Gayle Beveridge is a past winner of the Boroondara Literary Awards and her work has appeared in Award Winning Australian Writing. Gayle is passionate about family, writing, photography, and with Victoria’s beautiful Bass Coast which she now calls home.
Published November 24th 2021
Murals Aplenty, Bridging the Generation Gap
Murals have become very much 'a thing' these days, murals on silos, on water tanks, on shop walls, and on fences, but they are nothing new. Mirboo North became a mural town in the 1990s when Wonthaggi artist Dennis Leversha painted his first Gippsland wall murals in the town. Mural painting in Mirboo North continues to this day as school students take up the challenge, making this a perfect weekend getaway from Melbourne.
1. The Mechanics Garage–The BP Service Station. At the BP service station at 126 Ridgeway, old truly meets new as on the wall of an old brick building facing the servo. Is a mural of a 1950s mechanic's garage, complete with an FJ Holden up on ramps, a tray of Mobil oil bottles, an Oakland symbol and a Ford logo on the wall, and a Plume petrol pump. A 'keep out' sign hangs from the doorway, as if one might be tempted to step into the past.
2. The Tiger Moth – Next Door to the Servo. Amongst the shops, next to the BP Service Station at 104 Ridgeway, and partly hidden now by a fenced area, is a Tiger Moth crop duster, its wings extending beyond the roofline. Artist Dennis Leversha, built the wings extension not only to give a depiction of the plane in flight but hide the building's skylight to some degree. The fencing hides from view, the hilly landscape beneath the plane and its trail of crop dust, but the mural remains striking to this day.
3. The Mail Cart–Opposite the Post Office. On a wall opposite the Post Office at 100 Ridgeway, another mural by Dennis Leversha depicts a man in a blue suit sitting aboard an open, horse-drawn Royal Mail cart surrounded by bushland indicative of the area. The horse faces away from the road and it appears at any moment they might disappear past the green fence and lush tree behind.
4. The Communtiy Foundation Mural - New and Old. (a) The New Mural–The Community Foundation. As I write this, the latest mural in Mirboo North is well into the planning and is due to be completed in December 2021 at 96 Ridgeway. It is closely linked with the Bullock Dray by Dennis Leversha, which it will be replacing, with Dennis' blessing. The design for this mural is the result of a competition commenced mid 2021 by The Mirboo North and District Community Foundation inviting students in the area to submit designs. The winning student will work with artist Melanie Caple to bring the mural to life in the courtyard of Co-Space. Ruth Rogan of the Community Foundation said "We hope that this project will engage young people in considering their space in the community and how art can help define that." (1)
(b) The Bullock Dray–The Community Foundation Courtyard. On the sidewall of a café by polished wooden seating in front of The Community Foundation at 96 Ridgeway is the Bullock Dray mural. Historically, the first of many murals painted in by Dennis Leversha of Wonthaggi, this 1995 artwork will give way in December 2021 to a fresh mural designed by the youth of the town. When the mural was originally painted, it was incorporated with an actual dray loaded with timber, this was gone some time ago.
5. A Day at the Show–Strezlecki Bakery. On the sidewall of the Strezlecki Bakery at 76 Ridgway, a mural depicts a fun day out at the show; a family picnicking of the grass, a wood chopping competition, and a game of cricket. The playing field is lined by modest huts and backed by a tall hill, lush with bushland. The attire of the picnickers displays a formality we have left in the past, and I can only imagine how uncomfortable and constraining it must have been.
6. Bush Tranquillity–IGA Supermarket. Across the road on the side of the supermarket a tranquil bush scene, men by a stock loading ramp having a relaxing yarn with the rolling hills of Gippsland in the background. Look to the end of the street for a sweeping view of the real Gippsland hills.
7. Shopping in a Past Era–IGA Supermarket. On the front wall of the supermarket at 72/74 Ridgway, behind the trolley return, my favourite, a depiction of an old-time store counter with wares stacked on shelves behind–tins and bottles, hanging meat and an old set of scales. Further along, a man on a ladder hanging a sign is so cleverly painted as to appear real from a distance.
8. Cat in the Window–The Walkway. In a paved garden-lined walkway between Ridgeway (next to the nursery at no. 78) and Baromi Park, a wall is painted as if it has windows. In tones of blue, black and white, the windows are draped with curtains. From one, a small cat peeps out and in another, we see a vase of flowers.
9. Unloading the Barrels - Commercial Hotel. On the sidewall of the hotel at 70 Ridgway, viewed from the supermarket carpark, a mural depicts a spoke-wheeled tray truck laden with beer barrels from the Abbotsford Brewery, a lady in a long dress pushing a pram, and children chatting.
10. The Aussie Bush–52 Ridgeway. On a shop front at 52 Ridgeway is a stylised Aussie bush mural, also by Dennis Leversha, of men resting by a campfire, drinking tea and reading the Weekly Times. They are surrounded by native animals and birds; a kangaroo with a joey in pouch, a wallaby, a possum, a koala, a lyrebird, a kookaburra, a blue wren and a parrot.
11. Children at Play–The Kindergarten. Cast your eye to the kindergarten at 8 Brennan Street, near the corner of Ridgeway to take in a mural adorned with a wonderful scene of children of a past era playing happily in a schoolyard. Some play on the swing, a young girl skips rope, children feed the geese, others dance in a ring and a woman in a long dress watches on from beneath an arch of flowers.
12. School Days of Old–Mirboo North Primary School. On the Strzelecki Highway side of the primary school in Balook Street is a mural, unveiled in 2016, based on old images of the school which were obtained with the help of the Historical Society. In 1988, the students and teachers had produced a mural for the bicentennial, and this current mural springs from that but is produced in a more sustainable format. Artist Helen Locke sketched the design from the old photos, collaborating with Shane Imlach who cut the image from metallic panels.
13. The Last Train–Gone Now. For Mirboo North's murals, 13 is an unlucky number. A mural depicting the last train out of Mirboo North, diesel number Y113, was bricked over in 2020 as the police station building was constructed alongside. For those who would like to reminisce, click here for a photo taken by Graeme Reid in 2005. The last train out of Mirboo North ran on the 22nd of June 1974 and was a special heritage train trip from Melbourne. The hundreds of passengers onboard were treated to speeches and a brass band send-off for the train's departure from the town. Tickets for the trip were printed with "Farewell Mirboo North Line."
These are not the only public artwork in town, but they certainly give you a sense of what to expect. For more of what you will find on a visit to this charming town, click here for my article 'Top 13 Reasons to Visit Mirboo North.'
Getting There, Accommodation and Public Facilities Getting There: Mirboo North is a South Gippsland town, 158kms and around 2 hour's drive from the Melbourne CBD. At just over 100kms from Cranbourne and under an hour and a half's drive, it is an easy day trip for many Melbournians. It can be reached on the South Gippsland and Strzelecki Highway via Leongatha, on the Princes Highway via Trafalgar or Morwell or on Grand Ridge Road via Traralgon or Warragul.
Accommodation: Accommodation options include a farm stay apartment at Café Escargot at Old Nicols Road, which has the added advantage of an on-site restaurant. You can contact them from their website here. Mirboo North Homestyle has two options for cottage accommodation. For pricing and availability of their Forget-Me-Not-Cottage on Brennan Street and their Love-In-The-Mist Cottage on Baromi Road visit their website here. If you prefer a B&B, check out Strathmore Farm and B&B on 2535 Meeniyan-Mirboo North Road. They can be contacted on (03) 5668 1980 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will find other options on Airbnb here or you might like to base yourself in nearby Leongatha.
Public Toilets: Public Toilets are available at Baromi Park on Ridgway (the highway). There are two options with off-street parking available near both.
Fuel and Necessities: You can get fuel at the BP service station on Ridgway and the town also has a variety of shops including a supermarket, post office, chemist, newsagents, bank and library.
1) Quoted from the Mirboo North District Foundation website article 'Design a Mural Competition' June 17 2021.https://mirboodistrictfoundation.org.au/design-a-mural-competition/
Where:Mirboo North is a South Gippsland town, 158kms and around 2 hour’s drive from the Melbourne CBD. At just over 100kms from Cranbourne and under an hour and a half’s drive, it is an easy day trip for many Melbournians. It can be reached on the South Gi
What a great draw card for the town. I read recently that the townspeople of Mirboo North are going even further to make their home a beautiful place and are running 'paint the town' and 'plant the town' working bees.