New sculpture welcomes visitors to Bonegilla Experience
A large sculpture now takes pride of place along the High Country Rail Trail at the Mahers Road crossing, marking the start of the Bonegilla journey.
The sculptural work, titled Welcome, features silhouettes of migrants being greeted to the Bonegilla Migrant Centre by the much-loved Colonel Guinn, Director of the Bonegilla Migrant Camp.
The project serves as a memorial to the integral role that Army personnel played in settling and caring for families and individuals who arrived in Australia seeking a new start in peacetime.
It’s location on the rail trail signals the movement of thousands of people along Victoria’s rail system and to the Bonegilla siding.
Artist Ken Raff worked on the sculpture between eight and ten hours a day for just over a month.
Made from steel and corrugated iron sheeting, the sculpture ties in with four other sculptural pieces by the artist including three at Bonegilla itself and one at Gateway Island.
“I was excited to add to the series and I am very happy with how it turned out,” he said.
“The steel and corrugated iron really reflect the structure and landscape that is there.”
“This sculpture differs from the other ones in that the faces of the people are cut away, whereas the other sculptures feature filled in faces.”
The Welcome sculpture was supported by the Victorian Government.
The Bonegilla Migrant Reception Centre was home to hundreds of thousand post World War II migrants from across Europe as part of the post-World War II immigration boom.
It is estimated that more than 1.5 million Australians are descended from migrants who spent time at Bonegilla.
The sculptural work celebrates the positive relationship between our migrant communities and Army and aims to be a lasting legacy to raise awareness in future generations of this important part of Australia’s history post World War II.