When you think of bollards, an image of a short post made of steel that directs the flow of traffic usually come to mind. While bollards are primarily used to protect people and property from harm, they can have another purpose.
In the city of Geelong in Victoria, they are used as artwork. That’s right, colour and quirky bollard sculptures made from reclaimed timber line the foreshore of Geelong.
Not to be confused with Jan-Lennard Struff, the German tennis player. The Australian Jan is responsible for the bollard sculptures. Commissioned by the City of Geelong in 1995, the bollards represent people and scenes from the city’s history.
Jan had been working overseas for almost 20 years as a graphic artist with the Irish National Television Network when she decided it was time to come home. Working in Australia as a book illustrator, Jan first presented a carved bollard at Baron Heads. Using this as an example, she presented the concept of the waterfront bollard walk to Geelong.
The bollards, however, didn’t happen immediately. It took five years of hard work to create the 103 bollards you can see today.
The sculpture walk
Most of the bollards are along the waterfront, although they can also be spotted across the city and even found welcoming new visitors at Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne.
The bollard sculpture walk is around 4km long following a path from Rippleside Park in North Geelong all the way to Eastern Beach Sea Baths.
What can be seen?
Well, there are far too many Bollard sites to discuss in this blog, however, we are going to look a few highlights. If you want a full overview, check out the guide online.
Volunteer Rifle Band
This group represents Geelong’s first band concerts, which were held way back in 1861. They are pictured here playing “The Geelong Polka”. If you look closely, you can see a musical score for it. Sadly, it’s only a representation, as the real score has been lost to history.
Eastern Beach Lifesavers
This scene portrays Billy Coyte, a local from the Eastern Beach Life Savers, who taught many generation of Geelong kids how to swim. It’s only a likeness – Billy was never that rigid.
Here is the captain of the steamship S.S Edina, which, if you can’t tell from the way he is dressed was operational from the late 19th century through to the mid-20th century. The scene depicts the sail captain bringing live birds to ashore to the delivered to the Botanic Garden aviaries.
Rabbits are a reoccurring motif on the bollards, often found lurking around the character’s feet. They denote the introduction of rabbits to Australia in 1859, which happened through the port of Geelong. The 10 pairs that were introduced (for sport) ended up wreaking havoc on our natural eco system.
At the Bollard Shop, we think it’s marvellous that the bollard has been repurposed in such an artistic way to create a visual history of the city. The Bollard Sculpture Walk has obviously been very successful, as it attracts tourists from all over the world.