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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Fawcett-Smith

‘Australia’ Signs Set To Put Caboolture on World Map

Two iconic ‘Australia’ signs from World Expo ’88 have made their way up the Bruce Highway from Arethusa College at Deception Bay to their new home at Caboolture Historical Village.

Listed on TripAdvisor as the second top thing to do in Caboolture behind the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology, Caboolture Historical Village is already a must visit destination for the Moreton Bay Region. Operations Manager, Greg Raedel, is confident that the ‘Australia’ signs, designed for World Expo '88 by renowned Australian artist, Ken Done, are the extra tourism drawcard he’s been seeking.

“I’d been looking for all sorts of things to put us on the map and I couldn’t find anything, and all of a sudden these signs came up for sale,” said Mr Raedel. “Literally the week before they were advertised, Roger Dunstan [President, Caboolture Historical Village] and I had been talking about what was going to happen to them, and saying wouldn’t you love them to come here?”

Weather-worn and in need of repair after spending 30 years outside in the elements, the restoration of the signs to their former glory is dependent on volunteers and donations.

“We have some people here with expertise in sheet metal work and panel beating, and another gentleman has offered his low pressure dust-free sandblaster services,” said Mr Raedel. “We have the expertise, but we have no budget to carry this out.”

Brisbane City Council 2014 Citizen of the Year, Peter Rasey, best known for his chairmanship of the 25th and 30th Anniversary World Expo ’88 People’s Committee, has thrown his support behind the project. The driving force behind re-dedicating and re-siting some of Expo’s art works, Peter is hopeful that the project will result in great synergies between Brisbane City Council’s World Expo '88 Public Art Trail, and the regional drawcard that the signs will afford Caboolture Historical Village.

“The relocation of the signs to Caboolture Historical Village is an iconic event for the Moreton region,” Mr Rasey said. “Regional Queensland needs tourist attractions that stand out for international tourists, and the Ken Done signs do that in spades.”

Positioned outside the Australia Pavilion at Expo ‘88, the brightly coloured signs were among the most photographed artworks at the event. “A lot of people sat their kids in the ‘U’ of the horizontal sign and took photos, including our president, Roger Dunstan, who took a photo of his three children,” said Mr Raedel. “We’d like to see that again.”

Once restored, the signs will be erected at locations within the Village chosen to ensure maximum exposure to passing commuters and Village guests. The horizontal, six-metre tall ‘Australia’ sign will extend along the fence line at the Tuckeroo Drive entrance, creating a new tourist entrance statement for the Village.

The triple-decker ‘Australia’ sign will be positioned opposite the 1955 Queensland Rail Club Diner Car ‘Spirit of the Outback’, which once fully refurbished will be a standalone venue. Fittingly, during evening events, the sign will be illuminated by two Expo ‘88 spotlights, gifted to the Village by the Expo 88 30th Anniversary People’s Committee.

“Having the triple-decker sign in that location will create a feature at the north end of the village,” said Mr Raedel.

The fully refurbished signs will be celebrated at an unveiling ceremony planned for Sunday, October 28. To follow the progress of the project, and for more information on how to volunteer or donate, visit the ‘Save Our Signs’ Facebook page.

Photo by Di Spencer


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