John Williamson backs koala trail

IT would have seemed almost criminal not to have Port Macquarie Koala Hospital patron John Williamson involved in the Hello Koalas Public Sculpture Trail which becomes a reality in the Hastings this September.

The much loved Australian singer songwriter will pick up his paintbrush to produce a design on one of the marsupial likenesses, contributing to the cause of helping save our favourite Aussie fauna.

"I have been a patron of the Koala Preservation Society Australia ever since I met one of the founders, the late Jean Starr, in the early eighties," Williamson said.

"I could not stand by and watch the demise of our precious marsupial around Port Macquarie so I began to pass the hat around my audiences at my concerts and also recorded the song Goodbye Blinky Bill.

"We raised a considerable amount of money and that was donated to the Koala Hospital and enabled them to build a new wing which houses their intensive care unit."

Most may not be aware Williamson is an accomplished visual artist as well as an award winning musician.

"It seemed only natural that I have a go at painting a koala sculpture, he said.

"Ever since I was a kid I have dabbled in art. In fact I have designed and painted some of my album covers.

"If it weren't for my music career, I'm sure I would have pursued art more seriously. I hope I can do the koala justice."

The popular entertainer said there will be stars in the design, as a reminder of Jean Starr and her husband Max.

The Gold Coast resident often has koalas visit his home and will probably be inspired by the evening vista to the west from his cliff top home.

The Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail is a public art project which will see 50 one metre high fibreglass koalas placed strategically throughout the Hastings and its hinterland.

The trail will be a wonderful way for visitors to explore the area and enjoy unique works of art along the way.

The project is designed to promote cultural tourism, environmental sustainability, creative industries and community participation.

Each koala has a corporate or community group sponsor and the trail is auspiced by Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.

The project was conceived by Arts and Health Australia whose executive director, Margret Meagher said the organization is dedicated to advocating the use of the arts and creativity to enhance health and well being.

"Public art is one of the most effective ways to engage members of a community, from childhood to older age and from diverse backgrounds, and encourage interaction, participation and contribution within a community," Mrs Meagher said.

"Everyone loves the koala. So it was a perfect match of cultural tourism, artistic practice, community engagement, arts and health research and an Australian icon with a special local identity."

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