet ‘Cooper’: Australia’s biggest dinosaur joins national collection at museum

Her most recent job, in event management at the Canberra Theatre Centre, and other positions have given her what she believes is an excellent grounding for running the dinosaur museum.

She knew she was in the right job when not only did she arrive on day one, but so did a 40-foot container with a neck, legs, arms and body of rather big bloke called Cooper – or if you’d prefer his formal name, Australotitan cooperensis. The original Cooper was discovered in 2005 in southwest Queensland in ‘Cooper Country’. Assembled, Cooper weighs in at about 800 kg, is 16 metres long and 3 metres tall.

In other jobs, she said, when you open large containers, you might find the remains of old rock stars, she joked, or at least their equipment. The containers at the dinosaur museum were much less trouble, she said. They didn’t need feeding nor argue with management.

Like many dinosaurs, their specifications are sent to Asia where specialist companies create them in fibreglass or other material and then their parts are sent back to Australia where they are reassembled at the museum. Carole said it can take up to a day to put them together correctly.

“I am so excited about coming to work here,” she said. “I see the main part of my job is to bring more people here to see the amazing collection we have.

“There’s just something about dinosaurs that everyone loves. They’re not something to be afraid of. They’re wonderful creatures. I’m really keen to bring more people here, more children and older people, particularly in the lead-up to the 30th birthday.”

Dinosaur poo

Not only are the dinosaurs life-like at the Gold Creek museum, but so is what monsters like Cooper leave in their wake.

According to Carole, when you’re celebrating the lives of monster-size reptiles (or at least very good fibreglass copies), you have to go big or go home.

She’s planned a full day of fun for the birthday, ranging from special tours of the complex to dinosaur encounters, workshops, fossil talks, craft activities and, for adults later in the evening, a Dirty 30 event which includes a tour of the upstairs garden and a glass of bubbly.

For more information and bookings for the National Dinosaur Museum’s 30th birthday celebrations on 8 April, visit the website.

Original Article published by Sally Hopman on Riotact.

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