Fund-raising Gympie's dead but not buried

FLESH-EATING bugs crawl over the pile of bones sitting in a large black tub, not unlike a bathtub.

The bugs are eating any remaining flesh so Jaimie and Debbie Cook can then do what they please with the hardened masses of collagen and calcium phosphate.

 

Jamie Cook holding fully cleaned young male and female sheep heads.
Jamie Cook holding fully cleaned young male and female sheep heads.

The Cooks are in the process of gathering animal skeletons, with the grand plan to open Australia's first ever bone museum.

"If we had $10,000 and a home we could open tomorrow. If every person in Gympie gave us just $1 we would have enough to run a spectacular facility with customised technology and visiting installations for 2-3 years. We believe it's important to start small and grow with strong foundations rather than try to bite off more than we can chew quickly and risk failure," Debbie said.

"We expect the completed project running at full capacity to be worth around $20M in the years to come and we can count 20 full-time staff we will need to run it at that stage."

While some my consider a building full of bones as a museum of the macabre, the Cooks are in the profession of exploring and educating others in the name of science.

"We sell science supplies to schools and universities for dissection, so we were already in the dead things business and I follow a lot of really interesting people on social media," Debbie said.

"A similar facility in America was looking for a second location, all the news was in the paper about the highway bypass and how it might effect the town, so my little brain went, 'That's a really good idea, maybe we could do that here' - there's no dedicated bone museum in Australia. So I mentioned it to Jaime."

"And I went "yeah, what a great idea"," Jaimie added.

"He backed me, we went to other people and put it to them and they also thought it had potential and next thing we knew we're starting a bone museum in Gympie," Debbie said.

 

A skull of a wild dog skull decorated in gold leaf by Manu Bugallo-Vales.
A skull of a wild dog skull decorated in gold leaf by Manu Bugallo-Vales. Manu Bugallo-Vales

Jaimie, who has a Bachelor of Natural Resources next to his name, said the idea to open the museum was a progression of the couple's passion for science.

"For ourselves it's another step in our own education," Jaimie said.

The couple do have a few favourite bones.

"I'm sort of getting into shoulder blades," Jaimie said. "It's a really weird joint in the body. It does the same thing in just about every animal."

Debbie studied industrial chemistry and previously worked as a school science technician.

The Gympie Bone Museum is a registered charity, comprised of a board of seven people and hope to raise enough money to open for Christmas.