There is something to be said for the summers of childhood, sandcastles, sun and carefree days. Well here is a summer tradition that isn’t all for the kids.
‘A Day at the Zoo’ sand sculpting exhibition on Frankston’s waterfront is something you may have not considered unless you have kids but apart from the delight and awe that comes with discovering a world of two storey high sandcastles and animals emerging from sand - some surprisingly adult themes make this exhibition by Sand Sculpting Australia something well worth including in your day at the beach.
Head down the coast from Melbourne and you are confronted by an endless stream of picturesque bays with crystal clear water, golden sand and lush green headlands. Perfect for a quick pit stop or a whole weekend of beach relaxation. Frankston at the end of the M3 just before this particularly picturesque stretch of Mornington Peninsula has received a much needed rejuvenation and is welcoming to both tourists and locals who want to get away from the big smoke.
Since 2008 Frankston has been home to a display of world class sand sculpting talent, with sculptors flying in from all over the world to spend over 5,000 hours creating pieces for this four month long exhibition. Housed in a small enclosure near the information center on Frankston’s waterfront, this year’s theme was ‘A Day at the Zoo’ and included sculptures or piles featuring animals divided by area. African and Asian animals are pictured as well as North and South American animals, Australian, Arctic and European animals alongside mythical creatures, steampunk futuristic animals and a particularly disturbing enclosure titled ‘No Rules Petting Zoo’ which includes gems such as a python squishing a young child while her mother plays on her phone and an emu with its head up another lady's skirt, among all the fluffy petting zoo animals.
Upon entry you can wander at will through this maze of sculptured worlds, seeing increasingly intricate details (and a few quirky ones as well) as you discover each artist's unique realm. There is a café to grab a cold drink and admire the sculptures from a beach chair or if you have the kids in tow a sand pit and sand art activities to keep them out of trouble. Visitors can even try their hand at creating their own sand works (significantly harder than it looks folks). The sculptures themselves look as detailed and solid as if they were cast of concrete, with the occasional exception where you can see the wear wrought by the elements.
To create these amazing sculptures 3500 tonnes of brickie’s loam sand is sourced locally and compressed into a wooden formwork (box) until it resembles a layered wedding cake. The artists then remove the framing and carve the top of the sculpture, working downwards layer by layer until complete. The finished sculpture is then sprayed with a biodegradable sealant, to repel moisture and to help manage the works, one artist stays onsite restoring during the entire four months of the exhibition. Considering many of the sculptures are two storey’s high and I couldn’t keep a five centimeter pyramid together when I tried, my sense of ore is considerable.
If you have a spare hour or two on your way down the coast, I recommend popping in to see the sculptures, the uniqueness of the experience is well worth the $14 price tag and the locals tell me there is rumors that the exhibition may not be back next year, so have a look while you have the chance. It is the quintessential fairyland of our childhood summer imaginings, no long hot Australian summer is really complete without a trip to the beach. You can find directions and ticket options at www.standstormevents.com the exhibition ends April 25th so be in quick.