Port Macquarie’s iconic Hello Koala Sculpture Trail has welcomed its newest addition, Frankie Firefighter, paying homage to the incredible work of NSW’s Fire Services.17 August 2020
The new sculpture was funded by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, and has been unveiled by Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres and Member for Port Macquarie, Leslie Williams today.
Frankie Firefighter is the 77th Hello Koalas sculpture and joins the free, award-winning sculpture trail that champions tourism and conservation awareness throughout Port Macquarie and surrounds.
The Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail has attracted hundreds of thousands of people to the area since launching in 2014, inspiring visitors through the expression of creativity and community spirit.
“During the devastating bushfire season NSW and Australia endured this past summer, the world’s attention turned to the outstanding work of the state’s FireServices and the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital to save the precious lives and homes of our people and our koalas,” Minister Ayres said.
“With this increased interest it was fitting for us to celebrate the tenacity, courage and generosity of these services through this unique and popular tourism attraction, the Hello Koala sculptures.
“I’m sure Frankie Firefighter will be an adored addition to the Hello Koalas family and will start conversations with visitors from near and far about the region and its inhabitants - both human and koala.”
Member for Port Macquarie, Leslie Williams said Frankie Firefighter would be a wonderful highlight for visitors and will be on public display for the upcoming Hello Koalas Festival, scheduled to take place on 26 and 27 September 2020.
“The Hello Koalas are loved by visitors and locals equally - they are members of our community and have generated a lot of awareness for Port Macquarie through visitation and media and social media coverage,” Mrs Williams said.
“The Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail was recognised as the state’s top cultural attraction at the 2019 NSW Tourism Awards, winning gold, and the interest just continues to grow.
“The Festival is a wonderful way to raise morale and inspire locals and visitors to get out and support local businesses. Anyone planning to come to the 4th annual Hello Koalas Festival will be able to see Frankie Firefighter firsthand, and we respectfully remind visitors to practice COVID-safe behaviour, check the festival program for the latest information and refer to NSW.gov.au for the latest health advice,” Mrs Williams said.
Hello Koalas sculptures also tour regularly, including recent visits to Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden and the Australian National Botanic gardens in Canberra, promoting the Sculpture Trail in Port Macquarie and linking to the stories of the local area.
After a long-standing career in the arts and tourism, Hello Koalas project director Margret Meagher moved to Port Macquarie in 2006 and developed the idea of a public sculpture trail centred around the region’s large koala population. It has been her dream to create a firefighter sculpture, which was realised through the work of Port Macquarie artists Kim and Wayne Staples.
“The recent bushfires encouraged me to return to this idea and create a sculpture which would honour and celebrate local men and women who fought valiantly to protect our community,” Ms Meagher said.
“I was also keen to recognise all firefighters in Australia including members of the Fire and Rescue brigades, Rural Fire Services, SES, NSW National Parks, Forestry NSW.”
For information about the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail and Hello Koalas Festival, visit www.hellokoalas.com
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