A new, future icon of art and tourism on Kangaroo Island is taking shape in the heart of Penneshaw.
A band of volunteers in recent weeks has worked tirelessly on a 4.45-hectare parcel of once forgotten bushland, now being transformed into the Kangaroo Island Sculpture Trail.
There is already 1.5km of trail leading up into the dune country and back down on the other side of the central ravine.
Visible from the main arrival and departure point at the SeaLink ferry terminal, the trail aims to become well known as the premier sculpture trail in South Australia and top 10 in Australia.
The project is being managed by the Penneshaw Progress Association under the guidance and leadership a dedicated sub committee, with the support of the Kangaroo Island Council.
“The progress association deserves significant praise for taking the risk of turning what was essentially unused and a vacant reserve into something quite extraordinary,” Mrs Bates said.
Trail designer Bryon Buick has been working with stonemason and sculptor Dave Clarke on the magnificent trail, that is lined in many parts with Dudley limestone and featuring steps made of old Penneshaw jetty timber.
The two designers and artists have been totally sympathetic to the environment and the trails wind gently with seductive curves through the native bushland.
Ancient blackthorn trees become part of the trail with walkers having to stoop below branches, while root systems have been protected with raised walkways.
The project has been a real community effort with Tony Willson being awarded the construction contract for the trail, which included him donating the massive rocks up to 7 tonnes for both the upper and lower entrances,
While Sarah Strong-Law has delivered 27 loads of smaller limestone rocks from her property at YMCA Corner.
The Penneshaw KICE campus school children are also getting involved, planting trees and hopefully creating a sculpture of the own for the trail.
There are two main lookout points for two large sculpture pieces on other side of the central ravine, but there are already 15 to 20 “art nodes” identified for the placement of sculpture.
It all started back when local business owner John Gamble suggested something could be done with forgotten town reserve.
The association had now successfully received $288,000 in Federal Government and local council grant funding.
There are no sculptures yet, but the first stage of the trail infrastructure is set to be complete by the end of June.
Mrs Bates is confident that sculptures will come soon through corporate donors and other means, and Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers had already pledged $5000 for what could be the first sculpture.
“We do have an art policy in that whatever sculpture goes in, must be sympathetic to and compliment the natural environment,” she said. “We would love to have local KI artists submit concepts.”
There will be more exciting developments, including a swing bridge across the ravine built with a $150,000 grant secured by the association through the State Government’s “Fund My Neighbourhood” scheme.
The design and engineering for the bridge has already been completed with the assistance of the trail’s project manager, Kim Harrold and engineers Wallbridge Gilbert Aztec.
Other grand ideas included an event space at the bottom of the ravine, where the acoustics lend themselves to musical concerts.
The progress association has thought out how the ongoing maintenance of the trail park will be funded, with the support of KI Council whereby $53,000 worth of solar panels purchased as part of the grant will generate around $10,000 per year to pay for maintenance.