Gang-gang cockatoos at City Hill, Canberra
Next in my Canberra Birds artwork series: Gang-gang cockatoos at City Hill, Canberra. This is a cartoon-style illustration of a gang-gang cockatoo flying through the air in Canberra as the orange sun rises in the morning sky.
Image detail: Gang-gang cockatoos at City Hill
Gang-gang cockatoos: the bird emblem of Canberra
By contrast, females gang-gangs are grey all over.
The most obvious way you know that gang-gang cockatoos are nearby is by hearing their voices. Gang-gang cockatoos have a very distinctive call, which sounds like a fishing reel unspooling with the ratchet on. Other people describe it as sounding like a cork being removed from a wine bottle, or the sound of a creaky gate.
Despite being the bird emblem of the ACT, I’ve rarely sighted gang-gang cockatoos within the suburbs of Canberra. It has only been when I’ve ventured into the nature reserves surrounding Canberra that I have encountered these birds. This might just be the luck of the houses I’ve lived in.
Unfortunately, gang-gang cockatoos have declined in numbers by 69% during the three generations through to 2021, and is set to be listed as an endangered species of Australia.
The ACT Flag controversy: adding the royal bluebell
My scene features a flag on the City Hill flagpole. However, the flag that I have drawn is not the current flag of the Australian Capital Territory. It is a modified version of the flag, featuring the ACT’s floral emblem: the royal bluebell.
Image: the current flag of the Australian Capital Territory
Image: the proposed flag for the Australian Capital Territory, designed by Ivo Ostyn
I am aware that Ivo Ostyn, who designed the flag, is unhappy with his design that was adopted by the Territory in 1993. He says that bureaucrats forced him to put the ACT coat of arms onto the flag. As this brilliant TED talk by Roman Mars outlines, putting coats of arms onto flags is an ugly no-no. Ostyn is proposing a redesigned flag featuring the royal bluebell. My Gang-gang cockatoo scene features Ostyn’s proposed flag design, flying proudly on the flagpole.
Hopefully this is a fun artwork Easter egg for Canberra flag nerds!
The City Hill flagpole: a great Canberra location for my gang-gang cockatoo scene
Gang-gang cockatoos are the faunal emblem of the Australian Capital Territory. This fact is a large part of the reason why I portrayed them near the flag of the ACT in my scene. There is a large ‘Canberra Pride’ sentiment in the city from long-term residents. Many Canberrans feel a specific pride for the ACT and Canberra more so than a general Aussie pride. This is largely to do with the ACT’s progressive policies, in contrast to the general conservatism of Australia on many social issues.
Although most Canberrans probably won’t be able to name it, City Hill is a prominent location in Canberra, situated just north of Lake Burley Griffin, where Commonwealth Avenue meets with Northbourne Avenue.
Image: Commonwealth Avenue, City Hill by Wade Johanson, taken in 2009. Note that the ACT government has since begun densifying the area, replacing the open-air carparks with buildings.
The Canberra ‘love dinosaur’ / ‘love alien’ graffiti tag
I also included the small background detail of the Canberra ‘love dinosaur’ graffiti on a nearby wall. This is a recurring graffiti design which has been appearing around Canberra since 2020. (Personally, I think it should be named the ‘love alien’, but everyone else seems to call it the ‘love dinosaur’.)
Image: Canberra graffiti by Kieran
At first I’m sure that it was just a single artist who was drawing this Love Dino character. But there seems to be a Foo Was Here / Kilroy Was Here effect happening now, with multiple taggers drawing the Love Alien in their own style. It seems like it has gone well beyond a single artist, with most new instances looking like copycats. It has even been spotted in Melbourne. I prefer the style of the original tag.
Drawing the light rail southbound across Lake Burley Griffin
As mentioned in my other post on the Canberra Birds series, I decided to future-proof my artwork by illustrating the red trams of the ACT’s light rail project into the scene. Currently, the service only runs north of the city, but I decided to imagine what it would be like when the southbound Stage 2 is operational and running southbound over Lake Burley Griffin.
I used this video as a reference for imagining how it might look. I thought this would be a nice visual treat for those paying attention to how the scene differs from real-life.
Postcards, greeting cards, art prints
Support my work by buying this artwork as a postcard, greeting card or signed and numbered art print from my online store.
Visit the Gang-gang cockatoos at City Hill product range category, or use the following links for these items on my web store:
- Greeting card – Gang-gang cockatoos at City Hill (11.7 x 18.2 cm size) – also available in four-pack and eight-pack bundles of greeting cards
- Postcard – Gang-gang cockatoos at City Hill (A6 size) – also available in four-pack and eight-pack bundles of postcards
- Art print – Gang-gang cockatoos at City Hill (various sizes, pigment ink prints on archival paper)