Category Archives: Mary Poppins Birthplace Statue

The Centre for Independent Studies takes a jolly holiday…from the facts

The  Centre for Independent Studies has undertaken relentlessly thorough research to ridicule the 2012 grant of $26,400 towards the Mary Poppins Birthplace Statue as part of the Federal Government’s Tourism Quality Program. Not.

Sky-high grant for Mary Poppins statue was the headline and the opening sentence reads “How many spoonfuls of sugar will it take to help this news go down?”  The intellectual laziness shown in the “research” by the CIS Waste Watch was matched only by News Corporation’s coverage of the same material. In fact, not only did News Corp fail to fact check the CIS report but it couldn’t even be bothered to get the accompanying photo correct, using an image of the inferior statue from Ashfield in Sydney instead of Bowral’s elegant example of public art. Curiously the caption reads “A different Mary Poppins statue. Source: Supplied” In other words “We know this picture is wrong but we can’t be bothered to google for 30 seconds to find the correct one”. Too bad the CIS doesn’t run a waste watch report on journalistic integrity or competence.

The CIS also says “Apparently Bowral is the birthplace of Helen Lyndon Goff (pen name P.L. Travers), the fictional flying nanny’s creator.” Or apparently not. Ironically the Wikipedia hyperlink to P.L. Travers included by the CIS states quite clearly that the author was born in Maryborough in 1899 and that she lived in Bowral from 1907 to 1917. You might be forgiven for thinking the CIS would check its own source before including the reference…?

And no, News Corp, the statue is not located in the middle of Bowral but is situated in a park beside the present-day Bradman Museum, only a block from the still extant home that the author lived in with her family. This park was opened not long after the author’s family arrived in Bowral and she would almost certainly have played there with her sisters; a few years later the family of a very young Don Bradman moved into the same street only a few houses away and these two great figures of our sporting and literary history were neighbours for several years. For that reason, in part, the then chairman of the Bradman Trust Michael Ball AM led the selection panel for the sculptor and the current Trust chairman Maurice Newman AC showed support by purchasing a limited edition statuette to help with the fundraising.

Betraying its ideological bias, it appears that Bowral’s Mary Poppins statue was the only one chosen by the CIS from the 17 projects in that 2012 round of Tourism Quality funding that was held up for such gratuitous treatment; $26,400 was the  smallest grant and one of the very few, perhaps the only one, given to a volunteer-based community non-profit association: the Southern Highlands Youth Arts Council.  The other government grants in that funding round were given mainly to private (for-profit) corporations for purely commercial projects that mostly exceeded $100,000 each, but no criticism of those was forthcoming. Here is the full list  – see if you think our voluntary community project deserves the CIS and News Corp ridicule of government largesse by comparison with what many would view as “handouts” given to the private sector. When examined without the superficial bias displayed the CIS and News Corp, I suspect all those other projects would have many points of merit.

A bit more fact checking by CIS – or any at all – might have revealed the facts that this Federal grant only represented about 25% of the cost of the statue and that the remainder was raised by volunteers by public subscription via the sale of commemorative statuettes and other community donations. That’s almost three dollars from the community for every one dollar invested by the government. Or that this is the only Federal funding ever made in acknowledgment of one of the most popular Australian-born authors in our history. Or that two more copies of the life size statue have since been sold to a private collector for in excess of $200,000 and that those proceeds are being invested in much needed community facilities for youth and community arts (wanna bet our return on investment is exceeding the other private sector projects?). Or that the publicity and visitation generated by our volunteer community-based campaign over almost a decade dwarfs the grant in value expended, with more to come as it headlines a current tourism campaign . One example below that was reported nationally and internationally occurred when 2,115 volunteers gathered on Bradman Oval to break the Guinness World Record for the Largest Umbrella Mosaic in the Welcome Home Mary Poppins event. That aerial photo – again taken by volunteers – went round the world giving great tourism publicity to Bowral and Australia as many people learnt for the first time that Mary Poppins and her creator had these antipodean origins.

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If anyone was wondering about the intellectual rigour that the Centre for Independent Studies or News Corp bring to their research, this example provides an interesting insight.

There are yet more magical surprises associated with this very special statue that make it unique.

And for the record, the erroneous image prominently splashed across News Corporation websites was of the statue from Ashfield erected in 2004. It cost a tenth of the one in Bowral and was mostly paid for by the municipal council but its quality is not high. The Bowral statue celebrating the locale where it is now believed the author first created the Mary Poppins character was indeed partly inspired by the Ashfield example but the provenance of our statue’s design, the fact it was life-size and that a national competition was held with an independent panel that eventually selected one of Australia’s finest sculptors, Tanya Bartlett, to undertake the commission puts this Bowral project in a whole different league from Ashfield. As did the official unveiling by the town’s children with the guest-of-honour, former NSW Governor Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO in December 2013 to commemorate the centenary of the author living in Bowral.

http://ciswastewatch.org.au/grants/sky-high-grant-for-mary-poppins-statue

http://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/dont-mention-the-budget-crisis-the-crazy-stuff-public-servants-spend-your-money-on/story-e6frflo9-1227215960658#comments

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Mary Poppins Birthplace Statue Features in Tourism Promotion

The Mary Poppins Birthplace Statue features in the just released Southern Highlands 2014/2105 Holiday Planner launched at the Bradman International Cricket Hall of Fame last night.

The planner incorporates QR codes linked to over 20 short YouTube videos of passionate locals as  “hero characters”  introducing some aspect of the region’s tourism attraction and inviting others to “visit my Southern Highlands”.

Melissa McShane in costume as our local Mary Poppins was asked to record that video beside the Mary Poppins Birthplace Statue.  You can see the clip via the link below

 

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Mary on the Move! A spoonful of mystery and maybe some magic

Regional Fairfax newspaper the Southern Highlands News has a front page story yesterday on a mystery that has been quietly under investigation these past few weeks. But it couldn’t stay secret for much longer.

The Mary Poppins Birthplace Statue unveiled on the 8th December 2013 was facing west. Somehow at some time since then the statue has shifted orientation to now face east. It was first noticed on 21st March 2014 by George the labradoodle while on an early morning walk with his owner Terry Oakes-Ash.

The available photographic evidence and eyewitness accounts suggest the swivel happened during that week. The statue has not been damaged and there appears no evidence of attempts at vandalism. Some reports have been received of children climbing on the statue but the engineers who oversaw the installation have ruled that out as a cause.

The situation is perplexing as the statue weighs hundreds of kilograms and is set on a large granite plinth that is secured to a concrete foundation extending almost two metres in depth.

Photographic evidence that the Mary Poppins Birthplace Statue has shifted position sometime before 21st March 2014

Photographic evidence that the Mary Poppins Birthplace Statue has shifted position sometime before 21st March 2014

If you have any information on how this happened or a theory as to what might explain the rotation please leave a message below.

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Joshua Hewitt interviews Paul & Melissa McShane

Radio presenter Joshua Hewitt interviewed the father-daughter team, Paul & Melissa McShane, who have created the Mary Poppins Birthplace campaign in Bowral.

They discuss the origins of the campaign and the creation of the Mary Poppins Birthplace Statue.

You can listen to the interview directly on SoundCloud or via Joshua’s blog.

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Bowral’s Mary Poppins Birthplace Statue is now unveiled!

On Sunday 8th December 2013, Mary Poppins was welcomed back to her “birthplace” in the Australian town of Bowral where the author P.L. Travers lived as a child and teenager and a century after the character of the famous flying nanny first emerged in her imagination and storytelling.

Appropriately, the fictional character of Mary Poppins is now immortalised in the town she was created as the finale event in Bowral’s sesquicentenary (150th) celebrations with the unveiling of an exquisite life-size bronze statue. Mary Poppins is now a “permanent resident” of Bowral in Glebe Park, adjacent to the Bradman International Cricket Hall of Fame and Museum, only a block from the cottage in Holly Street where her family lived from 1907 – 1917.

The statue was crafted by well-known sculptor Tanya Bartlett, who was also responsible for the nearby statue of Sir Donald Bradman “The Final Salute” that stands in the museum’s courtyard.

The unveiling of the Mary Poppins Birthplace Statue was performed by dozens of children and supporters, sponsors and dignitaries tugging on three long ropes. The unveiling was done in the presence of the Governor of New South Wales, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO, who gave the command signal by raising an umbrella.

It was a 12 year old girl, Melissa McShane, who originally suggested the statue for Bowral in 2004 and has campaigned for it in partnership with her father, Paul, for almost a decade. Melissa was given the honour of officially cutingt the ribbon around the black calico covering the sheet prior to the unveiling with the assistance of sculptor Tanya Bartlett and Rose Treadwell, the grand daughter of the late Sean Crampton, a British sculptor whose 1966 sketches for a statue proposed for Central Park in New York were used as design inspiration for the Bowral project.

The Mary Poppins Birthplace Statue was then welcomed by the singing of a Mary Poppins medley by a choir from the Southern Highlands Youth Arts Council (SHYAC) and an “umbrella dance” to the tune of the Hokey Pokey by the audience.

Other dignitaries attending with the Governor included the Hon Bob Baldwin MP Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Minister for Trade and our local MP for Throsby Stephen Jones; the State Government was represented by the Hon Pru Goward MP for Goulburn and Mr Jai Rowell MP for Wollondilly. The Mayor of Wingecarribee Shire Clr Juliet Arkwright accepted the gifting of the statue to the community from the President of the SHYAC Allen Cupitt.

Visit these links to the photo gallery from the Southern Highlands News and the footage from HighlandsTV for how events unfolded on the day.

Photo Gallery of Mary Poppins Statue Unveiling

Photo Gallery Southern Highland News by Emma Biscoe

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