A 4.5 metre high 700 kilogram big koala may be expected to create fear but for the residents of the Bundaberg Region today the giant marsupial simply generated smiles and quizzical looks.
The carefully crafted Australian icon is the work of sculptor Dr Farvardin Daliri and made an overnight stop in Bundaberg.
The creation, anchored atop a trailer, is being hauled from Brisbane to Townsville for the Townsville Cultural Fest to be held in August. The koala left Brisbane on Tuesday for its 1300km trip north.
Dr Daliri developed the concept of the Townsville Festival and this year is the 25th anniversary.
Who doesn’t love a koala?
Justly proud of his creation he claims that it is an obvious Australian symbol of peace and unity. “It’s a message of love – who doesn’t love a koala?” he asked.
The entourage, which will make several community stops on the journey north, was met at Buss Park by Cr Steve Cooper.
Cr Cooper said the playful nature of the sculpture was a wonderful means of bringing some joy into the city of Townsville, which was recently impacted by devastating floods.
“Bundaberg certainly has empathy with the people of Townsville given the impact the 2013 flood event had on our community,” he said.
“We know Townsville supported us during that time and I want people to hear the message that the community of Townsville is in the hearts and minds of us all. Perhaps we can send some visitors their way during their festival.”
Flip the Reading Turtle meets big koala
Also on hand to welcome the mammoth marsupial was a Bundaberg icon, Flip the Reading Turtle.
The team accompanying Dr Daliri are filming a documentary of the journey to Townsville and Bundaberg’s key visitor emblem, the turtle, featured prominently in their filming.
Asked if Bundaberg may develop something iconic to the region as a giant promotional character, Cr Cooper said the turtle was currently filling the role, although not giant sized.
“I guess that’s food for thought for the Council and community,” said Cr Cooper.
Dr Daliri is known for his large scale art works which include depictions of Ned Kelly, Slim Dusty and North Queensland rugby league legend Johnathan Thurston.
The mighty koala also took in a brief stop at Bundaberg Brewed Drinks with Dr Daliri confessing that he was huge fan of Bundaberg Ginger Beer.
Having stopped at Maroochydore and now Bundaberg, the furry festival favourite will also visit Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay and Bowen on its trek north.