Gunghas gets its Bunyip!

Gungahlin Al 5 September 2009 12

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, 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.

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12 Responses to Gunghas gets its Bunyip!
Granny Granny 4:08 pm 07 Sep 09

You can get it from the National Library Bookshop, outdoormagoo.

outdoormagoo outdoormagoo 10:16 am 07 Sep 09

Where can I get my son a copy of the book??

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 5:54 am 07 Sep 09

The adjoining college is due to take in year 11 students for the beginning of the 2011 school year, and the library should be open the same time, as it shares between the college and public. So I’d assume the statue timing will be similar.

BTW our meeting on Wednesday will have an update from ACT Education about the college and Harrison High projects.

Granny Granny 12:58 pm 06 Sep 09

Poptop, when Alexander arrives I shall personally invite you to meet him and I’ll even bring a plate of lamingtons with jam and cream and lots of coconut … Alexander’s favourite food apart from triple choc ice cream cones!

Thumper Thumper 11:28 am 06 Sep 09

One of the earliest accounts of the bunyip was in 1821 when Hamilton Hume recovered some large unusual bones from Lake Bathurst in New South Wales. He wrote about the monster that was very much like a hippopotamus and which he and the Philosophical Society of Australasia believed to be evidence of the existence of the Bunyip.

So, it is not outside the bounds of possibility that a bunyip may, just may, still exist in Lake Burley Griffin 😉

poptop poptop 9:54 am 06 Sep 09

But WHEN?!??!?!?

I’m not tracking over the edge of my Canberra Universe until I’m certain Alexander is there to greet me!

Feathergirl Feathergirl 8:31 pm 05 Sep 09

Wow, from small things, big things grow eh? Good work Granny, you should be our arts, education and tourism minister.

Thumper Thumper 5:00 pm 05 Sep 09

This is great. Congratulations to all involved…

Granny Granny 4:33 pm 05 Sep 09

I think one is enough, Trevar!

It could also be great for some of the struggling businesses if the statue draws some of the Gold Creek tourist traffic into the marketplace.

We had a beautiful lunch at a newish Thai place and nobody else was there. At first I thought, “What does everybody else know that we don’t?” but the food was delicious and the service was great. We just need to get a bit more foot traffic through the area.

Hopefully, if we can publicise it well enough, people from interstate and all around Canberra will want to come and see the statue because of the book.

trevar trevar 1:33 pm 05 Sep 09

Hmmm… a post on public art and no one’s threatening to hurl rocks at the minister yet… has the entire galaxy suddenly started spinning in the opposite direction?

Great news about the statue for Gungahlin, but it would be even better to make it a series: one showering under the Captain Cook Memorial Jet; one of him under a net in Tuggeranong; and for that page when he’s going through the desert, we could put him in the dried up pond in Eddison Park!

R. Slicker R. Slicker 10:32 am 05 Sep 09

The Monster That Ate Canberra – now that’s a blast from the past. Next there’ll be a statue of Michael John as Australia’s Santa Claus.

Granny Granny 8:49 am 05 Sep 09

It’s all incredibly exciting! Two generations of our family have already grown up with Alexander Bunyip, and I’ll be reading the story to my grandsons when they’re a little older. I have such fond associations with that character, and there has been that resonance with most people that grew up here. It’s a real Canberra thing. It’s our story.

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