Great Southern Reef Mural at Western Suburbs Pool

NSW Ports Community Grant supports Great Southern Reef mural

NSW Ports Community Grant supports Great Southern Reef mural

A 45-metre urban mural inspired by the Illawarra’s Great Southern Reef has been officially unveiled in Unanderra today as part of the NSW Ports Community Grants Program.

The $20,000 grant was awarded to Ms. Allison Broad at the University of Wollongong’s Centre for Sustainable Ecosystem Solutions (CSES); a Centre that conducts innovative research to help support and enhance environmental management in the region.

The Centre worked with multidisciplinary artist Karla Hayes to install a large mural at the Western Suburbs Pool as part of its grant project – the design of which was inspired by its research of the vibrant marine habitat that comprises the Great Southern Reef.

NSW Ports General Manager, Strategy and Corporate Affairs Jon Stewart said the business was proud to support the major public art project to promote the university’s important environmental research while giving the community a greater insight into their local reef.

“NSW Ports is an active member of the communities in which we operate, with Port Kembla playing an essential role in delivering jobs, trade, sponsorships and support to the Illawarra and beyond,” he said.

“This project demonstrates the positive things we can achieve when we work together to support strong, sustainable neighbourhoods, with the university, Karla and her team of artists and Wollongong City Council collaborating to help deliver this fantastic seascape for locals to enjoy.

“We hope it inspires people across the Illawarra to learn more about the Great Southern Reef and the broader marine ecosystem in their own backyard.”

Marine biologist and University of Wollongong Emeritus Professor Andy Davis said he was thrilled to see the final mural and hopes it will help highlight the importance of the local reef environment.

“Seabed environments provide a critical ecological foundation for the growth of seagrasses, kelp, sponges and corals, which in turn support other marine life,” he said. “I thank NSW Ports for its grant that’s helped bring this habitat to life and inform our community in a fun and creative way.”

Artist Karla Hayes said the creative journey from reviewing the University’s research to designing initial concepts and painting the mural over two weeks was a positive and rewarding experience.

“I’m really passionate about creating art in public spaces that everyone can engage with and enjoy building appreciation of flora and fauna that supports conservation efforts,” she said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to create this artwork that will hopefully spark curiosity in the local community.”

Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said that the new artwork was a welcome addition to the Western Suburbs Pool.

“We’re pleased to unveil this new artwork ahead of the busy summer swim season, which kicks off on Saturday 23 September. The Western Suburbs Pool is well-loved by our community so we’re grateful to receive support from NSW Ports to beautify this facility as the previous mural was aged and faded,” Cr Bradbery said.

“The bright colours and local theme of the artwork is much appreciated. I’m sure there are many people in our community who will learn about the Great Southern Reef for the first time by seeing this artwork.”

CSES was one of 17 recipients of the NSW Ports 2022 Community Grants program. The annual initiative supports organisations that make a difference in the areas surrounding NSW Ports’ sites.