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The Bunyip unveiled

By 13 April 2011 19

bunyip

Jon Stanhope has the thrilling news that Gungahlin’s cherished statue of Alexander the Bunyip (brought about in some part by RiotACT readers) has been officially unveiled (not that we were invited mind you).

The artwork, A is for Alexander, B is for Bunyip, C is for Canberra, by artist Anne Ross was commissioned by the ACT Government for Gungahlin’s $3.8 million town park, which was completed last month.

The sculpture draws inspiration from Michael Salmon’s 1970′s book, The Monster that Ate Canberra, which tells the story of a short-sighted and hungry Bunyip who mistakes Canberra’s national institutions and landmarks for food.

The artwork includes miniature versions of the National Library, Science Museum and Telstra Tower which are among the iconic buildings eaten by the Bunyip throughout the book.

Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said the book was well-known to many Canberrans during the 1970s and 80s.

“The artwork is modelled on the popular children’s book character, Alexander Bunyip, who sparked the imagination of countless children who grew up reading the book, The Monster that Ate Canberra,”
Mr Stanhope said. “The sculpture is a wonderful addition to Gungahlin’s new town park and highlights the importance of literacy and imagination and of playfulness and freedom of thought.”

The idea for the sculpture was first raised by the President of the Gungahlin Community Council, Mr Alan Kerlin, who received support from the community for the proposal.

Does this mean we should start calling Gunghettes “Bunyips” too?

bunyip statue

[Anyone with a pic wanting to send it through to images@the-riotact.com would be appreciated]

UPDATE: Thanks to Anni for sending in the pic, and to Gungahlin Al for the one at the top with the artist on the left and the author on the right.

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19 Responses to The Bunyip unveiled
#1
EvanJames2:20 pm, 13 Apr 11

I still don’t know why they built it in Gunghalin, which wasn’t even thought of when the books were first released. Hell, most of Woden was still new and unknown then. I guess Gunghalin Al did the work, Gunghalin gets the benefit, and maybe it’ll interest the new generation of kids out there to read the books.

#2
Mysteryman3:26 pm, 13 Apr 11

Wow. Great. More public art. Woohoo.

#3
Spectra3:39 pm, 13 Apr 11

The artwork includes miniature versions of the National Library, Science Museum and Telstra Tower which are among the iconic buildings eaten by the Bunyip throughout the book.

The “Science Museum” (by which I presume they mean the National Science and Technology Centre)? Remarkably prescient for a book published in the 1970s…
Also, “Telstra Tower” is officially called “Black Mountain Tower”, and in the 70s (when it was still being built) would have been “Telecom Tower”. So either way, it’s not “Telstra”.

You’d think the chief minister of our city would at least be able to get the names of three landmarks right in a press release, rather than botching two of them.

#4
johnboy3:42 pm, 13 Apr 11

It was the Academy of Science if memory serves.

#5
Spectra3:45 pm, 13 Apr 11

It was the Academy of Science if memory serves.

Could well have been – in which case my second point is even more relevant. Because the Shine Dome, as far as I can see, has never had a museum of any sort in it.

#6
eily4:30 pm, 13 Apr 11

Spectra said :

It was the Academy of Science if memory serves.

Could well have been – in which case my second point is even more relevant. Because the Shine Dome, as far as I can see, has never had a museum of any sort in it.

I think that’s where they used to keep Phar Lap’s heart on show, so there must have been some sort of museum there.

#7
Jack Kirby5:30 pm, 13 Apr 11

Hmmm… From memory:
Black Mountain Tower wasn’t built when the original book was published – and hence didn’t feature – but did feature in the re-release (replacing the National Carillion).
The Shine Dome, on the other hand, appeared in the original book – but was replaced by New Parliament House in the re-release.
The National Library featured in both…

Maybe the artist was trying to appeal to both new and old fans…

#8
Gerry-Built5:38 pm, 13 Apr 11

Best Public art work in Canberra… Now this is public artwork money well spent…

#9
Spectra5:58 pm, 13 Apr 11

eily said :

I think that’s where they used to keep Phar Lap’s heart on show, so there must have been some sort of museum there.

Wikipedia + google tells me that was actually at the Institute of Anatomy, just up the road (which is now the Film and Sound Archive, or ScreenSound). The Shirne Dome page reckons it’s always been home of the Academy of Science.

Jack Kirby said :

Maybe the artist was trying to appeal to both new and old fans…

And good luck to her. Don’t get me wrong, I like the bit of art and have no problem with public art in general – that’s all good.

My complaint is that we have a chief minister who puts out press releases suggesting he doesn’t know squat about the city he’s meant to be running.

#10
deye6:06 pm, 13 Apr 11

Spectra said :

The artwork includes miniature versions of the National Library, Science Museum and Telstra Tower which are among the iconic buildings eaten by the Bunyip throughout the book.

The “Science Museum” (by which I presume they mean the National Science and Technology Centre)? Remarkably prescient for a book published in the 1970s…

It used to be located in the Shine Dome.

What I find funny is that if it is meant to be eating them, shouldn’t it be facing them instead of looking like it’s just dropped them off at the pool ?

#11
Thumper6:30 pm, 13 Apr 11

This is fantastic!

Well done to all involved.

#12
cranky6:54 pm, 13 Apr 11

Or shat them.

#13
wrigbe8:41 pm, 13 Apr 11

Well my 5 year old was delighted to discover Alexander this afternoon. He recognised it instantly from the books as we drove up (I had been keeping it a surprise). I think he will be always happy to visit Gungahlin Library in future years.
Thanks to all involved. It is great to have art work that means something to young and old.

#14
Chaz8:49 pm, 13 Apr 11

I didn’t realise Tim Burton was at the unveiling

#15
EvanJames8:51 am, 14 Apr 11

I haven’t read the books since I was about 6 or 7, but he book a couple of bites out of the Academy of Science, thinking it was a pie, and licked the Carillion, thinking it was a white ice cream pole.

Telecom Tower was built during Malcolm Fraser’s time, it caused a furore that he approved a structure on top of a mountain in Canberra, as back then you weren’t allowed to build things on them. It was called Mal’s Needle for some time as a result. I think the first book was before Fraser’s time.

I didn’t realise the books were re-released featuring different buildings.

#16
luther_bendross9:26 am, 14 Apr 11

Well it’s a helluva lot better than this monstrosity.

#17
colourful sydney rac11:23 am, 14 Apr 11

Mysteryman said :

Wow. Great. More public art. Woohoo.

so what do you want? a bleak canberra full of grey soviet style buildings, concrete everywhere?

#18
Gungahlin Al12:43 pm, 14 Apr 11

colourful sydney racing identity said :

Mysteryman said :

Wow. Great. More public art. Woohoo.

so what do you want? a bleak canberra full of grey soviet style buildings, concrete everywhere?

Even the Soviets had this: http://citypictures.org/r4099.search.htm But not in any city run by Zed it seems…

Thanks all for the positive comments. It looks nice at night too, with the glass bits in the little buildings all lighting up.

About the invite JB: although this is an Arts ACT issue, people on the GCC Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/gungahlin knew about it a few days back. If Gungahlin folk (and interested media) ‘like’ our FB page, you can find out about such events when we do. For instance the opening of our new library should be coming up very soon. And on the FB page you can see a couple of pics I took last night of the bunyip and the library lit up.

#19
chocoholic8:38 pm, 01 Jun 11

I was surprised to find that there weren’t any copies of the book available for borrowing anywhere in Canberra at any of the libraries. A quick library catalogue search found that there was a read-only copy, not for borrowing, at the Heritage Library in Woden. I decided to email Gungers Library about it to see why we could not borrow a copy of the book since the statue outside related directly to the book – our little fella had been asking questions about who the bunyip was and could he please read the book etc. I received an email back from the library saying that they had now purchased some copies of the book that could be borrowed by members of the public. Yay – happy to have done my bit for Gungers and for the literary future of our little people.

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