Regal visit to Yarram

Peter Hill

RECOGNITION of the contribution of Victoria’s front line workers and volunteers during the 2019-20 bushfires and 2020 COVID-19 crisis will be an enduring and eye-catching feature of Yarram’s Memorial Gardens thanks to a gift from Victoria’s governor formally handed over on Thursday last week.

Governor of Victoria Linda Dessau unveiled a plaque to commemorate the permanent installation of the mural the governor and her husband Anthony Howard commissioned Melbourne-based Heesco Khosnaran to produce as a gesture of thanks to those who had supported the Victorian community through the 2019-20 summer bushfires and then through the pandemic.

After a period on public display at Government House, the mural has been donated to the Friends of Heesco Town, at the request of Heesco, for installation in Yarram’s Memorial Gardens.

Following a Welcome to Country by Gunnaikurnai elder Uncle Lloyd Hood, Friends of Heesco Town president Wayne Tyndall welcomed a gathering of some hundreds of locals to the ceremony, outlining the development of the project, which has resulted in Yarram’s streetscape and buildings being enhanced with murals created by the world- renowned silo and street artist Heesco Khosnaran.

Mr Tyndall explained how an offer from local farmer Eric Greenaway to underwrite the project of painting 10 murals on private business buildings, on the understanding he would still be able to park his car outside Mr Tindall’s Bull Bar and Gallery, kick-started the venture.

With support from Wellington Shire Council in printing maps and extensive coverage on grey nomad websites, in caravan magazines and tourist guides and on the ABC, the murals have resulted in a massive influx of visitors to Yarram.

“To cut a long story short, the building owners agreed, Eric underwrote it, I designed the murals for the wall owners … Heesco arrived and did his magic,” he said.

“Today there are well over 20 murals to make up Heesco Town … and the community has gotten behind it. It has gone viral right around the world.”

Mr Tyndall pointed out Heesco Town recently won the gold award as the best street art trail in Australia.

“But there is a downside and I am sorry to say there are many days Eric Greenaway is unable to get a car park these days,” he said.

Artist Heesco explained that during his youth in Mongolia in the 1980s he would never have envisaged his life in Australia.

“It is surreal to be standing here. If someone had come up to me and said that one day I would be living in Australia and painting silos, and have a town nicknamed after me, I don’t think I would have believed a word of it,” he said.

The governor was escorted on a tour of the town’s murals by the Friends of Heesco Town.