Sydney - The task of building a replica of the Titanic would prove enough of a distraction for most people, but businessman Clive Palmer has found time to launch another, colossal tourism project.
The Australian billionaire – who earlier this year commissioned a Chinese shipyard to build a life-size replica of the ill-fated ship – opened his new dinosaur-themed park in Queensland last week.
Palmersaurus has been dubbed the “world’s largest dinosaur park” and claims to bring the Jurassic period back to life.
The park is located at the mining magnate’s Palmer Coolum Resort on the Sunshine Coast and features 160 dinosaurs, which range from 2.5 to 22m in length, and stand up to 10m high.
Many of them are animated with moving limbs and lifelike roars, including Jeff the T-Rex, who stands at 8m high and 20m long.
If being confronted with a full-size T-Rex wasn’t enough to scare visitors, “atmospheric lighting” will be used to illuminate the dinosaurs at night and show them at their “eerie best”.
Palmer Coolum Resort general manager Bill Schoch said: “Palmersaurus will be full of surprises and anyone who visits at twilight will see just how effective and impressive the lighting is.”
Admission to the park costs A$100 (R923) for a family of four and, for an extra A$75, they can get discounted tickets to Palmer Motorama, Palmer’s collection of vintage cars.
Palmer claimed that the experience provided value for money: “It’s a lot cheaper than going to Disneyland. If you went to Disneyland in France or Japan, you wouldn’t find a dinosaur park bigger than this.”
The mining magnate also claimed not to know how much the park cost to build. He told the Sydney Morning Herald: “Only my wife counts the money, I just count the experience – we’re all travellers through life.”
The tycoon said the park would serve as a reminder of the importance of conservation: “What we don’t want to see is our world end up like the dinosaurs did.
“We’ve got to take better care of the environment and have a positive message for people.”
Australia Zoo owner Terri Irwin – widow of the late wildlife expert Steve Irwin – attended the opening with her children Bindi and Robert, and said the dinosaur park would provide wider tourism benefits for the Sunshine Coast.
But it seems that not everyone is enamoured with the new attraction. Earlier this year, the boss of the Australian PGA championship, Brian Thorburn, announced that they were pulling out of hosting the prestigious golf tournament at the resort.
The resort has hosted the competition for 11 years, but it was reported that the PGA and Palmer had several disagreements after Jeff the T-Rex was placed alongside the 9th fairway during last December’s championship.
And some of the dinosaurs have been placed just metres from the park’s guest accommodation, which means that visitors could get an unwelcome – and rather terrifying – wake-up call.
Earlier this year, Palmer announced plans to build the Titanic replica with a view to offering holiday cruises on the ill-fated liner’s original route from Southampton to New York.
The nine-deck, 840-room ship will be constructed to the same dimensions as the Belfast-built White Star Liner – 270m long, 53m high and weighing 40 000 tons.
Titanic II will also remain faithful to the classifications of the original ship, with passengers able to buy first, second and third-class tickets. A maiden voyage is planned for 2016. – Daily Mail