SURROUNDED by 55 creatively painted sculptured koalas on Monday, NSW Premier Mike Baird said other communities will looks to the Hello Koalas Public Sculpture Trail for inspiration.
The Premier made a brief appearance at Emerald Downs Golf Course at the invitation of Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams and Hello Koalas project instigator Margret Meagher. In her introduction to the Premier, Mrs Williams said: “The community will be the beneficiary of what we see here today”.
Trail tees off: Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams, executive director Arts and Health Australia Margret Meagher, NSW Premier Mike Baird, deputy mayor Adam Roberts, and project coordinator Linda Hall surrounded by koala sculptures at Emerald Downs Golf Course on Monday.
Mr Baird said public art is a critical part of any city and the artists had made the koalas so visually appealing they will generate conversation not just here but across the nation and the world. Also at the launch mayor Peter Besseling said he couldn’t believe the talent of the artists who created the designs on the koalas.
“It showcases our local arts community and confirms Port Macquarie’s relationship with koalas to the world, “Cr Besseling said.
“It has been well supported throughout the community, including council as principal sponsors, and adds another level of interest for people coming to the Hastings.”
Koala artist Yvonne Kiely, whose Celtic Koala design is a nod to her heritage and that of many in the community, said her family will be coming from overseas to see the trail.
Executive director Arts and Health Australia Mrs Meagher said the gods and koala spirits were shining on the launch.
“This the culmination of three years work and we are honoured Premier Mike Baird has joined us,” Mrs Meagher said.
Arts and Health Australia was indebted to the state government for its support of the Dementia Koala, and for its support of the organisation’s efforts to make the Hastings the first dementia friendly community in Australia, she said.
There had been overwhelming support for the project and Mrs Meagher believes the community will take ownership of it.
“Already today we have had sightseers calling into the golf club to see the koalas.”
She gave high praise to project coordinator Linda Hall.
“This wouldn’t have happened without the calibre of expertise and skill set of Linda. I can’t speak highly enough of her.”
Each of the koalas will be placed on a plinth and located either at the site of their sponsor’s premises or at a mutually agreed location.
The creatively designed koalas will start to appear throughout the Hastings this month.
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