On the surface, it is a glorious mural that has added a splash of life to Unanderra's Western Suburbs Pool. But it's so much more than that.
As the mercury rises and all is in readiness for the pool to open on September 23, the pool's exterior has had a makeover thanks to a collaboration between NSW Ports, the University of Wollongong and Wollongong City Council.
The woman at the genesis of the project is UOW's Allison Broad, who, back in 2014, was a research assistant with marine biologist and UOW Emeritus Professor Andy Davis at the time.
"We were having coffee, staring out to sea and literally wondered what the ships were anchored on," Ms Broad said.
"I chatted with a local fisherman, and that was the start of it all."
It turned into Ms Broad's PhD, involved a number of world-first in scientific researching, and has consumed much time and energy since.
"It is an amazing reef and it's almost as if this mural is my way of thanking everyone involved in my PhD, because it's a team effort," Ms Broad said.
The woman who pulled it all together from an artistic standpoint was Wollongong-based Karla Hayes.
Her biggest solo effort so far took a tad over three weeks to complete and was "retrofitted" to Unanderra, she explained.
"Normally we have the space first, this time we had the grant and had to go about finding a wall that was appropriate.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity to create this artwork that will hopefully spark curiosity about our reefs in the local community," she said.
The $20,000 grant came courtesy of NSW Ports to UOW's Centre for Sustainable Ecosystem Solutions, its general manager of strategy and corporate affairs Jon Stewart explained.
"This project demonstrates the positive things we can achieve when we work together to support strong, sustainable neighbourhoods - with the university, Karla and her team of artists and Wollongong City council collaborating to heal deliver this fantastic seascape for locals to enjoy," Mr Stewart said.
Wollongong City Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said the new artwork was a welcome addition to the Western Suburbs Pool.
"The Western Suburbs Pool is well-loved by our community so we're grateful to receive support from NSW Ports to beautify this facility as the previous mural was aged and faded.
"The bright colours and local them is much appreciated, and there'll be people who will learn about the Great Southern reef for the first time seeing this artwork."
This was one of 17 projects funded by the NSW Ports 2022 Community Grants program.
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