This colourful tribute to the Dong Sisters, Maud and Ellen, who ran a fruit and vegetable shop in Maryborough from 1915 until 1956 is part of the Maryborough Mural Project. The mural by artist Dan Krause is on the wall behind Beemart in Ellena Street.
This colourful tribute to the Dong Sisters, Maud and Ellen, who ran a fruit and vegetable shop in Maryborough from 1915 until 1956 is part of the Maryborough Mural Project. The mural by artist Dan Krause is on the wall behind Beemart in Ellena Street.

‘We have a $1 million asset – let’s show it off’

THE walls of Maryborough's CBD are adorned with $1 million of tourism gold.

Now it's time to really start showing it off.

This is the view of Elizabeth Lowrie, one of the founders of the Maryborough Mural Project.

She told the Chronicle Maryborough had made significant progress in establishing itself as an art and history tourism powerhouse.

A renewed effort to promote the Heritage City as a tourist destination in its own right was now needed, she said.

"What we need now is a concerted effort to publicise what Maryborough has to offer and then it will have a momentum of its own," Ms Lowrie said.

She said the 2km mural trail, comprised of 37 artworks with two more planned, has "significantly increased" foot traffic in the CBD, based on anecdotal evidence.

Getting hard data on visitation was difficult, she said.

"People tell us they see people walking around town with the trail map but we don't have any numbers," she said.

"One of the problems is getting statistics. The numbers are increasing but we don't have a breakdown on Maryborough.

"What would be really good is if there was a feedback form to give a breakdown of people who visited Maryborough."

MARYBOROUGH MURALS: Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien and Maryborough Mural Project member Elizabeth Lowrie discuss the Under Sea mural in Maryborough. Photo: Stuart Fast
MARYBOROUGH MURALS: Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien and Maryborough Mural Project member Elizabeth Lowrie discuss the Under Sea mural in Maryborough. Photo: Stuart Fast

Ms Lowrie said the average cost of each mural, taking into account artist costs and insurance, among other things, was $25,000.

With 37 murals, that puts the cost of the project so far at $925,000, mostly sponsored by local businesses.

Ms Lowrie said a community-driven project worth almost $1 million was worth showing off.

"The community has made a big investment. We should push Maryborough as a tourism destination," she said.

Ms Lowrie said the council and Fraser Coast Tourism and Events had offered support in promoting the trail - for example, a billboard campaign spruiks Maryborough as "the home of Mary Poppins and murals".

As an entirely volunteer-run initiative with no consistent source of income, however, she said the project needed more support and exposure.

This was especially true at the moment as visitors started flocking to Hervey Bay after months in lockdown, she said.

"People have been at home with COVID-19 and what they want is an outdoor holiday at the beach but don't forget there are museums and a 2km mural trail," Ms Lowrie said.

Watch this space

Two new murals are currently planned for the trail.

One is called Guardians of the Land, which will be painted on the St Mary's Catholic Parish grounds.

It will be a mural paying respect to the Butchulla people and culture.

Parish council finance chairman Gary Pettiford said the mural would be painted alongside existing artwork of St Mary MacKillop, visible from Adelaide St.

The intended mural has been designed by artist Barabra Trevaskis, and represents Indigenous Australians and subsequent generations of Australians who have arrived, now walking the land together.

The other will be called Feather in the Cap, dedicated to local identity Alison Coleman.

This artwork will be sponsored by Councillor Daniel Sanderson.

Ms Coleman worked on the council and was a well-known marathon runner.

The title of the mural references not only Ms Coleman's many achievements but her "iconic hat", Ms Lowrie said.