CQ council opens new beach attraction, despite vandalism
The Emu Park foreshore redevelopment program is now complete, with a final flagship monument being installed to top off the five year project.
Five emu sculptures on coloured poles are the newest edition to Kerr Park, providing a quirky foreground to the marvellous view out to the coast.
Livingstone Shire Councillor and healthy and vibrant communities portfolio holder Pat Eastwood said he was happy to be a part of projects like this and Emu Park had come a long way since he moved there in 2002.
"And I look at it now and it's not the same place, and it's fantastic," he said.
The $4.99 million project started in mid-2019 as part of Stage 3 of the redevelopment and was completed with the help of Bendigo Bank's Community Enterprise Foundation funding, and the Emu Park Surf Lifesaving Club.
"The community of Emu Park have always been pro at adding value to the placemaking of the area," he said.
But there was some unfortunate vandalism of the new sight not even a day after the new emus were installed.
Cr Eastwood said he was disappointed and a little bit outraged at what happened.
"It's always disappointing when some members of our community take it upon themselves to destroy something that's enhanced this community," he said.
But they were fixed just in time for the public opening event on Wednesday, April 7.
Mayor Andy Ireland said the council did not have a budget for vandalism and acts like this cost all ratepayers.
He also addressed the controversy around a previous placemaking project, acknowledging these developments were not cheap but they helped make the shire more liveable and helped put it on the map.
Cr Ireland also said the project was supported by Bendigo Bank.
"We copped a fair bit of negative press about the pelicans at the lagoon and the cost of those, and yes they were expensive, and yes these ones aren't cheap either," he said.
"But at the end of the day, that funding comes out of a special budget.
"It doesn't come out of maintenance, it doesn't come out of capital works, it comes out of a specific placemaking budget which is dedicated to this."
Deputy chair of Keppel Financial Services, that runs the Emu Park Bendigo Bank, Kevin Hogan, said he felt over the moon that the redevelopment was complete.
"We've been quite a good financial supporter of the project because being a community bank, that's out focus... to put back into the community," Mr Hogan said.
"We don't have board members paid, it's all volunteers, so we're not like the other banks, we're all community focused so our profits all go back into the community."
He also said he was disappointed the emus were vandalised.
Bill Gannon designed the five emu monuments and hopes they will be seen from all across the world.
He and his son Luke had a few options to choose from, such as a snake or a whale, but ultimately chose the emus due to cost efficiency.
"They look remarkably similar to our 2D designs," he said.
The emus were built with aluminium because other metals tend to fray on the coast, so the attraction won't need to be replaced for at least 100 years.
"They'll last longer than you or I," Mr Gannon said.
"I love to see the kids come."
They were manufactured by Penti-M Engineering from Rockhampton and 25-year-old apprentice Alex Tibbles said unique jobs like these made him want to come to work.
"I'd just like to add that the time that goes into these sorts of jobs isn't to be sneezed at," Mr Tibbles said.
"Taking computer controlled programming is not something many apprentices get to do."
Mr Tibbles worked with Wayne Keleher, who said all the emu heads were individually made and took 13 to 15 hours each to produce.
"We had the machining capabilities, but never had the software to produce these complex five-axis components," Mr Keleher said.
"So we invested in the software and the necessary computing."
After this once-in-a-career project, he said Penti-M was looking for more of this kind of work.
"We don't have any limitations. Whatever your imagination is, we can put it into digital format and have the capabilities through machines," he said.
Cr Eastwood thanked a number of people and organisations including Bendigo Bank, Emu Park RSL, Bill Gannon, and Penti-M.
UPDATE, April 9:
Cr Ireland said the project was part of the foreshore development project, which cost $5 million overall.
Each emu cost about $10,000 each, with 50 per cent of funding coming from the Livingstone Shire Council and the other 50 per cent as a combination of state funding, Bendigo Bank, and other sources.