“Larnook to Erth. Come in, Erth.”

I’m fond of puppetry (Bunraku, Bear in the Big Blue House, The Muppets, The Storyteller, Greg the Bunny, The Wombles, The Clangers – some of these are not for kiddies) and dinosaurs (all of them), and when the two combine it’s irresistible. The puppetry company Erth, based in Sydney, has produced a number of shows, one  of which is ‘Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo‘. (The link contains a brief video of the performance.) It’s presently touring the west of New South Wales, and we drove two-and-a-half hours to Tenterfield to see it.

It’s a charming walk through some of the dinosaurs that once lived in Australasia with a ‘zoo keeper’ introducing the puppet creatures. The zoo keeper told us what they were and a little about them. (You can get a pdf fact sheet of Erth’s dinosaurs here so I won’t regurgitate the material.) It was very interactive, with kids volunteering enthusiastically to come on stage and meet the very lively dinosaurs.

Two very cute Dryosaurus babies were first.

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Next was the giant dragonfly, Meganeura. Three flew over the audience and buzzed the crowd. All eyes were on the monsters and you hardly noticed the puppeteers.

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Then came two Leaellynasauras from Dinosaur Cove in Victoria. They were named after the daughter of palaeontologist Tom Rich, who discovered the bones.

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The Australovenator was the most active and ‘aggressive’. The kids were asked what to feed it – sausages or guts. No prizes for guessing which they chose – loudly! It also seemed to prefer small boys to burgers.

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Last came Australia’s largest dinosaur, the herbivore Titanosaurus.

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The small-town theatre was packed and if the noise level was any indication, the kids (and not a few adults) loved the show. The story line was cleverly written, amusing and informative with jokes for the parents, too, and the kids were not condescended to.

Afterwards, the baby Dryosaurus were taken into the foyer so you could get up close and pat them.

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I’d love to see more of Erth’s shows, such as ‘Prehistoric Aquarium‘ and the adult ‘Murder‘, based on Nick Cave’s ‘Murder Ballads’. Puppetry isn’t always just for kids!

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4 Responses to “Larnook to Erth. Come in, Erth.”

  1. Betty says:

    This looks fantastic. I’ll have to keep an eye out for Erth productions before I go on a dinosaur dig next year.

  2. Kath says:

    What a great show for all! Who doesn’t love dinosaurs?
    Last year we took a guided camping trip that stopped at Adele’s Grove, near one of the Riversleigh digs. It was self-guided, and a bit disappointing that it was not a working dig. But there were a few fossil rocks with real fossils in them eg the stones in the gut of a “Big Bird”. The interpretive signs were good, explaining how the area had provided the fossil finds. IT would be great to do one of the university digs.

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