Col’s Chat – Locals Through My Lens: John McNamara

Col’s Chat – Locals Through My Lens

John McNamara

Few people who live in Brisbane’s west would have failed to recognise the stunning topiary on display in Ashgrove Avenue. A creative wonder that turns heads and inspires backyard gardeners to greater heights.

It’s a work of passion, and it was created by Ashgrove native, and all-round intriguing guy, John McNamara.

John explains, “It’s taken me 14 years to get to this stage, starting with small bends of wire to nurture the growth of the first shoots and then frequent adjustments and trimming. The kangaroo’s tail was a challenge, because you had to get it out there about six foot”.

The trees are Moreton Bay Figs, and the subject matter was an easy one for John. “We are in the greatest country in the world. I wanted something that reflects how we are proud Australians first. We have so much to offer, and I wanted something living; something that physically reflected the personality of our country, not just a flag, which is neither stimulating nor attractive if it hangs limp with no wind.”

The kangaroo and emu – Chosen to symbolise a nation moving forward, (since neither animal can move backwards easily) – tower over John and myself as we chat, and they attract locals and visitors alike. John says, “It’s wonderful to see kids playing around them. It’s certainly become iconic, and I get a lot of satisfaction in providing something tangible that reflects Australia’s embrace.”

Having spent a career in hospitality management (just ask him about how proud he was when he met David Attenborough!), John worked up until the age of 81, and is now an active member of the local Lions Club.

Next time you are about halfway down Ashgrove Avenue, [safely] cast a glance to the side and marvel at the passion and effort that he has put into this distinctly local icon.

Author & Photographer: © Colin Bushell / Colin Bushell Photography