Mating ritual gives birth to new Neerim South entrance
 Baw Baw News   By // 19:31, Monday 3 June 2013

neerim south entrance new warragul citizen

A NEW public artwork inspired by the mating rituals of the Satin Bowerbird will greet people entering Neerim South after the state government committed $350,000 for its construction.

Pictured: an artist’s impression of what the new entrance will look like. Image from the Regional Arts Victoria website.

Neerim Bower: Inspired by Birds will consist of a number of large posts curving over a road, mimicking a bowerbird’s bower at the southern end of Neerim South.


Satin Bowerbird bowers are made of grass and are decorated with blue ornaments by male birds in an attempt to attract a mate.

Developed by the Neerim District Progress Association with artists Phil Henshall, Christine Cochran and Keith Graham, the artwork is being described as an entrance to the Neerim District.

Funding for the project came from the Victorian Government’s Small Town Transformations program.

A number of community events and programs will begin off the back of the funding announcement, including competitions, student photography, plant propagation and the creation of “blue elements” to join the bower.


The Neerim Bower was one of five regional arts projects to receive funding late last month.

 Get free email updates from the Baw Baw Citizen 

 Read more Baw Baw News  

38 responses to “Mating ritual gives birth to new Neerim South entrance”

  1. Roger Marks says:

    What a complete waste of taxpayers money that would pay for a few more important operations for people on the waiting list.

  2. Adriana Fraser says:

    I agree Roger. And detract from the natural beauty of the area with an art installation? We can’t improve on nature in Neerim South! This is better suited to a community park.

  3. Kylie says:

    I’m all for artworks, and I actually quite like the look of this one, but honestly $350,000? Surely this could be better spent feeding and housing the homeless, caring for families who can’t make ends meet, or even in overseas aid. Very selfish use of money.

  4. Kim says:

    I for one think this it is completely hideous. Art????? I think not. I hope they don’t ruin our little town. It is beautiful just the way it is.

  5. lynda says:

    $350,000? Shame, Victoria Government. A heartless waste of money when there are so many genuine needs in this community. The natural beauty in this area speaks for itself. We don’t need this rubbish

  6. Mark says:

    Governments allocate funding for sport, parks, tourism and the arts amongst the many things they fund because they have been shown to be valuable in building economies, resilience in communities and promoting a healthy population, amongst other things.

    Regional Arts Victoria, SMALL TOWNS TRANSFORMATIONS on behalf of the Victorian Government is designed to promote 5 small Victorian towns, by giving them the opportunity to enhance their identity, develop community pride, raise their profile and attract attention and visitors from far and wide. All of these things contribute to building resilience and health in their respective communities.

    Neerim District Progress Association Inc. was one of five successful applicants for the grant. Our application proposes public art, refined and developed from the Artist’s sketch, depicted; community workshops, an artist in residence program for the secondary college, arts programs for local schools bringing the schools in our district together to celebrate art and their community, a biennial festival and arts prizes that will bring visitors and add sculpture to our public spaces, enhancements to our wetlands project and finally build vibrancy and resilience in our economy and the community.

    A small group of committed volunteers committed over 500 hours of their time to apply for the grant and obtain promises of more than $150,000 of contributions from local businesses. If the Progress Association had not done this then the benefits of the program would have simply gone to another town, not to our hospital and not our roads.

    Mark Long, Secretary
    Neerim District Progress Association

  7. Ian says:

    I concur with Kim’s comment that this proposed ‘artwork’ is indeed hideous. It’s somewhat reminiscent of other (equally kitsch) installations at the entrance of other towns, think The Big Worm, The Big Banana, The Big Pineapple et al.

    How anyone could think that the placement of such a monstrosity would be a positive addition to the gateway to the pretty little town of Neerim South is beyond belief.

  8. Ian says:

    Horrendous,horrible, hideous. Shame so few of the 500 hours went into asking the community if they wanted a big red thing plonked at the entrance of the town.

  9. Colin says:

    I’m with everybody who thinks this is hideous.What’s it going to be made of?

    Looks really dangerous to me, perfect highway death trap, so what’s the progress association going to say when a car load kids plows into it?

  10. Roger Marks says:

    As one who understands the political windbagging, Mark Long needs to take a course in plain speak.

    Spending 350,000 on an artwork not needed is going to promote a healthy population?

    Mark what would promote a healthy population is better hospital services, which are desperately short of funds.

    And then there is the bit about it building resilience (roll of the eyes).

    With councils slugging us at every opportunity with higher and higher rates, we have plenty to make us resilient Mark.

    And art work building economies? What will build economies is favourable employment laws; attracting businesses to the town; getting rid of the butter factory monstrosity.

    Perhaps Mark, if you learnt to speak in simple lingo, you would realise that the answers are simple.

  11. Judy Gleeson says:

    The Lyrebird is more widely identified with Neerim district, the Bower is a relatively new comer. The Lyrebird is symbolic of the Neerim District Lions Club Inc., the only Service Club in this district. I suggested to a member of the Progress Assoc. the Lyrebird be incorporated into the entry plans, the answer was NO without it even being tabled at a meeting. I then asked could the Lyrebird be incorporated into the walk to the wetlands, again NO, but if the Lions Club had a 2 demensional Lyrebird made, it could perhaps be on show on a rotational basis at the local art gallery.

  12. Judy Gleeson says:

    President NDLC

  13. Colin says:

    I’m sorry to hear about the treatment the Lions Club got – what is the “walk” you mention. You would have thought that the Progress Association would have made sure that all sections of such a small community was completely happy with the proposal

  14. Judy Gleeson says:

    Colin, the “walk” I mentioned is a walk way down to the, as yet undeveloped wetlands at Neerim South. This is being developed by the Landcare Group. The Progress Assoc is having artistic displays and three demensional birds aligning this. I have just received a phone call from Phillipa who has apologised to the Neerim District Lions Club for her “moment of madness” and we are now able to display our Lyrebird emblem on the pathway to the Wetlands.
    Judy Gleeson
    President, Neerim District Lions Club Inc.

  15. Colin says:

    Judy – Sounds like something from the scary Hitchcock film “the Birds”. Can’t say I like what’s being planned for Neerim South, I was seriously thinking of retiring there or thereabouts – I like it just as it is, so maybe I’ll have to rethink things now. A word of advice, get your club a good spot on the walk and then leave it until the last minute before you set up your bird – that way you can chicken out if the whole project is a flop

  16. Catie says:

    Does anybody know why the Information Night scheduled for Wednesday 19th of June @7.30 at the Neerim South Hall has been changed to a Celebration Night beginning at 6.30?

  17. Scott says:

    Not supported by this resident. Money better spent developing facilities etc.

  18. Louise Maguire says:

    This has just been brought to my attention. I am speechless. Anyone who thinks this monstrosity suits the area should be living in the city, not here. it is reminiscent of the ridiculous metalwork over the Tullamarine Freeway. Aesthetically grating and hardly in keeping with the character of Neerim South. Noooooo!!!!! Wreckers be gone!

  19. Philip Maguire says:

    $350,000 for that monstrosity?

    That is money that could be better spent extending the Neerim South Hall to cater for community performances or perhaps for some other practical art facility that would unite the community not divide it.

    To impose this rubbish upon the district with no discussion is not on.

  20. Philip Maguire says:

    Mark Long said: “Our application proposes public art, refined and developed from the Artist’s sketch, depicted; community workshops, an artist in residence program for the secondary college, arts programs for local schools bringing the schools in our district together to celebrate art and their community, a biennial festival and arts prizes that will bring visitors and add sculpture to our public spaces, enhancements to our wetlands project and finally build vibrancy and resilience in our economy and the community.

    That’s a lot of rubbish, Mark. Take it to Nillumbik or some other green/gay/socialist/wanker shire or city and leave us alone.

    An artist in residence program for the Secondary College, arts programs for local schools. Enough! How about concentrating on educating our kids instead of turning them into arty farty freaks who rely on public funding to support themselves.

    Country people have had enough of that kind of BS.

  21. Colin says:

    I can’t remember if the bit of road that they intend to wreck is 60k or 80k, it makes a lot of difference, 60k zone is generally Shire responsibility up to the 60k sign is Vic Roads, I know for fact that Vic Roads just wouldn’t let this happen on their patch – Philip, agreed -if kids artwork of any kind gets used in this project then the kids should get paid proper wages otherwise it’s just a very big rip-off and that isn’t good education

  22. Judy Gleeson says:

    To all Residents of Neerim South and surrounding Districts.
    A meeting will be held at J.D. Algie Hall on Thursday
    20th June 2013 at 3pm.
    A representative from Baw Baw Shire will be
    In attendance to discuss issues affecting our local community,
    Including the concerns regarding the “Bower project.”

  23. Louise Maguire says:

    If the pic is accurate, it’s just before the 60kph zone. Very near some overhead wires. A member of my family will be at the meeting. Thanks Judy.

  24. Colin says:

    Sorry – I can’t make it to the meeting as I’ll be interstate on business all this week. I’ve just read an interesting comment on Baw Baw Shire’s facebook, there’s a bloke saying that what goes on in Neerim South is the Shire’s responsibility not the arts organisation, so the Shire has final say on whether this bunch of horrors goes ahead

  25. Julie says:

    Reminds me of the ugly rusting structure over the Hume freeway and now this will confront us every time we drive into our naturally scenic town for a very long time.
    There are places for art in its many forms, but the entry/exit to our town is not one. In this climate change & environmentally friendly era, it appears the artists are taking over our natural beauty. What a blight on our landscape. It seems to be wonderful from an artist’s perspective but what about the majority of our community? Please find another location.

  26. Helena says:

    It finally happened, the A4 paper and printer were used to inform residents that there is a celebration in out town, organised by the Progress Association. How disappointing that the same was not done for the 2 meetings held in the past regarding the Bower Project. Maybe then, we would have had an accurate idea of what residents of this district want.

  27. Colin says:

    Sunday lunch with the son-in-law was very interesting today, evidently since my day everything to do with road design in Aus is now national and Ausroads is the peak body, the key words covering the proposed Bower bird sculpture/monstrosity are frangible and non-frangible!!! broadly speaking breakable and non-breakable, the rules are national and it would look to me as if this project is well and truly dead in the water because of the national road rules, hitting fixed object beside the road is No:1 killer. Son-in-law is going to send me link to the actual documents!!

    Smart move for the Progress Association would be to have a party to celebrate their win but then announce that they aren’t going any further, give the money back, and life goes back to normal in Neerim S

  28. Judy Gleeson says:

    The Bower bird is a relative newcomer to our district, being a native of the Riverina area, the Lyrebird was first “discovered” here in the late 1800’s and in spite of being a very shy bird, is still seen in abundance in our local bushland.

  29. Judy Gleeson says:

    The Bower Bird will push aside and repell anything added to their mating site, touched by human hand. What good will the art work by local schools achieve. Please, progess assoc. research indepth your current plans to involve the local schools in your bower contruction.

  30. Louise Maguire says:

    What a shame the ‘benefits’ of the 500 hours did not go to some other place.Let some other poor place be the benefit of this version of the Yellow Peril.I still can’t believe anyone thinks this is either clever or attractive. Scratches head.

  31. Helena says:

    If there is money for artistic displays how about bringing back our Christmas decorations at Christmas-time that we no longer seem to be able to afford

  32. Ian Muir says:

    I hope that there will be distinctive features that will clearly distinguish the feature from the miles of over-arching trees which one passes under on the way to Neerim South.
    We really needed more imagination.

  33. Colin says:

    About the only way that a safe bower bird feature could be made at the entrance to Neerim South is to paint the existing trees to look a bit like the sculpture illustrated above, my idea, you can’t use it, cost $50,000, a big cost saving!

    It would still look rather ugly but I’m sure the tourists would love it 🙂

  34. Colin says:

    Any news about the meeting with Baw Baw Shire?

  35. J Nadge says:

    Would much rather see that $350k invested into the dipalidated roads in the area! That much money should be invested in the safety of the people travelling on those roads before erecting pretty decorations.

  36. Colin says:

    Copy and paste link if it doesn’t work here,

    I stumbled across what looks to be a new version of the idea on a website set up by the project’s winners. It would appear that they are beginning to realize that they’ve got big problems getting their ideas past VicRoads.

    I reckon the new version looks like die-back on a grand scale

  37. Colin says:

    It looks as if Neerim South has been beaten to the punch. Page 9 Frankston Leader. And just a note: exhibitions like this would have been planned and booked at least 18 months ago

  38. Marilyn says:

    We are new arrivals to the area and were drawn by the natural beauty everywhere here. I would like to show respect for the hours of work and initiative in planning applying and accepting a grant for an Arts Project in our area by the volunteers of the Profress Association. All the supporting projects will enliven the economy and cultural life and plan for the future. I would like the committee to reconsider the gateway art, perhaps to a scale that does not intrude on the area but unfolds it more sympathetically. Beautifully planted trees with modest sculptures may be more in keeping with the areas strengths. I would also suggest a weekend gathering for future consultation to include all who live in the area and at a time that encourages discussion and collaboration not at the end of a days work. Most importantly is caribg for cooperation and respect to keep our community happy and connected through mutual trust for wellbeing for individuals and community spirit.