Mountains and Murals

The Murals, as the underpinning element of the December 2019 Mountains and Murals Festival, was conceived by Sgt David “Johnno” Johnson, local police station officer in charge and organised collaboratively between the Shire of Plantagenet, Mount Barker Police, Department of Justice, Plantagenet Arts Council, Great Southern Emerging Leaders Group and the town community.

"Johnno" is a part time "Walldog" a collective of sign painters and mural artists who meet once a year in a selected town in the United States to capture the history of the area in large scale public art murals.

Over the course of a long weekend seven murals were painted, celebrating the unique human and geographical history of the area and the visiting artists provided workshops to develop local talents.

The locations of the murals were carefully selected to bring tourists into town to explore; some of the murals are in alleyways and hard to find. This has created an exploration trail through the heart of Mount Barker, adding to the excitement of viewing but also forcing tourists to get out of their cars and interact with local businesses.

Inmates from Pardelup Prison Farm volunteered their time and equipment to prepare the exteriors of buildings for painting, and the Emerging Leaders Group had considerable input into the theme of Reconciliation.

The festival, featured the murals painted by international artists, and incorporated a Food and Wine Fair and other festive activities, celebrating all things local.
You can view a location map at the bottom of this page.

1 - Bella Kelly

World-class muralist Anat Ronen from Texas and Bella’s daughter Caroline painted Mount Barker’s internationally famed artist Bella Kelly on the Post Office Shop's southern wall.

Isobel Colbung, now known as Bella Kelly, was born on January 14, 1915 just north of Mount Barker, within The Great Southern region. Bella grew up on the Edgerton-Warburton farm west of Mount Barker. During the 1920s she worked at a Kendenup farm in a domestic and child minding role and then moved to Narrogin where she me married Henry Kelly and they had four sones - Simpson, Gregory, Flemming and Goldie.

Around the mid 1940s, Bella is given a set of paints by Mrs Edwards, a member of the Narrogin Native Welfare Committee and Dr Jacobs, a local medical practitioner and also a member of the Narrogin Native Welfare Committee encourages Bella to paint by giving her paper and paints.

Bella's four sone were taken away from her in 1946, and she went on to have Geoffrey, Cheryl Ann, Lorrice, Caroline.

Bella's Great Southern landscape's, often featuring the Stirling Range, grew increasing acclaim, including receiving an award for the best painting by a coloured person” at the 1960 Narrogin Arts Festival, exhibits in Perth in an Aboriginal art exhibition at the Dulux Colour Centre, NLMA Building, St George’s Tce, Perth and exhibits 26 acrylic paintings at Fremantle Arts Centre, from 12 April to 5 May with Alma Toomath and Michelle Broun.

Bella died in hospital in 1994.Fair and other festive activities, celebrating all things local.

2 - Mount Barker Co-Op

Painted by Sgt Johnson, this mural represents the history of Mt Barker’s Co-Op, and the impact it has had on the town.

During it's ninety year history, the Mount barker Co-operative has played a significant role in Mount Barker's economy. Borne out of the need for local primary producers to organise themselves against middle-men who dominated the export trade and took much of the profits, Mount Barker orchardists directly resulted in the formation of the Mount Barker Co-operative Ltd in 1918.

As a co-opertive, customers are shareholder owners. Millions of dollars have circulated within the region, through shareholder dividends, trading bonuses, donations, grants, employment, traineeships and other community support initiatives.

Today, Mount barker is justly both proud and appreciative of a magnificent retail experience, encompassing a Supa IGA, Mitre 10, Elders, Celebrations and the Mount Barker Fuel Service. A retail experience that is sought after, used by and the envy of those around and beyond our locality.

3 - Mount Barker Established 1829

Illinois Walldog Jay Allen’s design, facing the back of the Grocery Store Cafe, pays tribute to the town’s founding member Thomas Braidwood Wilson and Noongar guide Mokare.

WILSON, born 1792, at Kirknewton, West Lothlan, Scotland was appointed to Surgeon, Royal Navy in 1815. It was with Captain Collet Barker, Commandant at Albany's King George Sound that he explored the region inland and named the hill overlooking the future township of Mount Barker in the Commandant's honour.

MOKARE, an Aboriginal from the Minang clan of the Noongar tribe, and excellent and knowledgeable guide from WA's Great Southern region, was pivotal in Aiding European exploration in the area. Mokare was well known in his short life for being a peacemaker, and an effective mediator between black and white communities.

4 - First Plane Landing

Painted by Canadian Walldog Mike Bromley, this mural depicts Mount Barker township's first plain landing.

West Australian Airways Ltd. flew a specially modified De Havilland DH.50A - the G-AUFD which went into service on 1 December, 1926 and crashed without fatalities on the 11 May, 1926. Such was the risk of early air travel!

It was in June, 1828 that the (then) Mount Barker Fruit Growers Co-Op was denied a loan from the only Bank in town. Whilst in Perth on business, Co-Op Secretary Mr A.T. Booth heard that Mr. Ernest O'Sullivan, General Manager of The English, Scottish and Australian Bank was in Perth from Melbourne. An invitation was extended to him and Mr. William J Horgan, manager of the Perth branch, to visit Mount Barker. The invitation was accepted, but as time was of the essence, the fastest mode of transport was by aeroplane.

And so occurred the first plane landing.

So impressed with what he saw, a branch of The English, Scottish and Australian Bank was opened a mere weeks later on 2 August, 1928.

5 - Plantagenet District Hall

World-class muralist Anat Ronen from Texas also painted the old social hub of the town, the District Hall.

In it's hey-day, the hall hosted and commemorated many social and memorable events including, as one would expect, dancing and balls.

Today, after a major revamp, it is home to Plantagenet Players.

6 - Mount Barker

This mural was one where members of the public joined in painting at Wilson Park on the Sunday of the festival.

It depicts many aspect of the Shire of Plantagenet that makes it "Rich and Beautiful" - our agriculture and livestock, huge range of award wining wineries and vineyards, strawberries, our apple heritage and of course no depiction would be complete without the famous and renown Mount Barker chickens!
Last updated 7/12/2020