One of Australia’s most colourful eccentrics, the mining billionaire Clive Palmer, already has his sights set on becoming prime minister and building a replica of the Titanic. To those projects he has now added the world’s largest “Jurassic Park”, after his plans to install 160 replica dinosaurs in a five-star resort on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast were approved.
Mr Palmer’s resort at Coolum, north of Brisbane, already features an eight-metre-tall tyrannosaurus rex named Jeff, planted on a golf course that until this year hosted a PGA Tour event. Now Jeff – named after Queensland’s deputy premier, Jeff Sweeney – is to be joined by scores of other Chinese-made animatronic dinosaurs, including a 10-metre-high Ruyangosaurus.
The robotic creatures, to be scattered around a heavily vegetated area, can move their tails and chests and blink their eyes. They can also roar – but not too loudly, for one of the 30 conditions stipulated by the Sunshine Coast regional council is that “noise emissions” be limited to five decibels above background noise.
The larger-than-life Mr Palmer, who made his billions from coal, has formed the Palmer United Party and intends to field candidates in every seat in a general election due later this year. The party’s policies include “creating mineral wealth to continuously contribute to the welfare of the Australian community”, and abolishing a tax on the carbon emissions of the country’s biggest polluters.
Earlier this year, the 59-year-old announced plans to build Titanic II, a replica of the doomed cruise vessel, and to retrace its predecessor’s journey. He hopes to launch the vessel in 2016. Asked about his motivation, he replied: “I want to spend the money I’ve got before I die.” He is also reportedly considering launching his own newspaper, possibly to be called The Australian Times.
The dinosaur park – which received almost 200 objections from locals, many of them concerning parking and noise – will consume a fair chunk of his wealth. Along with a vintage car museum – vintage cars are another of Mr Palmer’s expensive hobbies – it will take up 1.3 hectares of the resort.
The regional council approved the project after it was described by one councillor, Jason O’Pray, as “subtle” and “classy”. He told yesterday’s meeting: “These things are not Disneyland. They are very low-key, very low-impact.” The council concluded that it would help attract tourists to the resort, which has been struggling.
Among the creatures which will be joining Jeff is a 20-metre-long deinosuchus – a prehistoric crocodile – which is currently being assembled in the resort’s village square.
The PGA Tour abandoned Coolum after a series of disputes with Mr Palmer, mainly over sponsorship and course signage.emoval of vegetation and a height-restriction on most of the models.
Pet projects: Palmer's plans
Titanic II In February, Palmer announced plans to build a replica of the RMS ‘Titanic’ in China at an estimated cost of US$500m, to complete the journey it never made.
Gold Coast United FC Palmer purchased a stake in the club in 2008, aiming for the Asian Champion’s League with the aim of increasing his profile in China. The club’s licence was revoked in 2012 following Palmer’s “flagrant disregard” for A-League rules.
AUS$10m Christmas bonus Christmas came early for the 800 employees of Queensland Nickel in 2010. After a 30 per cent increase in production, Palmer thanked his staff with cars, trips to Fiji and more, collectively worth AUS$10m.
Palmer United Party In April this year, Palmer announced he would stand candidates in the 2013 election. The plan’s cost is unknown.