Horsepower Highway cleans up 2021 Australian Street Art Awards after winning two categories

Headshot of Sean Van Der Wielen
Sean Van Der WielenGreat Southern Herald
Horsepower Highway project manager Cassandra Beeck.
Camera IconHorsepower Highway project manager Cassandra Beeck. Credit: Tom Shanahan/Great Southern Herald

The Horsepower Highway has gained national recognition as one of the best street art trails in Australia.

The project took home three awards at the 2021 Australian Street Art Awards, which were held virtually from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast on Friday night.

The Horsepower Highway won gold in the Best Rural Art and Best Sculpture Park or Trail categories, also picking up silver in the prestigious Best Street Art Trail award.

“With both tricked-up vintage and modern tractors as well as eye-catching murals, this trail features pieces that — through reinvention — beg the visitor to become fully engaged in the experience rather than bypassing Gnowangerup,” the judges said.

“The local volunteers who nurtured the seed of an idea to create something enticing and fantastically different deserve national recognition because they’re role models for what a small rural community can achieve,” the judges said.

Horsepower Highway project manager Cassandra Beeck said the wins were unexpected.

“I thought if we were going to have a chance, it was going to be with the Rural Art award,” she said.

“We didn’t think we were going to have much of a chance with the Best Sculpture Park or Trail award as we were going up against council projects which have had thousands of dollars put into them and have somebody working on them full time.

“With the Best Street Art award, I didn’t think we had a chance in the world.

“This is us competing against projects in Melbourne and Brisbane, so to get silver is a pretty big achievement.”

Ms Beeck said the group would continue working to improve the highway, with a new incorporated organisation formed in the past week to manage the project.

“There are four vehicles were are working on at the moment, and we are hoping to have them installed by the end of this year,” she said.

The 75km trail beat a field of strong contenders for its gold awards, including the underwater Coral Greenhouse off the Queensland coast, the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Mural in New South Wales and the Southern York Peninsula Water Tower Mural Trail in South Australia.

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