Age Of Fishes AGM - 2017

Wednesday 13th of December saw the Age of Fishes Board hold the 2017 AGM  during which Dr Alex Ritchie was awarded a Life Membership of the AOFM presented by Ms Sharon D’Elboux (Chair)

Dr Alex Ritchie is a Palaeontologist, Senior Fellow at the Australian Museum of Natural History and the ‘Father’ of the Canowindra fossils.
In January 1993, after a 20 year search, an exploratory dig by Dr Alex rediscovered the source of the 1955 fossil fish slab and with local community support and  earth moving equipment (provided by Cabonne Shire Council), he supervised the 10-day major excavation of this world-class fossil fish site.

The find exceeded all expectations with some 70-80 tonnes of rock slabs, containing around 4,000 fish specimens recovered from the Canowindra site. Thousands of complete fish specimens still remain buried at the original site, awaiting excavation.

These could well include other animals new to science and possibly even the skeletal remains of some of the earliest known amphibians, our distant ancestors – a world class thrilling prospect not just for Australia but the international science community  to anticipate! 

Renate & Colin Do Western Australia

Volunteers to the Age of Fishes Renate and Colin have recently returned from their trip to Northam,Western Australia for the Australian National Balloon Championships held there in September this year. 

 On their way home they travelled around the south western corner of West Australia. Though the trip was originally intended to be three to four months duration sadly the weather in Western Australia had other plans leaving a fine (thankfully) 2 weeks in Northam for the competition (Crewing for Anton Kerr along with Matthew Rice, plus Jan & Graham Kerr of Balloon Joy Flights).
Along with the Kerrs (Jan & Graham), Renate & Colin headed for the Margaret River region via Fremantle for a few days R&R. While the weather was great they went on winery crawls and visited cheese and chocolate factories. While Jan and Graham had to head home to  business. Renate and  Colin continued on with sight seeing and the occasional cave visit.

Eventually heading down to Walpole and Albany, when the heavens opened they did an did an Eco Cruise on the Nornalup inlet where the guide, an interesting man with a sound knowledge of Australia's geological history started talking about a large fish fossil find in central NSW.  When he expressed he would love to learn more about it,  Colin was happy to inform him that one of his tasks at Age of Fishes Museum is as a tour guide. This was enough to get their guide very exited and asking a zillion questions about our museum in Canowindra.  

 Albany was a washout. They were there for just over a week and it poured every day. In  one 24 hour period they had 80mm plus of rain. Though hoping for a drier time in  Esperance it wasn't to be and upon leaving Albany they were diverted to detours due to road washouts. 

On one fine one day though they were able to see went “Stonehenge” a granite  replica of the original henge on England's Salisbury Plain, reproduced  down to the finest detail. Worth a look if ever you are there.

The bad weather followed them back across the Nullarbor to South Australia and though they had intended to go into the North Flinders Ranges it was decided to abort the rest of the trip and head home arriving with the rain in tow, a dry and thirsty Canowindra thanked them.

John & Lorraine’s Excellent Adventure.

Age of Fishes volunteers John & Lorraine recently spent 5 weeks in the UK.

On arrival three days were spent in London recovering from the flight and to see a performance at The Globe Theatre (a bucket list item now ticked off Lorraine’s list) .

Driving south west over a few days they reached Harlyn Bay (Cornwall) near Padstow where they stayed for the next week and celebrating John’s 80th birthday with lunch at Rick Stein’s original seafood restaurant  and lots of day trips to beautiful and interesting locations.  

Heading north over several days to Montrose in Scotland they visited John’s sister. Many day trips were spent appreciating Scotland's magnificent scenery, including the amazing “Falkirk Wheel” which is used in place of eleven (canal) locks, for lifting boats (barges) from one canal to another 30 metres up using about as much power as boiling 8 kettles of water! 

The huge sculptures in the photo are called “The Kelpies” and they celebrate the heavy horses that were used to pull the barges/canal boats before the wheel.

Visitor Numbers Have been Good!

Recent visitor numbers have been very good at the museum and bodes well for the future. Anne Clark along with her team are setting in motion new initiatives to steadily improve the number of visitors such as mail outs to various interest groups, travel clubs, car & motor bike clubs, probus groups, schools, uni’s etc. 

The more people we welcome through our door equates to a much wider exposure to other groups and individuals. This also helps us achieve a far better and more cost effective promotion of the Age of Fishes Museum. 

If you know of any groups looking to visit our museum, please let us know their details and we can get in touch and introduce this museum as a destination to aim for

Changes Are Afoot, or should we say a flipper ...

November 2017 .

In September we fare-welled Warren Keedle under whom the museum experienced a wonderful period of economic growth, financial stability and new direction. 

His introduction of several new initiatives enhanced the experience afforded to visitors to the museum. 

Warren enjoyed bringing in fossils from around the world for sale in the Grossi gift shop and these fossil sales undoubtedly improved both profitability to the shop & the financial stability of the museum in general. 

The legacy Warren left the Age of Fishes Museum is not only a new attitude to customer/visitor experience which will no doubt live on for a long time to come but also as exciting and inclusive environment.

Thank you Warren, thank you for a wonderful journey - you will be very much missed.

And so, on 16 Oct 2017 the Age of Fishes Museum takes great pleasure in welcoming Anne Clark to the role of  Manager of the museum.

Anne comes to us from a teaching background, and with over 30 years experience in teaching in  public, private and International and tertiary education, we're anticipating new and engaging adventures on the horizon

With a Bachelor of Science (Agriculture) under her wing, Anne, the author of 12 text books, has not  only taught science, biology and agriculture in her years in the standard educational stream but has also taught at TAFE, and the department of Parks & Wildlife.

As co-owner of a refrigeration transport business (14 yrs) and currently co-owner of the Adret Pastoral Co. she has experience in budgets, strategic planning & business planning.

So with open arms council, staff and volunteers welcome Anne aboard and look forward to a new era of growth and change for the museum with her leadership & guidance.

PS Anne is a little shy so if want to see what she looks like behind the monitor, you might have to visit 

Spring 2014

There is a new fish in the pond.

As you may or may not know our Fiona Ferguson stepped down from her position as manager earlier this year. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Fiona for all of her amazing work over the years, as well as her passion and commitment to the museum and the community of Canowindra. Her replacement is well suited to continuing this fantastic legacy. So without further ado we would like to introduce to you Warren Keedle the new “Big” fish in the Canowindra Pond.

Warren has a degree in Environmental Science majoring in Cultural Heritage and as such has a strong interest in heritage and history. He has previously worked for large tourism organisations in the Blue Mountains and as a Discovery Ranger and educator with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. He has been involved in several heritage projects in the region most recently the relocation of Emmaville cottage in Orange, where his involvement included writing management plans and assessment documents for the move.
Warren is keen to be part of the progress and development of cultural heritage in Canowindra and is now well placed as the manager of the Southern Hemisphere’s only Devonian fish fossil museum to be an integral part of the future in our town.
If you wish to discuss any heritage issues or ideas for the progress of the museum he is more than willing to spend time learning and sharing information. Or feel free to pop in to the Age of Fishes Museum and say Hello.             Ed.

The Age of Fishes Museum would like to pay respect to the Wiradjuri People, the traditional custodians of the land upon which the museum stands and in which our fossils were discovered, and pay respect to elders past and present.

Sir David Attenborough Visits the Age of Fishes

One of the most distinguished people in the field of natural sciences visited our humble museum last
year. Below are some of the exclusive pictures from the visit. While he was here he was given a private tour by eminent palaeontologist Dr Alex Ritchie, who was integral in the rediscovery of our fossil heritage in 1993. Sir David said that our fossils were “World Class”, and that we were very privileged to have such amazing specimens.

Dr Alex Ritchie and Sir David Attenborough examining slabs in the storage facility.
Touring the original dig site

Meeting for the first time the one and only Canowindra grossi

A word from our newest volunteer

Here at the museum we take pride in our volunteers, without them we would not be able to function or offer the amazing friendliness and quality of service for which we are renowned. Our volunteers are the lifeblood of the museum.

Now a word from Susan:
“My name is Susan Shorten and I have recently begun volunteering at the Age of Fishes Museum. I am excited to have the opportunity to be part of this awe-inspiring team. The museum is well organised and extremely interesting, and there are a variety of activities to keep everyone comfortably busy. I am grateful to be able to contribute a little of my time, and appreciate being able to practise some of my skills in administration. Thank you to everyone for your friendliness and help.”

Susan’s hobbies include gardening and reading.
Susan has lived in Canowindra since 2002 and is married to Stephen. Favourite saying: “There are no problems, only solutions.”

If you are interested in volunteering some of your time or skills to the museum please let us know.
We would love to have you as part of the team.

Grants and Project

We have recently made some changes to the retail area of the gift shop and now are focusing heavily on scientific and informative items. Now we have an extensive display of retail fossils that are sourced from five continents (I’m yet to crack Antarctica and Asia Ed.) This incredible collection ranges from Calcite Ammonites sourced from the beaches in the United Kingdom to 550 million year old local Australian trilobites, and fish fossils from around the world.

Part of the new fossil collection

Our take away fish project has been completed and the travelling exhibition visits schools, other museums, and science festivals on a regular basis and is a huge hit with the kids. Most recently we were at the Australian Museum Science Festival in Sydney which saw thousands of visitors over two weeks.

Warren demonstrating just how old the Canowindra Fauna is at the Australian Museum

Our popular “take away fish” trailer to take our fish wherever they need to go

That’s all of the old news -- now for the new news and coming projects. We are currently in the final phases of having a new deck constructed at the rear of the museum. This will give greater access to our displays in a more continuous manner as well as providing some excellent space for outdoor seating and an area to bask in the afternoon sun. I will include some photos in the next issue of the newsletter.

We also have a grant project underway to use some amazing 3D animation to bring the Canowindra Grossi to life. This is in the early planning stages and there’ll be more news as it comes to light.

And finally our website is undergoing a facelift. Its new shiny version should be up on the internet very soon. It will include such fascinating features as the full 4 minute interview with Sir David Attenborough at the museum, a timeline of events starting from the early Devonian to the present day as it relates to the museum, a kids only area featuring games and information as well as scientific information and the usual contact details. The early version looks great and once completed I am sure you will all be very impressed with the technical expertise our partners Ad- Loyalty have applied in this project.

We would love to hear from you!

If you would like to write a letter or an article please forward to: Age of Fishes PO Box 360 Gaskill St, Canowindra 2804 or email us at

 Awards, feedback and adulation abound


The Age of Fishes Museum has again been nominated for the Daroo Excellence in Business Awards!

Congratulations on this nomination to all our volunteers, Friends of Fossils and the local businessand community members who continue to assist us in so many ways. The Museum could not continue to develop without your fantastic support.

The results will be known after the Awards night in November and they will be noted in the next edition.

We were winners in the IMAGINE AWARDS 2013

For the category EDUCATION & AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT 1-2 staff

This award was presented to Fiona Ferguson for the Age of Fishes “take away fish” trailer. As you can see from the previous article this is an amazing achievement.

Our visitors never cease to amaze us with their comments. Here are a few Quotes from our Opinion Sheets and Visitors Book in recent months.

”excellent display of truly world class specimens”

“Lovely venue, easy to access, plenty of space for the kids”

“An hour well spent”

“Amazed by all the history”

“Outstanding collection, really well curated”

“There’s something fishy going on in here!”

Speaking of feedback, as you know it has been quite a while since our last newsletter. We are
planning to produce 4 each year . . . one for each season in this new format. We would love your feedback on the new look or ideas for future issues. Basically, I would like your expert opinions on what you want the newsletter to contain. Is it meeting your requirements? . . . are you getting the information you want? Please feel free to email me with ideas or feedback at any time via our email address Your knowledge and your patronage of our museum is what keeps us going, and this newsletter is for you. Your opinion is greatly valued.

Visitors and Vehicles 

We would like to shout out a big Thankyou to visiting Tour Groups from the following establishments in the past 12 months;

  • Kiama Tours
  • En Course Tours
  • Richards Coaches (5 visits)
  • Fred Watson Tours
  • Trade Travel Group
  • U3A
  • Ross Tours
  • Bilyara Seniors
  • Forbes Vacation Care
  • Down Under Tours
  •  Wollongong U3A

We would also like to thank the following schools for their visits and feedback,

  • Canobolas High School  
  • St Edwards High School 
  • Pymble College
  • Dubbo Distance Education
  • Hennessey High School
  • Henry Lawson High School 
  • Sydney Grammar
  • Hunter Valley Grammar 
  • Hurlstone High School
  • University of NSW 
  • Rosebank High School 
  • Parkes High School 
  • Brisbane Waters High

The Cobra Car Club of Australia visited the Museum on Monday 1st September. 18 cars lined the car park and surrounding streets, leaving many drooling at their immaculate condition. The owners were treated to a morning tea of homemade treats baked by Elaine Pearce and Beth Bowd, which were greatly appreciated by the club members. After morning tea the group wandered around the Museum, exploring the displays, and marvelling at the history presented within.

Our car park full of Cobras!!!!!

Blast from the Past

Old books always intrigue me. There is something about the smell, the feel and of course the language and with the current debate again raging in the news regarding evolution and life’s origins I thought it would be prudent to share an excerpt from a book titled “The Miracle of Life” by Harold Wheeler published in 1938. This excerpt is titled the TRUTH ABOUT FOSSILS.
Truth About Fossils

“Thus it will be seen that cataclysmic happenings may all but remove a species at a blow.  Volcanic eruptions pouring lava over land and poisonous gases into the sea, were more prevalent in the remote past than nowadays. But for the most part races and species have declined gradually, and sinking back into the earth from which they drew their sustenance have become converted, circumstances favouring, into the mineralized replicas of their former selves known as fossils.

“The popular and incorrect definition of a fossil is “something that has been turned into stone”. Silica, and certain combinations of lime or iron with sand particles do, in varying degree, mineralize various objects, but the scope for such fossilization is limited, and less common than one might suppose.  Some things cannot be fossilized at all – the soft bodies of jelly-fish and anemones, snails, oysters and cuttlefishes, or the internal organs and muscles of vertebrates.”

How many commas were used in the writing of this passage let alone the entire 464 pg. book?


Canowindra Pharmacy : Gardners Ground Vineyard : Mr & Mrs Plumridge Canowindra Newsagency : David Bigg Accounting : V Dharmarajah
Canowindra Trading Post : Canowindra Golf Club Chinese Restaurant : Bryton Wool Canowindra Lions Club : Canowindra Balloon Challenge : Paleocasts
Toms Waterhole Vineyard : Central West Building Services : Leon le Leu
Canowindra Craft & Hobbies : Riverview Motel : Rosnay Organics Canowindra Showground Trust : Swinging Bridge Wines : Gondwana Dreaming

If you are interested in becoming a “Friend of Fossils” please contact staff on 63441008