The Dubbo local government area could be home to 200-year-old dinosaur prints and rare fossils, after plans for a new museum in Gulgong were scrapped.
(min cost $8)
Login or signup to continue reading
A selection of state-of-the-art fossil replicas was set to be displayed in a new $3 million museum planned to be built at Red Hill in Gulgong.
However, the October meeting of Mid-Western Regional Council, councillors were notified of Mr Durrant's withdrawal of participation in the Gulgong Natural History Museum.
As a result, it was resolved to discontinue work on the project and to advise the funding body and community of the decision.
Dubbo Regional Council mayor Mathew Dickerson has confirmed he has expressed interest in picking up where Gulgong left off, and displaying Michael's collection in the Dubbo region.
"It was my interest, I've shared that with councillors and taken it to our staff and asked if they could follow it up and see what we could do with it and we display it," Cr Dickerson said.
Cr Dickerson approached Mid-Western Regional Council to ask in good faith if he could ring Mr Durrant about the collection.
The grant money does not transfer so any plans Dubbo might have in the future would be contingent on alternate funding.
"It seems like a good opportunity and I'd hate it to be lost to the region," Cr Dickerson said.
"But personally, I think it would make a huge amount of sense to have it at the Wellington Caves. We've got a great display of some fossils now. So again, adding to that will just add to the whole exhibition."
The mayor admitted there were "a fair few steps" to go through before anything could be locked in.
The Red Hill location in Gulgong was criticised by a group of opponents across social media, despite a council survey that showed 82.4 per cent of Gulgong locals were in favour of it.
Mr Durant said he faced a raft of criticisms from the small collective of residents who questioned his expertise and legitimacy as a fossil maker and collector.
"I never expected to come across this wall of resistance from a small group of people. I'm very disappointed, I'm sad for all the people in the area that obviously loved what I was going to do and made it clear," he said.
"And now that another town has potentially grabbed it, that'll be great - I'll probably have more people through in a larger center but it's still sad because the council were - with one exception - spectacular in this.
"They worked hard to get this there, to get the money and they saw it as a positive thing and would last for 100 years and I'd bequeath my collection to the town after my death anyway so that it was all going to be there as a permanent attraction to educate people in the area."
Mid-Western Regional Council General Manager Brad Cam told ACM the project cancellation was a dark day for the region.
"It is extremely disappointing, especially when we put in many hours of work with Michael convincing him to come to Gulgong and work with council and for this happen is - in my eyes - very, very disappointing and quite a dark day for us to have to hand back $3 million of grant money," Mr Cam said.
He said the funding was dependant on the museum being constructed at Red Hill.
Mr Cam said he understood why Mr Durant made the decision to withdraw from the planned museum.
"These things have never been discussed and had never been raised when we did the Gulgong Gold Experience. So Michael just felt he couldn't put up with this any longer and couldn't put council through that expense with the likelihood of us not getting a DA approval," he said.
"It's just disappointing that a group of people have been hell-bent on doing whatever they could to destroy his reputation and this project."
Reading this on mobile web? Download our news app. It's faster, easier to read and we'll send you alerts for breaking news as it happens. Download in the Apple Store or Google Play.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.