Thurston immortalised on sculpture trail

Lake Dunn Sculpture Trail to host Johnathan Thurston statue


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For many, ex-Cowboys NRL star Johnathan Thurston is already immortal - now Aramac's celebrated Scrap Metal Sheila, Milynda Rogers has made sure of it.

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The scrap metal statue of Johnathan Thurston awaiting placement at its new home on the Lake Dunn Sculpture Trail north of Aramac. Picture supplied.

The scrap metal statue of Johnathan Thurston awaiting placement at its new home on the Lake Dunn Sculpture Trail north of Aramac. Picture supplied.

For many, ex-Cowboys NRL star Johnathan Thurston is already immortal - now Aramac's celebrated Scrap Metal Sheila, Milynda Rogers has made sure of it.

Milynda, the architect of arguably the biggest permanent outdoor sculpture exhibition in the world, the Lake Dunn Sculpture Trail, is about to add the rugby league legend to the 37 scrap metal creations along the 200km trail north east of Aramac.

And it's all thanks to a young friend who likes JT as much as she does.

"It was at a Ballyneety rodeo working bee that Cooper Hay, who would have been about six years old, asked if I'd heard they were going to make a statue for him at Suncorp stadium," she remembers. "He had the idea that I should have a go."

It was this remark that unwittingly set the Jericho local on a task that would take 11 months to build, such was her desire to do the great man and a boy's dreams justice.

The result is a 2m high artwork that would be worth $50,000 if officially commissioned. Clever references to Thurston's career - a Queensland number plate, and horseshoes and bits that refer to the epic battles he led the North Queensland Cowboys into with the Brisbane Broncos - are there for the eagle eye to find.

"I made angel wings, like his back tattoo, that you can see inside the outer structure," Milynda said. "It's not just one layer of work."

She said the hardest part of making the statue was making it in JT's likeness.

"I didnt want to make something unless it was really good, I kept thinking about that, but he was retiring when I started - it was the perfect time to do it.

Milynda said she didn't know if Cooper liked JT more than herself, saying it would be a good competition between the pair.

"I like that JT is always so happy and tries so much for his own indigenous people as much as he did on the field.

"Cooper thought the statue would make people happy to see."

The latest scrap metal creation will be put into position on the roadside in Cooper's family property, Myross, next week, ready for fishermen on their way to Lake Dunn for Easter and grey nomads exploring the installation fast becoming an international phenomenon, to view.

A back view of the two metre tall statue created by Milynda.

A back view of the two metre tall statue created by Milynda.

Some of those with the first chance to see the marvellous new work will be the 800 to 1000 motorhome campers joining the trek to western Queensland in early May for the world record attempt on the longest line of motorhomes.

Milynda, also a councillor with the Barcaldine Regional Council, said the whole region was plugging everything it had for the expected influx of visitors and JT would be a commanding figure standing proud on the open Mitchell grass plain.

She and Cooper were both hoping Thurston would head west to "open" the statue and run a few coaching clinics for the region's keen young footy players but so far their letters of invitation haven't reached their destination.

A visit to the west would surely be a golden point win for a region so hard hit by drought.

Outdoor art scores a big one

Milynda Rogers welding a commission sculpture in her workshop at home at Boongoondo.

Milynda Rogers welding a commission sculpture in her workshop at home at Boongoondo.

The Lake Dunn Sculpture Trail, a 200km-long personal art gallery that is western Queensland's best kept secret, has been enchanting those in the know with its creativity, imagination and whimsy for nine years now.

The addition of the Johnathan Thurston statue brings the number of artworks wound around trees, hovering on windmills, resting on road verges and standing majestically on cliffs to 38.

Milynda has no intention of stopping yet - a sculpture of 'Old Faraway', Nat Buchanan and his camel team, and her version of Harry Redford's fateful white bull - are some of the next projects brimming in her imagination.

She has also been talking to the Guinness Book of World Records about creating the world's largest wire sculpture without reinforcing, which would rule out her seven-metre-long Muttaburrasaurus creation.

Nick-named Barb, weighing about half a tonne, has about three kilometres of barbed wire wound into it, but incorporates steel in its design.

Milynda has drawn up a design for a reclining kangaroo for the record, another Lake Dunn Sculpture trail eye-catcher, but says the amount of red tape needed might bring the attempt to a halt.

"It will be the largest in the world so it might take me two weeks to make," she explained. "It needs so many witnesses watching in rotation all the time - finding enough people might be tricky."

The whole sculpture trail has won Wikipedia credibility, being GPSed on Wiki-maps for others to find.

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