Photography obsessed writer and urban explorer. Lover of nature, art and long weekends. Adelaide, South Australia.
Published November 14th 2013
Don't stomp on this cockroach
For years, when heading to the Yorke Peninsula for a long weekend of sun, fishing and relaxation, we knew we were really on the way when we went past the Protest Sculptures at Lower Light on Port Wakefield Road. The city was behind us and from there on in it was ahhhhhhhhhhhh.............
Lower Light is 50kms north of Adelaide on National Highway 1
Back in the 1990's the area was earmarked to have a large waste dump built. Locals were concerned about the negative impact that the landfill and dumping would cause to the fragile environment. The Gulf St Vincent is the 4th most important shore-bird site in Australia and, in South Australia, is second to the Coorong for it's environmental importance.
The statues, made from farming scrap metal, were built as a very public protest to the South Australian government's plans. First built was the Tin Man, then the Environmental Observer and then came the Cockroach. Over time, a whole series of interesting and quirky sculptures appeared, including a rat, a toilet and a spaceship. The rat and cockroach represent the politicians of the time, the toilet as to the future cleanliness of the coastal waters and past Premier John Olsen was represented as Ned Kelly.
It's now 15 years later and we have that dump at Dublin, but not without major awareness and policy change about what is dumped, where and how. And the sculptures still stand. Without the care and attention of the local landowners, they should have rusted and faded away years ago. These days they are a real talking point, interesting local attraction and a brilliant visual reminder about standing up and having a voice about the environment and conservation.
Creator Steve Jones, Kevin and Christine Lawrence, Terry Keen, Wendy and Wolf Pfeiffer, Mr Jones' daughter Alice and mother Kathleen, built the sculptures. Steve Jones won an Environmental Protection award in 2003 for his work with the sculptures. Chris and Kevin have looked after the quirky attraction and have kept them looking good for us. Mr and Mrs Lawrence are now approaching their 70s and are still as committed to the sculptures as ever.
Back in 2009 Democrats MLC David Winderlich nominated the statues for heritage listing. "For over 10 years South Australians have been driving past the eccentric collection of statues on Port Wakefield Road," he said. "They are a world class collection of political protest art and should be preserved for future generations."
I love the sculptures and always think I have a favourite, until I go past again and I favour a different one. Hopefully they'll be there long enough for my grandchildren to decide which one is their favourite too.
Word of warning if you are planning to visit the sculptures and see them for yourself. Port Wakefield Road (National Highway No 1) is an extraordinarily busy road with 6 lanes of traffic travelling at high speed. Please take lots of care when stopping and moving around on the grass verge.