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Dinosaurs will remain part of Clive Palmer's Coolum resort as $100m renovation begins

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Eccentric billionaire Clive Palmer has no plans to allow his dinosaur park to become extinct as he forges ahead with a $100 million refurbishment of his dilapidated Coolum resort.

Work has begun at the former Hyatt Coolum – once the pride of the Sunshine Coast – in line with Wednesday’s bold announcement that Mr Palmer would soon restore the property to its “former glory”.

He revealed he would be installing replicas of the Wonders of the World and famous landmarks as part of his new vision.

Sunshinecoastnews.com.au has been told this includes a “full-size” clone of Rome’s Trevi Fountain, which is 20m wide and 26m high.

Despite his latest passions being introduced to the 150ha site, it seems Mr Palmer will remain true to his old loves.

A spokesman said the dinosaur park, touted as the biggest in the world when opened with the help of Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin in late 2013, would stay.

For those who might not remember Palmersaurus, it consisted of 160 life-size creatures that not only roared, but moved heads, limbs and mouths and even blinked at visitors.

They were behind a wire fence and a number of the installations were close to accommodation, which did not go down well with some guests. Families were charged $100 for the prehistoric experience.

Mr Palmer defended the price at the time saying: “It’s a lot cheaper than going to Disneyland”.

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His spokesman said there were no plans to remove the theme park.

“The dinosaurs will still be there. The kids love them,” he said.

“With the addition of the Wonders of the World and famous landmarks, people will visit from all over South East Queensland, Australia, and eventually, from overseas.

“Once this is all done, people will come back. We are sure of it.”

The spokesman said the inspiration behind introducing replicas of the wonders had come from Mr Palmer’s extensive travels.

He said Mr Palmer was one of the nation’s “most travelled” people and he wanted to share the wonders he had seen with visitors to his resort.

Some of the villas at Palmer Coolum Resort that are in dire need of refurbishment. Picture Warren Lynam

The Wonders of the World park at Mr Palmer’s resort won’t be a first. There are at least two others, one in Beijing, China, and another in New Delhi, India.

Money is clearly not going to be an issue as the mining magnate’s Pilbara iron ore asset is generating $500 million profit annually, thanks to a long-term contract with Chinese conglomerate CITIC.

More than 300 premium studio, two and three-bedroom apartments will be completely refurbished in the Coolum upgrade, which would also feature seven restaurants and the complete renovation of the Village Square.

No redevelopment applications have been made to Sunshine Coast Council and sunshinecoastnews.com.au understands none will be required as the changes will involve mainly improvements to existing premises.

Mr Palmer on Wednesday said 100 tradespeople and construction staff were already on site, with a further 100 expected to be employed on the project by June, ahead of an anticipated opening of stage one in the second half of 2022.

His spokesman said there would definitely be hospitality jobs available once the project reached this point.

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Trade vehicles were coming and going from the property Thursday, including a truck (pictured) from SafetyQuip Sunshine Coast, which provides a range of safety equipment and clothing, including helmets, harnesses, Hi Vis clothing, ear muffs and eye protection.

Work is also scheduled to enhance the Robert Trent Jones Jnr-designed golf course, the former home of 11 Australian PGA Championships.

It is understood discussions have commenced regarding hosting future high-profile golf events.

Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Matt Stoeckel said the former Hyatt Coolum had played a key role in developing the Sunshine Coast’s tourism and accommodation infrastructure.

“There is no doubt the region requires significant resorts, such as the former Hyatt, to capitalise on the destination’s potential for further leisure, business, conference and events travel,” he said.

“We look forward to further information about this announcement.”

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