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  • Liane Morris

Making Memorable Moments at Mega Creatures!



As the April school holidays approach, families everywhere are seeking fun-filled adventures to create unforgettable memories.

 

In the ancient lands of the Hunter Valley, where volcanos once erupted, there are dinosaurs, giant bugs and mythical creatures waiting for young explorers to discover. Embark on a journey through time and imagination at Hunter Valley Gardens and the annual Mega Creatures and Mega Creatures Night Safari, located just a short two-hour car drive from Sydney and only forty minutes from Newcastle. Open from Saturday, 6 April until Sunday, 5 May, this Jurassic fantastical adventure includes rides, interactive fossil digs, amazing entertainment and giant animatronic animals that will amaze visitors of all ages.


Whether it’s your first time at this annual Jurassic event or you’re one of the many who come every year, there is always something new to discover. No two years are ever the same. And this year promises to be especially exciting with the internationally recognised innovator of physical and visual theatre, puppetry-based creators Erth, providing the entertainment for the first time. The little ones will love Erth’s Roving Baby Dinosaurs, who are simply adorable and have just hatched. Get up close and personal with a fantastic selection of dinosaurs that once roamed free around the world at Erth’s famous Dinosaur Zoo Show, a fantastic 30-minute performance outside the Igloo marquee. And if you’re looking for thrills at night during the Night Safari, you might come face to face with Erth’s Roving Exoskeletons - a unique jaw dropping experience where light and movement combine to bring amazing ancient creatures back to life.


Of course, Mega Creatures would not be what it is without actual mega creatures. All the favourites are returning this year, including T-Rex, Diplodocus, Stegosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Triceratops and more, but there are also a number of new prehistoric visitors. If you know your dinosaurs (ask your five-year-old), you might know that Wuerhosaurus and Huangyangosaurus are Stegosaurian dinosaurs whose fossils have been found in China. They’ll be joining the party this year along with the new Dilophosauru, made famous in the movie Jurassic Park, although they got it slightly wrong when they showed Dilophosauru spitting poison and having a neck frill. Look out for the distinctive crests on its skull. Rumour has it that there may even be a new T-Rex on the hunt. The young and young at heart will enjoy meeting the famous Roving Dinosaurs, Velociraptor, and T-Rex. Snap a photo before they snap you! Will you be brave enough to pat one?


Dinosaurs aren’t the only creatures roaming the gardens. There is anew Rhyothemis Fuliginosa Selys this year, which is a type of dragonfly that looks like a butterfly from East Asia. There are also new Thorn Bugs, giantants, scorpions and snails, not to mention the ever-popular fire-breathing dragons you’ll discover in the Dragon’s Den.


“We can’t wait to see the looks on children’s faces as they experience life-size models of dinosaurs, dragons, and bugs, with an incredible interactive display to delight the young and old,” says Kim Jacobs, Marketing Manager at Hunter Valley Gardens.


"Whether you’re coming during the day or at night, this is the perfect experience for everyone

during the school holidays"


“Our team work all year round to ensure that the best ideas come to fruition, designing many of the displays themselves with state-of-the-art animatronics and speciality lighting and sourcing them internationally. It’s an extraordinary team effort, and we all love our work.”


This year, the Amphitheatre has been taken over by an amazing butterfly exhibition with the butterflies painted and decorated by local Making Memorable Moments at school children. Visitors can vote for their favourite, with the winners

receiving a class excursion to the event plus aqua golf, putt putt and a picnic. The winners will be announced on 10th May. If you’re visiting during the day, keep your eyes peeled for the hidden dinosaur egg that’s been lost in the gardens. If you can find the egg and return it to Mumma Dinosaur in the Garden’s Entry, you can win a family pass to Snow Time in

the Garden later in the year.


As the sun sets at Hunter Valley Gardens, the pre-historic creatures will come alive with lighting displays for Mega Creatures Night Safari. Beware, predators are hunting their prey around the frog ponds and paths. Hunter Valley Gardens' collection of snakes and lizards will be on display on Reptile Road, which winds its way through the magical Storybook Garden. In the Night at the Museum display, budding archaeologists can get their hands dirty discovering mythical fossils while learning some amazing facts and figures.


Hunter Valley Gardens comprises 14 hectares of immaculate gardens and manicured lawns, 6000 trees, 600,000 shrubs and over one million ground cover plants, waterfalls, statues, murals, and so much more. Autumn is a beautiful time to visit, with the Mega Creatures event, making it ideal for all the family. There are ten different zones to visit, with photo opportunities at every turn, such as giant butterfly wings, heads poking out of giant dinosaur eggs or getting close to your favourite dinosaur. A daytime visit to the event will allow visitors to see all the gardens, but at night, for safety reasons, only eight hectares are open.


If your teenagers are done with the dinosaurs, send them over to the rides where they can speed down the 35-metre Superslide that stands 12 metres high or have some twisty, twirly fun in the Tea Cup. If they’re looking for thrills, try the Swing Chair, which flies 11 metres above the ground. Perhaps the whole family will enjoy the vintage delight of the

Italian-built Venetian Carousel or the 25-metre-tall Giant Ferris Wheel with its spectacular panoramic views across the gardens, providing a unique opportunity to see the dinosaurs from above - sit back, relax, take a breath and enjoy the view.


If you’re hungry, there is a wide range of delicious food options available to enjoy, from pizza and souvlaki to Mexican, crepes, healthy nourish or burrito bowls, loaded spuds, corn on the cob, dumplings, kransky, kid’s spaghetti bolognese, beef and gravy rolls, and sweet potato fries. To satisfy your sweet tooth, there are churros, gelato, doughnuts,

sweet crepes, and tropical sno, just to name a few.

Kim has a big tip to help visitors get the most out of this year's event, “If there’s one thing I want people to know about this amazing event,

it’s that they have to leave enough time for it. Come at the start of the sessions because you won’t want to miss out on seeing anything. The Gardens are extensive, especially in the daytime when they are all open. We had to close off some hectares at night for safety reasons, but it still takes about three hours to see and do everything.


“For the best value for money, consider a combo ticket - the price is discounted, and it’s a great way to ensure that you can really enjoy the full experience and don’t miss the shows. Check out the times for the roaming dinosaurs and plan your visit to get the best of both the day and night sessions.”


The Gardens host many regular events, such as Mega Creatures, Snow Time in the Garden, and the Christmas Lights Spectacular, becoming family traditions enjoyed annually by locals and tourists alike.


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