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Violet Town offers Australia’s best memorial experience

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Australian Street Art Awards, Media Release, 11 February 2023

A memorial garden that incorporates unique street art and honours those affected by one of Australia’s worst train crashes has been named as the best monument to see in Australia.

The Southern Aurora Memorial, a project managed by the residents of Violet Town, has received the Gold Award for the Best Monument or Memorial at the 2022 Australian Street Art Awards announced from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast last night.

The moving memorial which includes pieces by Tim Bowtell, Lachlan Cumming and Chis Mann nudged out the Wandoan Soldier Settlers Precinct and its artworks in the Western Downs Queensland, which took the Silver Award, and Bronze winner ‘Neighbour’, a mural by Jesse Bell in Katherine which memorialises Ayaiga, an Alawa man from Hodgson Downs who was the first Indigenous Australian to be awarded the prestigious British Empire’s King Albert Medal.

The Australian Street Art Awards, a tourism awards for public art program, encourage Australians to explore the world-class street and public art that is freely accessible all year round and found in every corner of the country.

The Southern Aurora passenger train crashed just outside Violet Town on 7 February 1969, resulting in nine deaths and 117 injuries. Violet Town shows respect with its well-regarded Southern Aurora Memorial. Using art and design to tell the stories associated with that incident, and to deal with tragedy and promote positive human attributes such as bravery, the memorial attracts people from all over Australia to commemorate, remember, learn, reflect and heal.

With rigorous judging by tourism leaders from across Australia, plus second-tier auditing and due diligence, the Southern Aurora Memorial’s win has the credence of the art tourism sector.

Awards Director Liz Rivers said, “This unique memorial contributes significantly to making Australia a more vibrant, creative and interesting country – somewhere visitors want to explore more keenly.”

“Smart communities promote their outdoor art, including monuments and memorials, as a unique landmark – an attraction that visitors can see in only one place, and that makes their destination immediately identifiable, highly attractive and a drawcard for art-loving tourists,” Ms Rivers said.

“Investing in outdoor art as an attraction mechanism also makes economic sense as art is typically less expensive to create than more traditional tourism attractions while the pay-off is handsome,” she said.

Domestic arts tourists are high value visitors – they stay almost one-and-a-half times longer and spend about one-and-a-half times more per day than domestic tourists overall, according to an Australia Council for the Arts’ Domestic Art Tourism: Connecting the Country Report.

In commenting on Southern Aurora Memorial Violet Town’s win, the judges congratulated everyone involved in keeping the memory and history of the Southern Aurora train rescue alive through the development of these Memorial Gardens.

“How the people of Violet Town banded together without delay and the bravery, kindness and humanity the community exhibited in saving so many lives is a story that every Australian should know and these Memorial Gardens play an important role in that education,” the judges said.

2022 Gold winners are:

Best of the Best: ‘Dyipni–Da King of Da Road’, various artists (The Horsepower Highway, WA) Best Entrance Art: Burwood Chinatown Precinct Project, Sophi Odling and Christina Huynh
(Burwood, Sydney NSW)
Best External Mural: ‘Sanctum’, Andrew Bourke and Jesse Bell (Darwin NT)
Best Landmark Sculpture: ‘Dyipni–Da King of Da Road’, 14 Filipino metal workers (The Horsepower Highway, WA)
Best Mega Mural: Quorn Silo Light Show, Illuminart (Southern Flinders Ranges SA)
Best Monument or Memorial: Southern Aurora Memorial Violet Town, Tim Bowtell, Lach Cummins and Chris Mann (Violet Town VIC)
Best Rural Art: Bute Silo Art, Scott Nagy and Krimsone (Top of the Yorke SA)
Best Sculpture Park or Trail: Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail, various (Greater Port Macquarie NSW) Best Street Art Festival or Event: SWELL Sculpture Festival 2022, various (Gold Coast QLD) Best Street Art Laneway: Banna Lane, various (Griffith NSW)
Best Street Art Tour: Frankston Street Art Walking Tours, various (Frankston VIC)
Best Street Art Trail: Tongala Street Art Trail, Tongala volunteer artists (Goulburn Valley VIC)

2022 Silver winners are:

Best Entrance Art: Darwin Didgeridoo, Anthony Duwan Lee (Darwin Airport NT)
Best External Mural: Nonna’s Table, Claire Foxton (Griffith NSW)
Best Landmark Sculpture: The Big Koala, Spirit of All Koalas, Pauline Roods and John Belfield
(Greater Port Macquarie NSW)
Best Mega Mural: Bute Silo Art, Scott Nagy and Krimsone (Top of the Yorke SA)
Best Monument or Memorial: Wandoan Soldier Settlers Precinct, various (Western Downs QLD) Best Rural Art: Digging up the Past, The Zookeeper and DRAPL (Hughenden QLD)
Best Street Art Festival or Event: Banna Lane Festival, various (Griffith NSW)
Best Street Art Laneway: Austin Lane, various (Darwin NT)
Best Street Art Tour: Oh Hey WA NMBW Street Art Tour (Perth WA)
Best Street Art Trail: The Maryborough Mural Project, various (Fraser Coast QLD)

2022 Bronze winners are:

Best External Mural: Painting Our Future, Julian Clavijo and Camilo Delgado (Hastings VIC) Best Landmark Sculpture: Let’s Get Crabby, in a Big Way, Brendon Tohill (Capricorn Coast QLD) Best Mega Mural: Stay Grounded, Kitt Bennett (Darwin NT)
Best Monument or Memorial: Neighbour, Jesse Belle (Katherine NT)
Best Rural Art: The Golden Clydesdale, Dylan Butler (Coobowie SA)
Best Street Art Festival or Event: No More Blank Walls Street Art Festival, Blank Walls (Osborne Park WA)
Best Street Art Laneway: Bidencopes Lane, various (Hobart TAS)
Best Street Art Trail: Little Finds, various (Kalgoorlie-Boulder WA)

Related story: Violet Town honoured to win national street art award


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