Hello Koalas in the Camden Haven

Dementia, Finding the Key design, sponsored by the NSW Government.
Dementia, Finding the Key design, sponsored by the NSW Government.

FROM September 2014 the Hastings will become home to a bold new event, the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail, featuring 50 one-metre high koala sculptures oozing cuteness and creativity.

The Trail is a new way for visitors to explore the region and see each of the koalas, which are hand painted and decorated by local and interstate artists. The koalas will be set up at various tourism attractions and popular recreational spots from the coast to the hinterland.

Highlights are 'Kalido' a mosaic koala at the performing arts centre Glasshouse (artist Francessca O'Donnell), 'Bago Blossum the Amaze-ing koala' reflecting the new maze at Bago Vineyards (artist Kellie Mobbs), and 'Stoney' surrounded by his real koala cousins at Billabong Zoo (artist Bruce Whittaker).

The Whiddon Group has joined the growing band of Community Champions for the Hello Koalas Sculpture Project and is sponsoring a koala sculpture, promoting creative and active ageing, which will be installed at North Haven for the wider community to enjoy. The residents chose the design of the sculpture which will be painted by locla artist Kerry Smith-Taughkin.

The prject is designed to celebrate local art and creativity, and the importance of environmental sustainability, koalas hold a special place in the heart of the local community. Port Macquarie is the koala capital of Australia, home to the world's only Koala Hospital and one of the largest coastal koala populations.

Executive Director of Hello Koalas, Margret Meagher said: "Public art is a wonderful way to engage with a broad range of members within the community, from childhood to older age and from diverse backgrounds. It encourages interaction, participation and contribution".

The Hello Koalas Sculpture Project was developed by Arts and Health Australia, a national organisation, based in Port Macquarie. Port Macquarie Hastings Council is the principal sponsor. The project is inspired by the highly successful Larkin with Toads public art project in Hull UK in 2010.

Hello Koalas is a free event and will be open from September 2014 until December 2015. To learn more about the trail go to www.hellokoalas.com or like the Hello Koalas Sculpture Project on Facebook.

Community groups and clubs are encouraged to come together and sponsor further koalas for the Camden Haven.