The dinosaurs are having a rest - make way for the megafauna.
The Australian National Botanic Gardens is right out of the gate for the school holidays, installing a host of new beasts around its grounds for children and adults to explore.
The MEGAfauna: Once there were giants! adventure trail is the biggest event the gardens have put on since coronavirus started to put restrictions on gatherings last year.
Event organiser Megan Donaldson said it was a Covid-safe event, out in the open, with plenty of space for everyone and perfect for a picnic in between the exploring. A coffee cart will be close by.
The first of its kind in Australia, the megafauna trail showcases giant replicas of animals that became extinct thousands of years ago.
Wombat-like creatures the size of hippos, flightless birds that weighed twice as much as modern emus, a turtle with a horned head and spiked tail, an enormous goanna the size of a small dinosaur, plus many more will be on show.
Ms Donaldson said the megafauna were alive as far back as two million years ago and as recently as 11,000 years ago. Environmental changes caused them to die out. Cassowaries, crocodiles and goannas are some of the surviving species of megafauna.
"The animals that lived back then were very different to the ones we see today. They were some of the most remarkable creatures to ever roam the earth and exclusive to Australia," she said.
"Many of the plants that co-evolved and/or were eaten by the megafauna still exist and those plants only makes sense with megafauna to help tell their stories."
The gardens own the massive displays, which number about 14. They will rotate during the year with the dinosaurs which otherwise roam the grounds.
The gardens is undergoing some construction work at the moment, away from the displays, including an extended deck at the cafe, which will be open in July.
To coincide with the MEGAfauna trail, the gardens will also host a special exhibition featuring original large-scale paintings of Australia's megafauna by wildlife artist, author and paleontological illustrator, Peter Schouten. It will be in the Visitor Centre Gallery.
MegaFAUNA: Once there were giants! opens at the Australian National Botanic Gardens on Saturday and continues until July 25
The gardens are in Clunies Ross Street, Acton and open 8.30am to 5pm daily. Entry is free.
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