History of the Wilpena Panorama
Located in HAWKER South Australia.
Wilpena Pound is a natural formation caused by geographical folding and uplift. This earthquake activity resulted in the resemblance of a 'pound' normally used to keep animals contained, hence the name Wilpena Pound.
Jeff was originally inspired after viewing "Panorama Guth" in Alice Springs in 1992. However he envisioned a complete 360 degree, circular painting of the view as seen from Saint Mary's Peak, the highest peak of Wilpena Pound and the entire Flinders Ranges ( 1171m ), also taking in the rest of the Pound and visible surrounding countryside.
In November 2000, a public meeting was called by the newly formed Hawker Community Builders . It was at this meeting that Jeff felt led to share the Wilpena Panorama vision . Jeff hoped that it would provide a unique drawcard to the area.
January 2000, Udo Boettger, Brady Morgan and Jeff climbed St. Mary's Peak where Jeff took a series of 60 overlapping photos from which to work. Jeff drew a grid over these so he could transfer the scene exactly to scale on to the larger grid of the painting surface drawn up in the purpose built round building adjoining the main shop.
On 30th June 2001, the round Panorama building foundations were laid. Brick work followed and the first of 6000 bricks were laid on September 11th , the same day New York's twin towers were brought down by terrorists. The Panorama building was constructed using double brick and lined with gyprock on which the painting was done.
35 - 40 tons of dirt was dug out by hand by Jeff's son Brady and Jeff himself to construct the foundations, which had to be very strong because of the high earthquake risk in the area. It was difficult to get a brickie to take on the job , until Jeff's local Christian Fellowship Group prayed for one. One hour later Peter Klose rang to say that he and Gordon would take the job on.
Brady and Jeff did all the labouring for the brickies. Then a ring beam, roof and many laborious hours later the exterior was almost complete. Three days before Christmas & the interior wall was finally ready and Jeff began to draw up the grid squares ready for the initial sketching of the mammoth painting. As if an invisible hand had taken over momentum picked up and within 10 hours all sketching was completed.
The momentum was sustained and 13 months and 4000 hrs. of work later, the Wilpena Panorama was completed. The date was January 13 , 2003. The longest session was 17 hours without a break. The painting is 33 metres in circumference and 3.5 metres in height. It is viewed from a raised platform via a stairway from which can be seen all that anyone climbing St. Mary's Peak itself would see.
It is painted exactly to scale, only one of a few in the world done so , and incorporates such land marks as Wilpena Pound, the Bunkers , Elder Range, and the ABC & Heysen Ranges. These are all part & parcel of the beautiful Flinders Ranges which extend 420 kilometres from Crystal Brook in the south to Mt. Hopeless in the north.
The honourable Mr. Graham Gunn , Federal M.P. officially declared the new tourist attraction open on Friday, March 21st, 2003.