IT’S hard to miss Blair McNamara’s work.
A mural by the Sunshine Coast artist – entitled Beach escape and memories of Surfair – is a key component of the public art project on the Marcoola-Surfair shopping strip.
Commissioned by Sunshine Coast Council and jointly funded by the Marcoola community and traders, the 3 x 4metre mural sits along Marcoola’s Suncoast Boulevard shopping strip on the southern wall of the Bendigo Bank.
Not surprisingly, Mr McNamara said he drew inspiration from growing up on the Coast. “As a child, I have recollections of ‘the big drive’ along the sandtrack behind the dunes we now know as Marcoola, and the unlikely construction of the Surfair,” he said. “For this mural, I portray a local narrative as a beach tableaux and have drawn inspiration from the site itself and its contemporary history. “The entire area was originally an exposed, open plain of incredible wild flowers with the David Low Way running parallel to the open beach and around the airport runway. “I took a look back into my past and have recalled what the area was about during the 1970s and ’80s.”
Like many long-time loc-als, Mr McNamara remembers when the Surfair building first rose from the dunes and for more than a decade sat alone, six storeys high. Eventually smaller buildings appeared and several high-rises eventually joined Surfair during the ’90s. He researched any photographic records he could find and quizzed a few locals before picking up a brush.
“Much of my work chronicles the coastal plain and comes from the spirit of place – as I work on it – and for this mural I sensed it needed to represent how significant this site truly is for so many of us, as an integral element of Australia’s contemporary history. “This commission took me on a journey that was both reflective and curious.”
Mr McNamara said people seemed to “go into a trance” when they reminisced about their times at Surfair.
“Its beautiful gardens, the Public, Quartz and Moon bars, the Top Of The Surf Restaurant upstairs, endless pool games, the nachos from over the road, playing Space Invaders, the massive car park, the drive-through and of course, the fantastic rock’n’roll every Saturday night in the beer garden with the beam across the stage that would block out the lead singer,” he said.
“The country’s top bands – and occasionally overseas performers – played there every weekend. “Cold Chisel, Midnight Oil, Hunters and Collectors, Hoodoo Gurus, Skyhooks, Mental As Anything, Rose Tattoo, The Angels, The Radiators, Jimmy and the Boys, Mondo Rock, Joe Joe Zep and the Falcons, The Flowers, Psychedelic Furs, to name a few. “Many Coast families were created from couples that met there. People were drawn from all over.
“Red-nosed, intimidating, Underbelly types flew in for weekends with their pretty escorts to mingle around the kidney-shaped pool and the bars, dressed in their best thongs. “This was a time before drink-driving or pokies, and occasional police raids on under-age drinkers caused very little drama.”
On Friday nights, revellers would “fall into the beer garden” after 11pm to continue their night where the Johnnie Moselle all-male revue would perform Las Vegas-style show tunes. “The cast often cursed the rude audience and seeing a nine-foot drag queen punching through the surfie crowd to order her drinks at the yellow fluoro-lit bar was intimidating. For some reason there was always a small gathering of elderly Buderim residents sitting at the tables, clapping along with the songs”.
“We were so free and many of us remember these stories.”
Source: Sunshine Coast Daily
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