“Thoughtful street art is like good fiction – it speaks out on behalf of everyone, for us all to see” - Carla H. Krueger, author and literary artist
I wonder if Carla was looking at the Narrandera Water Tower Mural when she wrote these words, because the sentiment reflects this work perfectly.
One community, five professional artists and a committed local Council has resulted in one mighty mega mural that has attracted thousands of additional visitors and created a whole new tourism precinct.
That's a very impressive equation and one that saw the Narrandera Water Tower named as Australia's Best Mega Mural.
According to Narrandera Tourism, by September last year (a few short months after the mural was completed), 40% of all visitors to this New South Wales Riverina town stated that the sole purpose of visiting was to see this 20 metre-high mural.
Maybe a little ironically, what each of those tourists found was a collage that showcases all the other reasons to visit Narrandera plus what the local community love about where they live. In fact, the six major elements to this mural combine to create an aesthetically pleasing introduction to the town and surrounds.
The eastern bearded dragon represents the Wiradjuri word for the area which means place of many dragons.
The koala showcases how there is now hundreds in the area after the community established a reserve way back in 1972.
The tiger moth is a tribute to the Narendra number eight Elementary Flight Training School where many Australian World War two pilots found their wings.
The paddle steamer represents all of the boats that have plied the Murrumbidgee River, such as the 75-ton PS Wagga Wagga which ran along the waterway for more than 40 years.
The Oakbank Brewery on the north river bank, where Webster soft drinks were once made, is also featured on the mural. Now a private residence, the outside is still magnificent with its 30-metre-high factory tower.
And, of course, there's the river itself, where visitors can enjoy an array of gentle water activities.
Apparition Media, a specialist mural advertising company, worked with the community to design the intricate multi-faceted design before their artists swarmed onto site to transform the water tower.
This mural is in the round with the main montages facing south and north-north-east. So, while anytime is great to see the mural, our tip is that the lizard is best photographed in the morning.
The addition of walking paths, interpretive signage, seating and parking spaces, including long bays for RVs, has created a new precinct that boasts panoramic views of the town. Sunset is a dream from up there.
Our judges remarked that this mural screams "Regional Australia", "Indigenous Culture", "Unique Environment" and "Community” – a ripper combination that makes it a must inclusion on your next road trip.
And there’s much more to see on that trip because the mural forms part of the Riverina Outdoor Art Trail, which links the thriving cities of Wagga Wagga and Griffith to pretty towns and villages via an ever-growing collection of murals and sculptures.
That includes other mega murals, such as the stunning Weethalle silo art (the first in NSW, pictured below) by Heesco, Lockhart’s water tower mural featuring local native fauna by Scott Nagy and Krimsone, and the new Milbrulong water tower (also y Scott Nagy and Krimsone) just outside Lockhart.
At each end of the trail Wagga Wagga and Griffith both have street art precincts with multiple contemporary murals.
There’s also tributes to sports stars, with the Cootamundra Cricket Captains Walk (image below) and the Big Tennis Racket which soars over Barellan paying tribute to Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, who grew up and learned in the town. The hitting wall where she practised still remains too!
Looking for a second place to stop on route? One of our favourites is Ariah Park, which boasts the Wheat Lumper statue as a tribute to the wheat lumping era (where the grain was crammed into heavy hessian bags and carried over shoulders) plus a fabulous community campground (below) smack in the heart of town.
Operated by the Ariah Park Community Projects Committee, the campground offers powered sites, toilets, showers, camp kitchen, free BBQ, washing machine and a fabulous array of little touches that will make you smile - golf clubs to be enjoyed at the course across the road, tennis racquets for the nearby court, and even tea, coffee and sugar for a small donation. Perfect for a few days of artful R&R!