Skip Navigation LinksMR-Australia’s-First-Celebrities

A community unlike any other

Explore inspiring articles, discover events, connect with locals and learn more about Coffs Harbour City Council.

Build the Best Bypass

Build the Best Bypass

Council, on behalf of the community thanks our State and Federal Governments for supporting our request to use tunnels...

Read more
Cultural Civic Space

Cultural Civic Space

Find out the latest project updates and news...

Read more
Projects

Major Projects

Find out information about major projects we have underway and ones we have recently completed...

Read more
View all news

Latest News

STILL

Local Artists Shine in the City Heart

Artworks by 35 local artists from Byron Bay to Port Macquarie that entered this year’s nationally significant Still: National Still Life Award will go on display in a special exhibition...

Read more
Lifeguard Strategy

Future Lifeguard Strategy Out for Public Comment

Changes in our local population and the reasons people visit beaches, plus innovations in lifesaving technology are captured in a Draft Lifeguard Service Strategic Plan...

Read more
Solar

Switching on to Solar

Work has begun on the first sites chosen for Council’s major solar energy push to help reach its target of using 100% renewable energy as an organisation by 2030...

Read more
View all news
22 August 2016 Australia’s First Celebrities Come to Coffs





Before they became celebrated Australian icons, the koala and waratah left early colonists almost ‘star struck’ by their unique appearance.

Explore how the koala and the waratah were first depicted over 200 years ago and how they evolved quickly to become national icons in a new travelling display by the State Library of NSW on show at the Harry Bailey Memorial Library from Saturday, September 10, until September 22.

The Library will also be running a range of programmes for children and adults throughout the exhibition period.

According to Australian Inspiration curator Sarah Morley, “The koala was so unique that early colonists found it difficult to draw. In 1803, Australian artist John William Lewin (1770-1819) was the first person to draw a koala, from a specimen that was brought from Mount Kembla to Sydney.”




The koala evolved over time to become a national icon. “Dorothy Wall brought the koala to life in 1933 with her cheeky little character called Blinky Bill, and by the 1960s it was used by Qantas to promote Australian tourism,” said Ms Morley.

The waratah has had a similarly fascinating journey that helped establish an Australian national identity and give NSW its state flower. The earliest known drawing dates back to 1794 and it continues to be a source of inspiration for fashion designers, artists and creatives.

“Australian Inspiration will not only tell the evolving story of our national icons, but also showcase the role of the State Library’s extraordinary collections in arts and design,” said Ms Morley.

Highlights of the Australian Inspiration display include:

  • some of the earliest known drawings of Australian flora and fauna;
  • Dorothy Wall’s drawing of Blinky Bill and her earlier characters in Tommy Bear and the Zookies from around 1920; and
  • a quirky waratah costume design created for the 1938 Sesquicentenary of Australia.