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Megafauna sculpture to take visitors back in time

February 18, 2014 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

The Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association (AMRTA) is taking visitors back in time with the creation of a unique sculpture of a zygomaturus, to be placed at Mammoth Cave as a celebration of the cave’s rich fossil history.
Mammoth Cave was the first [cave] megafauna fossil site found in Western Australia, and is one of the most important paleontological sites in Australia.

Megafauna roamed the southwest of Australia over 40,000 years ago and were mainly marsupials, however monotremes (egg laying mammals), birds and reptiles were also represented.

Twenty-two individuals of the species zygomaturus trilobus – a giant extinct wombat-like creature, about size of a cow and with pouch like a kangaroo – were found in Mammoth Cave.

The sculpture is being crafted by one of the AMRTA’s own staff members, Alan Meyburgh – a talented self-taught sculptor who also works as a cave guide.

Mr Meyburgh is crafting the sculpture from cement, with a formwork of polystyrene. The sculpture will weigh approximately 250kg and be the size of a large cow.

It has taken Mr Meyburgh a full month to create the piece, which is almost complete.

Mr Meyburgh advised that he had always wanted to create a piece like the zygomaturus, to link his art with his love for the outdoors and the natural environment of the Margaret River Region.

“This piece brings me back to where I originally started as an artist – a natural piece which really links with my lifestyle, as someone who loves the outdoors,” said Mr Meyburgh.

“I have done a lot of research on megafauna and the caves of this region, and I would have loved to have actually come across a zygomaturus – so to be able to represent them to the world is such an amazing thing.

“For me as a sculptor, the planning and preparation is the crucial part, you need to get your proportions right – the form and foundations are very important. The sculpting is the fun part!” he said.

Chief Executive Officer, Pip Close, advised that the sculpture would help to bring to life the unique story of Mammoth Cave.

“This full-sized zygomaturus sculpture will help people to visualise the size and uniqueness of megafauna. The aim is for people to leave the site with a comprehensive understanding of what incredible animals megafauna were and how important the cave is in having preserved this natural heritage,” said Ms Close.

“Eventually, we would like to have a series of megafauna sculptures on display in the natural environment outside the cave entry, with interpretations on the railings.

“That way, people enter the cave with an understanding of what these creatures were, and once they hear on the audio guide about the fossils found in the cave they get a true understanding of how important the cave is as a time capsule,” she said.

Mr Meyburgh said he looked forward to the opportunity to create more megafauna sculptures for display at the cave.

“This project has been so real and authentic and such a good fit for me as an artist – all the people I have worked with have been fantastic,” he said.

Ms Close advised that visitors can head down to CaveWorks at Lake Cave this week to see the final stages of the sculpting in action.

“Although the sculpture will eventually be moved to Mammoth Cave, Alan will be sculpting at Lake Cave each day this week from 10am – 3:30pm, so the general public are more than welcome to head down and see him in action,” said Ms Close.

The new Lake Cave Events Deck offers a spectacular view over the doline, and tours of Lake Caverun on the half hour every hour from 9:30am – 3:30pm. Mammoth Cave is self-guided and is open from 9am – 4pm.  More information can be found at www.margaretriver.com.

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