Australia’s list of ‘Big Things’ could soon have a new addition after Central Coast Council voted in support of Councillor Bruce McLachlan’s motion for a giant pelican for The Entrance, during the ordinary meeting on September 9.
The motion was the final one to be aired after a marathon five-and-a-half-hour meeting and attracted snickers and the like from the public gallery and some Councillors.
Cr McLachlan introduced the motion which would see some iteration of a giant pelican erected at The Entrance to replace the existing Percy the Pelican statue which has aged poorly and is virtually unrecognisable, with Cr McLachlan describing it as a “sandstone blob.”
Cr McLachlan said such a statue, or similar piece of public art, could be just the ticket to tapping into a whole new vein of tourism for The Entrance.
Aside from its role as an icon, Cr McLachlan stressed that his proposal was not simply about having a gawdy statue erected, but a real push to have a major regional attraction and art installation enshrined in the area.
“The world record tallest pelican is just 15.5ft (4.7m) in the United States.
“We could easily smash that and claim a new world record for The Entrance.
“This proposal will allow our creative community an opportunity to design a world class pelican artwork at a new world record height, with potential to become an invaluable educational resource that puts our iconic Pelican Feed on the world map,” he said.
Cr McLachlan then showed examples of other successful sculptural art pieces that had reinvigorated their area, including The Kelpies in Scotland, again stressing the fact this his motion was for a genuine tourist attraction and educational/artistic resource.
“It’s always easier to build on your existing strengths than pray that something new comes along.
“If The Entrance is going to be known for its Pelican Feed, then let’s make it a world class educational, interactive nature show,” Cr McLachlan said.
Since announcing his proposal Cr McLachlan said it had copped some criticism but said naysayers were either not looking at the bigger picture or were caught up in a media beat-up.
“It’s been a tough crowd and the proposal hasn’t been helped by media running images of big, gawky pelican statues.
“The actual proposal is for a public sculpture work, not a tacky pelican.
“But hey, when was The Entrance last featured in national media?
“It’s doing its job already, promoting the Pelican Feed, and it’s good news that we finally have The Entrance on Council’s agenda, for a change,” he said.
Crs Jilly Pilon and Troy Marquart spoke in support of the motion.
Both applauded Cr McLachlan for his continued efforts to bring about revitalisation to The Entrance’s tourism and small business sectors and spoke in his defence, given the public scrutiny he had faced since launching the proposal.
Crs Kyle MacGregor and Jillian Hogan spoke against the motion, with Cr MacGregor stating the proposal was nothing more than a media stunt that would have no lasting benefits for The Entrance community.
He went on to say that the real issue facing The Entrance and its recent tourism decline was the exorbitant price of rent that small business owners in the area faced.
Cr Hogan argued that the bill for this project would blow out regardless of the approach taken and that she couldn’t in good conscience support it, given that the Coast already had a ‘Big Thing’ in Ploddy the Dinosaur, and that communities were still crying out for basic infrastructure that fell under the traditional local government banner of roads, rates and rubbish.
Mayor Jane Smith said she was not opposed to the motion but wanted more information, particularly around costing, concept plans and the legalities of the proposal, given a similar proposal more than 10 years prior almost saw Wyong Shire Council sued by Noosaville in Queensland, who have their own Big Pelican.
It was raised that $50,000 allocated in the budget to replace Percy the Pelican could be utilised under this motion.
The debate was concluded by Cr McLachlan who insisted that regardless of the how, something needed to be done to reinvigorate The Entrance.
All Councillors voted in support of the motion except Crs MacGregor, Hogan, Richard Mehrtens and Doug Vincent.
It was concurred that Expressions of Interest be tendered for a design that should ensure: Create an artistic, educational, landmark pelican statue, that can have an educational environmental message, as well as achieving a new world record for The Entrance, and the Central Coast.
Any design be of artistic endeavour, thought provoking and educational to the impacts of plastic on our local birdlife, and can be a showcase for our local school children to visit on marine study events, as well as a fun selfie landmark, for social media promotion of The Entrance; and that any design demonstrate environmental and educational qualities.
Website, Sep 1-8
Bruce McLachlan, Official Facebook page
Ordinary meeting, Sep 9
Central Coast Council
Dilon Luke, Journalist