At the Centre of Discovery, one clear and chilly night,
The doors were locked, the tourists gone, the staff had doused the light,
All lay quiet in the moonlight, still as in the tomb,
A Muttaburrasaurus in his cage half-filled the room.
One dusty moonbeam withershins slid through a window pane:
The dino-fossil's eyeholes blinked − and brightly shone again.
Hughie stretched his aching legs, all reconstructed wrong,
He flexed his arms and neck, for he'd been standing still so long.
Curators don't look after ancient friends the way they should:
A Muttaburra chiropractor would have done him good.
He sniffed and took a step or two, stiffleggèd and unsure,
Then, flattening his fence, commenced his Flinders Centre tour.
He stomped around the building, knocked a few things to the floor,
The crashes made him nervous, and he headed for the door,
But no way would he fit. He stopped, and flicked an unseen ear:
In the frozen silver silence, not a minmi could he hear.
All around him in the moonlight were reminders of his land,
And strangely smelling objects which he didn't understand.
One display caught his attention, and he clomped across to look:
Some mini dinosaurs at rest, within a shady nook.
They didn't move or greet him, but he gave a friendly nod,
And took a bite of greenery that tasted rather odd.
Our trusty dinosaur now had his limbs all loose at last,
And headed off to break his multi-milli-something fast.
No clambering, no running, no: he took a giant jump,
His massive head broke through the rooftop with a dino-thump,
Escape was now within his reach: he took a great leap forward,
With one almighty bounce the Muttaburrasaurus soared.
This venerable fossil moved as all his kin still do,
For Muttaburrasaurus was a giant kangaroo!
An eerie foreign landscape met the Muttaburran eye:
The world was somewhat altered from when he lay down to die.
Where were swamps and forests? All the ground was dry as dust,
The riverbed was empty, and poor Hughie was nonplussed.
He stared around at Hughenden, its streets and shops and cars,
He felt as you and I would if we woke one day on Mars.
Then he spied a welcome face: our Hughie's luck was in,
A Muttaburrasaurus! With a funny coloured skin.
This fellow roo was friendly, and he said his name was Mutt,
So Hugh enquired politely where to fill his empty gut.
His newfound friend replied, if Hughie waited for the wet,
He'd find green grass and water then, but nothing much just yet,
Though coolibah's refreshing... oh, but maybe not that one −
Too late! The words were barely out before the deed was done.
In an instant, one historic tree in Hughenden was mush,
As megahungry Hughie crunched it up in one great rush.
Now Hughie was still peckish, and curious to know
What had happened to the great south land he knew from long ago,
But Mutt was quite reluctant to forsake his comfy park,
And wander who knows whither in the scary silvered dark.
So Mutt and Hughie waved goodbye. Our stalwart roo set out,
To seek for grand adventure in the country round about.
All Hughenden resounded to his gargantuan thumps
As Muttaburrasurus left their town in mighty jumps.
The shaken Hughendenians stepped out their shaken doors,
And wondered at this earthquake with no seismologic cause.
Far cannonfire, or dynamite? Or terrorists, perhaps?
And Hughie ventured onwards, in receding thunderclaps.
The Muttaburrasaurus travelled long miles at the hop,
He found some flats of Flinders grass and there he made a stop.
He ate a plain or two or three, drank Kooroorinya dry,
A dino-widdle filled the empty billabongs up high.
Along the Trail of Dinosaurs in leaps and bounds he went,
This lone skeletal tourist, on discovery intent.
His dinner fell between his bones, he didn't turn a hair,
But journeyed on refreshed, to go exploring everywhere,
Until he found that lush lagoon from who knows way back when,
Where he could rest and nibble at the treefern fronds again.
At dawn, the resurrected fossil still was hopping free,
He breakfasted on national park, and drained a dam or three.
Our roo was growing weary of the sere and sunparched land,
He missed his fellow fossils and the tourists by his stand.
The sun was getting warmer: it was near to smoko time,
Too hot for one accustomed to an airconditioned clime.
He lay beside a tractor in a shady shed, to dream
Of mornings when he played beside a mossy splashing stream.
By now our friend was missed back at the Centre, but his tracks
Were strewn across the landscape, with the remnants of his snacks.
The stockmen came from far and near to chase the escapee,
They tracked him to that farflung shed, and closed in nervously.
What next? A fierce showdown with this beast of yesteryear?
The posse paused to crack a beer, and calm its rising fear...
When Hughie heard pursuers' steps, he raised one hitching thumb,
And waited, much too hot to hop back all the way he'd come.
He lowered his great head and pulled their limping lassos higher,
And that's the way they captured him, those heroes of the shire.
They popped him on a B-dub, with a cherrypicker's aid,
And drove him back to Hughenden, to be once more displayed.
The manager rejoiced to see old Hughie home at last,
And swore to right the wrong of Hughie's misconstructed past.
He'd often wondered if those bones were wired together wrong,
For Hughie's head looked far too big to stick out front for long.
They'd seen their saurus sauntering, they knew now what to do,
'Cos Muttaburrasaurus was a giant kangaroo.
So Hughie now squats upright, as a kanga really should,
The hole in the Discovery Centre roof has done some good:
With a shadecloth to protect him, now our Muttaburran friend
Can gaze all round his district, and he doesn't need to bend.
Although the palaeontologists in ivory towers protest,
The locals know for sure that Hugh's new posture is the best.
The town has done some thinking since its dino's changed a bit:
Now, Muttaburrasaurus hunts by moonlight are a hit,
Young Mutt has been repainted from his whiskers to his tail,
A certain route has been renamed, 'The Dinosauroo Trail'.
Hugh's bony visage peeking from the roof is quite a sight,
The tourists come in hungry droves, to Hughenden's delight.
They hear of that fey moonlit night, when earthquakes shook each bed
As Muttaburrasaurus rose like thunder from the dead,
They tremble at the telling of his travels down each street,
And shudder at the shudder of those mighty pounding feet.
They marvel at old Hughie, who has taught the world at last
That humans aren't the experts on our prehistoric past.
About these words
Early reconstructions of dinosaurs were different from today's versions. Some paleo-artists drew certain species in a kangaroo-like posture.
What could a creature do with tiny forelimbs and a large head? If he went on all-fours, would his head be too heavy to keep up?
Who is right? Do we think we have the ultimate answers in 2020?
What if Muttaburrasaurus was a giant kangaroo?
For background on Hughie and his adventures in the Hughenden district, visit the Hughenden website.