See the fairytale figures that have become a global sensation in this coastal haven.
Imagine creatures, some as big as houses and some even bigger, sculpted from recycled wood and reminiscent of Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are, scattered through the majestic coastal town of Mandurah (Mandjoogoordap) in Western Australia. The five-metre tall sculptures poke out from towering eucalyptus, sit on cliffs and appear to dip their toes into the sea, pulling visitors into an other worldly adventure. These are the “giants” of Mandurah.
Just eight weeks after it opened in November 2022, award-winning Danish recycle artist Thomas Dambo’s thoroughly original sculptures had attracted more than 40,000 people, a 400 per cent increase on the previous year’s tourism numbers in the sleepy town an hour south of Perth.
“We nearly broke Mandurah over Christmas; the influx of visitors was just enormous,” says Tabitha McMullan, CEO of FORM: Building a State of Creativity, the not-for-profit arts and cultural organisation that conceived the project. “We’ve been blown away by how people have embraced it.”
Ambitious, immersive and undeniably enchanting, the project – now on track to clock more than 300,000 visitors by the end of this year – is an Australian first and the latest in an international trail of giant sculptures by Dambo, who was profoundly affected by the “ fairytale magic” of the West Australian bushland.
“Thomas Dambo’s work is global but at the same time Giants of Mandurah really could not exist anywhere else,” says McMullan. “We have the oldest continuing culture in the world and the Bindjareb Noongar people have been so incredibly generous with their stories and knowledge throughout the project. It’s a truly special experience.”
Make it a weekend
The award-winning Waterfront Redmanna is a Mandurah institution for good reason: owner/chef Jason Hutchen has been championing the culinary spoils of the region for nearly two decades, focusing on a seasonally rotating menu that always circles back to the warm seas of the WA coast. Cone Bay barramundi and Mandurah whiting are both fail-safe favourites.
For a more casual bite with an excellent drinks list, the Thorny Devil Brewery is well worth the 30-minute drive south of Mandurah, where the venue – set across two hectares of bush and with a sprawling playground for the kids – dishes up American barbecue and a range of craft beers.
The luxe, self-contained apartments at Seashells offer access to happy holiday bustle from their location near Mandurah Ocean Marina, where fishing and crabbing or a round of golf on a world-class course are at your doorstep. The real drawcard? The twinkling Indian Ocean just metres from your balcony.
Image credit: Dylan Alcock