Community & Business

31 March, 2022

Sculptures to bring local lost giants back to life

AN exciting new project that will herald the creatures who disappeared from the Atherton Tablelands a millennia ago has been given the green light to establish the first of many sculptures across the southern Tablelands region.

Sculptures to bring local lost giants back to life - feature photo

Aptly named “Lost Giants of the Atherton Tablelands – Ice Age to Climate Change”, the project is all about showcasing and celebrate the fauna that lived alongside the original First Nation people, including both extinct and contemporary species. 

The brainchild of the Atherton Tablelands Foundation, the project intends to bring these magnificent creatures from the past back to life in the form of full-scale bronze sculptures, together with examples of contemporary birds, mammals, and reptiles. 

The collection will take the form of life-sized sculptures to be created by internationally recognised sculptor and artist based at Tarzali, Tom Tischler, whose acclaimed sculptures are on display at 90 museums, zoos and aquariums around the world. 

The estimated cost of the overall project is $10-$15 million, with the first sculpture to be located in Grigg Street Park, Ravenshoe after Tablelands Regional Council agreed to the site at its meeting last week. 

The Ravenshoe Wraiths (or ghosts, pictured) will depict two Thylacoleo carnifexes, which were known to have inhabited many parts of Australia, have been depicted in rock art in the Kimberley region of WA, and skeletal remains discovered, but are also the subject of an urban myth, the Queensland Marsupial Tiger.

Foundation board member and Adjunct Professor at James Cook University’s Cairns Institute, Tim Nevard says stories of the “tiger” date back to First Nation people who still talk about the animal’s existence. 

“It was also documented by a Queensland magistrate in the 19th century who reported that his dog has chased one up a tree, and he reported this sighting to the Zoological Society of London,” Prof. Nevard said. 

He is passionate about the project which was described as “ambitious in scope and bold in vision” in the proposal submitted to the council. 

The first stage involves placing bronze sculptures in publicly accessible locations, followed by the establishment of a large collection in a single gateway site incorporating an “Australian Eden Centre” to promote knowledge, education, tourism and conservation in the region. 

“The idea came about and we did an exhibition in May last year of 40 plus maquettes of extinct and contemporary fauna made by Tom which was very well attended, with 98 per cent of people giving their approval,” he said. 

“The catalyst for us going ahead though was getting Tom on board – we were very lucky that he was here and with Covid, he had the time to commit to the project and do the vast body of work used in the exhibition.” 

Prof. Nevard said the sculptures would be made out of bronze which would endure for hundreds of years. 

“We wanted to ensure that we used a material that would deliver the quality and lasting significance that these marvellous creatures deserve,” he said. 

Prof. Nevard said the foundation was applying for funding to undertake the project in stages, with nearly $100,000 required for the first piece to be created and established at the site. 

As part of Tablelands Regional Council’s approval, the foundation will be responsible for all costs associated with establishing the sculpture in the park, but agreed to bear the responsibility of maintaining and repairing the sculpture, if required, into the future.


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