The Point Leo Project
Located only an hour away from Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula, Point Leo’s magic has been crafted over several millennia, calling people to its shores for over 9000 years. Today as much as always, people have relished the unique natural assets of the area, but as Point Leo’s popularity increases each year, more pressure is put on the environment and the community’s resources allocated to conservation efforts.
In 2014, the Point Leo Foreshore Park and Reserve Committee of Management (CoM) began reinvigorating the campgrounds to increase revenue and resources to sustain visitor demand and conservation efforts. In collaboration with the CoM and with the generous support of Monash University, Wild Melbourne and the Point Leo community have created an experience that enhances the visitor’s understanding of Point Leo’s rich natural history and the environmental challenges faced on a daily basis.
Strategically placed along the foreshore and inside the Visitor Centre are 16 informative and visually engaging interpretive displays. Shaped as life-sized surfboards, they highlight one of the more popular ways people actively connect with nature in the area, as well as reflecting a kinship with the decades-old surf culture of Point Leo. The displays' colour schemes are designed to both complement the lush and dynamic landscape and 'jump out' to grab the attention of passersby. Realistic and stylised cartoon imagery on each display adds fun and enjoyment to learning scientifically accurate and easy-to-understand information about the landscape, its inhabitants and the local history.
Sometimes, reading information can only do so much but when coupled with a hands-on and interactive experience, theory and practice merge to enhance the learning process. Interactive displays are critical to bringing the interpretive displays to life.
Adventure and exploration along the foreshore are filled with a variety of surprises, especially for those with a keen eye. The incorporation of interactive displays in the Visitor Centre increase people’s awareness of the environment by offering a tantalising taste of what can be found throughout the foreshore. Furthermore, the displays provide tools for education regarding how individuals can best enjoy, protect and manage the environment during their stay.
The custom designed touch-tank was installed to replicate the rockpool environment so that under controlled and safe conditions, visitors can easily see and handle critters that might otherwise escape their attention.
An old boat was up-cycled as a touch-table where every item found on the beach, artificial and natural, can be inspected and have its story told - where it's from, why it exists and how it got here. Its versatility in design makes it a fantastic centerpiece and a readily-converted table seating several people.
The terrarium replicates the moist, coastal wetland environment and houses fungal and floral specimens regularly collected by rangers. Here, people can view up-close the intricate details of a rich micro-world humming along.
Painted by the visiting campers on their summer holidays, the seascape mural is art truly imitating life. Point Leo is a reference point for many formative life experiences and what better way to immortalise the joy nature brings to our lives than by painting a seascape together?
The success of this project lies in the power of collaborative efforts and building community. Materials, labour and creative input were all testament to the generosity and diverse range of skills of those assisting with the project – local tradespeople and businesses, residents of Point Leo, and visiting campers from all over Victoria. Point Leo is a place where lasting memories can be created and it’s these experiences that become portable and foster an appreciation for the natural world elsewhere in one’s travels. Community involvement is central to all Wild Melbourne projects and is a means to empower communities, engage them with the natural world, and encourage stewardship of their local environment.
THANK YOU TO…
This project could not have been possible without members of the Point Leo community, visiting campers and the following partners: Point Leo Foreshore Park and Reserve, Monash University, Paul Ikin, Signwave Moorabbin and Dulux Australia.