Not quite a swan song as mosaic gets a refurb

Distilled 1970s Western Australiana: The iconic swan is surgically removed for future reuse.

A CAUTIOUS operation has seen the Maylands swan mosaic removed for preservation. 

The swan was installed at Maylands Waterland to mark 1979’s “WAY 79”, the 150th year since the founding of 

the Swan River Colony. The sesquicentennial swan was ubiquitous back then and ended up on a swag of cultural items including coasters, ash trays, tea towels, bottle openers, and a massive one made up the tiling of Waterland’s largest pool.

Back in 2019 just before Waterland was decommissioned, Bayswater councillor Catherine Ehrhardt moved they preserve the swan so it could later be mounted.

Cr Ehrhardt reports the swan was carefully removed in two pieces to reduce the risk of cracking, and it’ll be reinstalled at the new replacement water park later this year. 

Stage one of the $3.5 million replacement Waterland is 

on scheduled to be open by November 2021 with a splash pad, water creek, wading pool, play areas and picnic and barbecue spots, while stage two with its bigger leisure pool is still a ways off and would need another $3.7m to fund it. Bayswater council’s looking for state or federal funding before diving in. 

WAY 79 was an initiative of former premier Charles Court’s government and was some eight years in the planning. 

Noongar activist Ken Colbung was invited to perform the didgeridoo at the opening event, and used the occasion to hand governor Wallace Kyle a notice evicting white people on behalf of WA’s Aboriginal community, done up in the style of a housing commission eviction. It sparked fury from Sir Charles who called it a cheap stunt.

Apart from that moment of praxis the rest of the celebrations were remembered by historian Geoffrey Bolton as a “sanitised version of the past” when he reflected on them a decade later.

“Nobody tried to replicate the heat, the insects, the dysentery, the alcoholism, the boredom and the discomfort which were so intimate a part of daily life in the Swan River Colony,” he reflected.

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