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Twelve-year-old Ellie Honeywell regards herself as an amateur palaeontologist. When Tom Hart invites her to a fossil dig near Winton, she thinks her fossil-finding fantasies have come true. But he's invited his close friend, Peta as well. She's the most annoying person Ellie has ever met and it's not long before they clash. This animosity comes to a head on a weekend camping trip.

In the hills behind the Lark Quarry Dinosaur Stampede site, a gang of fossil thieves mines for valuable opal fossils. They're not about to let some kids jeopardise their plans to escape undetected. If Ellie and Peta are to outwit and survive these ruthless criminals they need to become allies.

Another tale interweaves through Ellie's story - that of a small ornithopod trying to survive as a plant-eater in a land of terrifying flesh eaters, the Australian version of T-rex, the theropods. Like Ellie, she too must find courage and determination to survive.

In a dramatic conclusion Ellie’s discovery of the fossilized femur of the small ornithopod ties the two narratives together.


While writing Secrets of Eromanga I volunteered to work on the Elliot dinosaur dig site near Winton in outback Queensland; what better place to do research on Australian fossil digs and find out more about illegal fossil smuggling? I already had my main character in Ellie - resourceful, courageous and a bit of a loner, but something was missing and I had no clue what it was.

Then on the day we visited the awesome Lark Quarry Dinosaur Stampede site, Secrets of Eromanga finally found its core – I couldn’t tell Ellie’s adventure without including the story of a young Cretaceous Period ornithopod who once roamed that same piece of country.

If you ever get the chance to head outback ... visit the Lark Quarry Dinosaur Stampede near Winton in north-west Queensland. This is where, around 95 million years ago a huge meat-eating dinosaur called a theropod, stalked and chased a herd of smaller dinosaurs. The evidence of their stampede as they raced away from certain death is left behind in the rock surface of Lark Quarry.

TEACHERS' NOTES :  Secrets of Eromanga Teachers’ Notes
written by Anna Dalziel, Lothian/Hachette Books

copyright Sheryl Gwyther 2008