And it all started here on RiotACT…
‘Alexander Bunyip’ from the famous children’s book The Monster that ate Canberra will be immortalised in bronze outside the new Gungahlin Library.
The Gungahlin Community Council’s campaign for a public art piece recognising the popular children’s book by Michael Salmon has been successful, with ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope approving the idea for a sculpture.
This is the book that introduced many Canberra children to reading, by allowing us to relate the book back to local monuments we knew so well.
GCC suggested such a statue would be ideally located outside the new Gungahlin Library currently under construction on the corner of Hibberson and Gozzard Streets in the Gungahlin town centre.
From this location, pedestrians can look down Gozzard Street straight to the Telstra Tower on Black Mountain, which Alexander Bunyip thought was a “double yum ice cream sundae with nuts on top” and so proceeded to eat it.
“I am taken with the Gungahlin Community Council’s proposal and believe an artfully executed sculpture of the bunyip placed outside the new Gungahlin Library would be a very popular addition to the town centre’s landscape,” said Jon Stanhope in his reply.
“The bunyip is certainly an icon for those of us who lived in Canberra during the 1970s and 80s, and still features prominently on the shelves of our public libraries,” he said.
The idea for the statue came during a debate right here on RiotACT.
Granny said “I reckon we should get a statue of that iconic Canberra legend Alexander Bunyip, The Monster That Ate Canberra.”
I said “I’m picturing a statue of the bunyip biting a chunk out of the Telstra Tower, placed outside the new Gungahlin library! A tribute if you like to the book’s role in teaching kids to read.”
We went on to promote the idea through our website gcc.asn.au, our community newsletter Gungahlin Smokesignals, children’s colouring competitions, and even sent copies of the book to Andrew Barr and Jon Stanhope. The idea met with strong support across the board, striking a chord with both adults and children.
Author Michael Salmon soon found out about the idea, and has actively supported the campaign with books for competition prizes and promotion.
The early years of a child’s education are critical, and a strong start to reading is the cornerstone of that education. If this statue helps foster more early reading, we will have achieved our goal by creating a lasting legacy.
Michael Salmon, author of The Monster that ate Canberra visited students of Harrison School today for National Reading Day. Around 100 children from all grades heard how Michael grew up in Canberra getting into trouble in class for always cartooning, and how he took his first print run of The Monster that ate Canberra around Canberra newsagents trying to get sales. It wasn’t until the Scullin Newsagent agreed to take three copies (which were gone be the next day) that the book took off.
Michael drew cartoons for the kids at Harrison, and drew some of some of the kids too, which led to laughs all around from their classmates.