PHOTOS: Emotional tributes shared at Maryborough mural launch

WE learn about communities and tell their different stories through public art.

A guest reads the storyboard on the Uncle Wilfie mural at the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum. PHOTO: Shaun Ryan.

That is the view of Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour.

Cr Seymour made the comment during the official opening of three murals in Maryborough today.

The murals celebrate the city’s military greats and form part of the impressive Maryborough Mural Project.

The military inspired artworks are all located on the exterior walls of the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum in Wharf Street.

The murals recognise and honour the contributions of Frank Lawrence, Tubby Clayton and Uncle Wilfie to their community and country.

Cr Seymour told scores of people who gathered in the museum’s gardens that “we can be inspired by the three military greats.”

Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour explains the importance of the military greats murals in Maryborough. PHOTO: Shaun Ryan.

“It is important that people know their stories and the city’s history,” he said.

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Maryborough Mural Project co-founder, Deborah Hannam said the trail, which has been nominated as a finalist in the 2020 Australian Street Art Awards, was born out of a desire to boost the Heritage City’s appeal and attract people to the area.

“I am very proud of Maryborough and the trail tells the stories of the city and helps instill pride in the people who live and come from here,” she said.

Maryborough Mural Project co-founder Deborah Hannam welcomes guests to the official opening of the military greats murals in the Heritage City. PHOTO: Shaun Ryan.

Co-founder Elizabeth Lowrie said the overall project, which was conceptualised around seven-years-ago, now consists of 36 completed murals across the city.

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The 37th project is in the process of being produced.

Maryborough Mural Project co-founder Elizabeth Lowrie urges people to walk the mural trail and encourage their friends to do the same. PHOTO: Shaun Ryan.

The Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum’s director John Meyers thanked Ms Hannam and Ms Lowrie for their hard work and dedication in coordinating the mural project and for including the museum.

“We are proud the murals up on our walls and they always generate much interest for the visitors who walk through the facility,” Mr Meyers said.

He explained that visiting school groups were also always told the stories behind the murals.

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Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum director, John Meyers. PHOTO: Shaun Ryan.

Among the dignitaries who spoke at the launch included the relatives and friends of those celebrated in the art.

Ray Geise, a former assistant to Reverend Philip ‘Tubby’ Clayton, said the mural was a wonderful tribute to the man who founded the TOC H Movement at the beginning of World War 1.

Mr Geise said Rev Clayton was one of the most well-known chaplains on the Western Front and helped thousands of people during the war.

“His whole life was dedicated to helping others,” he said.

Mural of Reverend Tubby Clayton. PHOTO: Shaun Ryan.

Frank Lawrence’s sons Tony and Ken said he was a humble man and a loving and caring father.

“He would roll over in his grave if he saw the mural,” said Ken.

“He would have said someone else was more deserving of the honour.”

Tony described how his father’s proudest moment in World War 2 was dropping essential foodstuffs to stranded Dutch communities during Operation Manna.

Frank Lawrence was Maryborough’s most decorated World War 2 veteran.

Frank Lawrence mural. PHOTO: Shaun Ryan.

The third mural tells the story of Wilfred Walter Reeves, affectionately known as Uncle Wilfie.

Butchulla elder and Uncle Wilfie’s nephew, Glen Miller held back tears when he shared the Wondunna family’s delight that he had been included in the project.

“Uncle Wilfie’s contribution was that he served in the military for a country that didn’t even recognise him as a citizen,” he said.

Butchulla elder Glen Miller pays tribute to Uncle Wilfie. PHOTO: Shaun Ryan.

Holding back tears, Mr Miller said Uncle Wilfie was a quiet and humble man.

“He never really spoke about what happened during the war, but like all other Aboriginal men who served, he was largely ignored and neglected,” he said.

Uncle Wilfie served on the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea in 1942.

“He never received the recognition he deserved after returning home. It is a great honour for the Wondunna descendants to know Uncle Wilfie has finally been acknowledged for his service,” Mr Miller said.

The mural is the second depicting the life of Uncle Wilfie.

Another mural on the wall of the Maryborough Library honours his literary achievements.

Uncle Wilfie told the story of The Legends of Moonie Jarl, the first children’s book to be published by an Aboriginal person in Australia.

Meanwhile, Councillor Dennis Chapman said the Maryborough Mural Project had not run its course.

Speaking on behalf of the businesses who sponsored artworks and councillors who helped fund murals through their discretionary funds, Cr Chapman said such projects would not be possible without community support.

“We want to see more people walking the streets of Maryborough, map in hand learning about the different murals,” he said.

“This project will continue to grow.”

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Ms Lowrie urged people to walk the trail and share their experiences with their friends.

“If you’ve seen the murals and liked them, tell people about them. Our aim is for people to visit Maryborough, look at the murals and spend their travel money here, whether at local shops or cafés,” she said.

Cr Seymour said the mural project was important because it told the city’s stories and helped provide work for local artists.

The mayor thanks Ms Hannam and Ms Lowrie for their special contribution to Maryborough’s growing public art scene.

Official welcoming to the mural launch. PHOTO: Shaun Ryan

The artists who produced the Military Greats murals include:

  • Benjamin Higgins (also known as Mr Mupz) – Frank Lawrence mural
  • Akos Juhasz – Tubby Clayton mural
  • Warraba Weatherall – Uncle Wilfie mural.

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