Geraldton’s ‘fresh look’ entry statement signs defended

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian
Out: The Batavia Heritage Coast sign.
Camera IconOut: The Batavia Heritage Coast sign. Credit: Howard Gray

For the past two decades, travellers entering Geraldton were greeted by a large concrete sign, warmly welcoming people to the Geraldton Greenough Batavia Heritage Coast.

But late last year, the three signs were removed by the City of Greater Geraldton and replaced with two emery board-shaped installations inviting motorists to “take a fresh look” at Geraldton.

Four promotional billboards were also included in the $100,000 project, which display iconic photos of the coastal city.

But not everyone was happy with the sudden disappearance of the former Batavia Heritage Coast signs, or their replacements.

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Batavia Coast Maritime Heritage Association chairman Howard Gray said he was disappointed the signs were removed as they represented two significant parts of Geraldton’s identity — Dutch shipwrecks off the coast and the rich Aboriginal and European history.

In: New signage on Geraldton-Mount Magnet Road.
Camera IconIn: New signage on Geraldton-Mount Magnet Road. Credit: Gavin Box, The Geraldton Guardian

“It’s a bit disheartening for people who have put time and effort into promoting our history and heritage,” he said.

“I’m a bit disillusioned, we think the Batavia Coast — from Dongara to Kalbarri — gives a strong sense of identity to people that live here and travel here.

“It’s a very important title for the community, it’s on clubs, teams, businesses, products, prizes — it’s something that can really be built on, not knocked down.

“They could have put some new signs up nearby, there was no need to destroy those ones.”

The City also removed a number of signs that were considered outdated, in disrepair or created a negative perception of Geraldton, which included the “burglar beware” sign.

The new “emery board-shaped” sign on Brand Highway.
Camera IconThe new “emery board-shaped” sign on Brand Highway. Credit: Adam Poulsen

Mayor Shane Van Styn said the new signs were an attempt to entice travellers to turn off the highway and stop in Geraldton, rather than driving past.

While the limestone bases of the old Batavia Heritage Coast signs were repurposed to accommodate the billboards, Mr Van Styn said one sign had been kept.

“Given some of the concerns raised by the (BCMHA), one of the signs has been retained at the City’s depot,” he said.

“Its fate has not been decided.”

Mr Gray said he hoped the sign would be repurposed, but in the meantime he was encouraging community members to take part in the association’s peaceful protest.

“We’re encouraging people to put Geraldton, Batavia Coast, WA, in their address,” he said.

“We’re really encouraging people to make the point that that’s where we are, and make people think a little bit more about what we are.”

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