First impressions count – and those arriving to Bendigo for the first time via train could be forgiven for being somewhat underwhelmed.
Drivers through Bendigo pass the imposing Sacred Heart Cathedral, the graceful Alexandra Fountain and the iconic buildings which line Pall Mall.
In contrast, few of the fences and industrial estates which line the railway are worthy of an adjective.
But La Trobe University Bendigo’s head of campus has floated an idea which he said would give first time visitors “a sense of arrival and excitement” when they entered via train.
“In Bendigo, more and more people are using the train now and we have increasing services,” Robert Stephenson said.
“The signage, the nicer side of buildings face the highway, so when you come in on the train, mainly what you see are warehouses and industrial operations and a lot of blank walls.
“But as more people are using the rail – they provide an opportunity to create a whole new perspective.”
The university chief said – if property owners got on board – those bare industrial walls could instead become blank canvases for artists.
One artist excited by the idea is Janet Bromley. The Yorta Yorta woman and recent La Trobe graduate was one of the lead artists on a new mural at the university.
Ms Bromley said a series of murals along the train line would fit with the direction the city had taken over recent years.
“There is an awakening happening in Bendigo right now,” she said.
“You’ve got the gallery, you’re getting murals in the laneways … art has a lot of relevance.”
She said the La Trobe mural had provided a connection for First Nations people with the university – and was “pretty fun to look at too”.
But the entire community would benefit from the proposed series of new murals, Ms Bromley said.
Importantly, she said, it could engage the talents of young people.
“Art is great way for young people to find out about themselves,” she said. “And if you let them go and do it properly – you’d be amazed at what they come up with.”