Opportunity closing soon to nominate significant local places

Virginia Henderson (with glass raised) toasts the new-look bus shelter with fellow residents in 2020

The Wagstaffe bus shelter is one of the first Central Coast sites to be nominated for the new Blue Plaque program recently announced by the NSW Government.

Nominations close on October 31 so the program has encouraged residents to suggest sites which represent a significant story, person or event in the local region.

A bus shelter may not immediately seem a likely candidate for a Blue Plaque (although some in Canberra have them) but the shelter in Wagstaffe matches the criteria of linking a place, a time, and a community, a community spokesperson said.

“It was during the first NSW COVID lockdown, in early 2020, that a casual group of locals co-ordinated by artist Virginia Henderson decided that a positive use of the frustrating and anxious time could be to smarten up the tatty old wooden bus shelter.

“The project gradually took on a life of its own, with more and more people contributing at the various stages – sandpapering, power washing, paint undercoating and paint top coating.

“Sea life murals were created on the front, back and sides of the shelter by Henderson and place name labels, solar lighting and artwork of local flora, sea creatures and wildlife were added.

“The bus shelter now attracts smiling sightseers and photographers each weekend and in holiday time.

“It is beloved of the local children, who respect and protect its artwork and its inhabitants, and for adults it marks a unique time in Wagstaffe’s history, the time when a community could have despaired but chose not to.”

Member for Gosford, Liesl Tesch, said she encouraged residents to nominate other sites which are connected to interesting stories that have shaped the history of the Central Coast.

“We have a diverse and rich history on the Central Coast dating back many thousands of years from our local indigenous communities until present day, and we really want to hear from people across all of the local community to help this initiative to reflect that,” Tesch said.

“The eligibility criteria states that the nominated place must be in NSW, have an interesting story to tell about the people or events that are linked to a certain place, and are visible to the public including both public and privately held property.

“The plaques will be linked to a digital interface to allow access to detailed stories, creating an extensive and well-represented Blue Plaques NSW network.”

Tesch said the more people with diverse stories to share the better.

“Many voices make our shared history, and the Blue Plaques help form a unique, interconnected and interactive way to appreciate and learn about local history, particularly parts of local history that are ‘hidden’ or not well known,” she said.

“Ask yourself, before nominating; who are the people that have shaped our communities?

“What stories are important to be heard?

“What are the important historical events that happened in our local area?”

Nominations for the Blue Plaques Program can be made by emailing gosford@parliament.nsw.gov.au and will be accepted until Sunday, October 31.

For more information, go to: https://bit.ly/HNSWBluePlaques.

Terry Collins