Riversleigh Interpretive D-Site Cave entry- Artificial Rock

Riversleigh world heritage fossil D site

Building the Riversleigh D-Site Shelter – North Queensland – Australia

In approximately 2002 the Oligocene fossil site at Riversleigh, 350 km NW of Mt Isa was declared a World Heritage Site. To celebrate one of the most famous specific sites, being D-Site, Dr Michael Archer representing the world heritage committee asked David Joffe, an ex-QLD Museum preparator and his team from Natureworks Pty Ltd to design and build an interpretive shelter on this remote site to bring back to life two of the most significant creatures of this unique region being a giant terrestrial crocodile and a giant flightless bird. The site itself was only accessible during the dry season.

 In 2003, over a three-month period, a three-man team from the company camped on-site and undertook the construction of a large rock cave to house a prefabricated 3d reconstruction in bas relief, bringing back to life a moment in time 20 million years ago when this giant crocodile may have attacked the giant bird.  There were no shops within 350kms. All materials were brought in along with generators tools, sand, steel, cement, and all supplies.  A composting toilet was installed for the touring public as part of the interpretive shelter which itself appeared to be a breakaway giant boulder of limestone which had rolled down from the surrounding escarpment. This man-made boulder/building was fabricated in steel, sand and cement and sculpted to appear to be one of the remnant fossil boulders. The logistics of building a structure this complex in such a hot remote region tested the company to its limits.

Future on-site work

In May 2022, Natureworks has been asked to revisit the site to undertake further modifications to the structure for QLD National Parks and Wildlife Service. The site is still as remote now as it was back then in 2002.

Custom made giant prehistoric bas relief

Natureworks handcrafted a unique bas relief designed to recapture a moment back in time, where a giant prehistoric bird is being attached by a land-dwelling giant crocodile.

This interpretive rock wall display has been displayed at the Riversleigh fossil centre 390km N.W of Mount Isa.

A smaller bronze plaque was inspired by the artist “Dunphy” depicting a megafauna swamp scene. This was also created at the Natureworks site and shipped to the D-Site for installation and also morphed into the internal cave walls of the man-made concrete limestone structure


Project details

Client:National Parks & Wold Heritage Org
Location:Riversleigh World Heritage Fossil D site – Lawn Hill gorge
Related products:Artificial caves & rockwork, Murals & Bas Relief
Related catalogues:Natureworks 40 Year History,
Similar projects:Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Woolongong University, Gumbuya Wildlife Park Critter Cave

Looking to create a cave structure, 3D wall relief, megafauna exhibit or interpretive & education experiences?

With our incredible range of megafauna sculptures, artificial caves, artificial rocks and 3D Bas Relief we can create a wide variety of natural habitats, and exhibits.

Please contact Natureworks to discuss custom projects.

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