Mural artists create a scene that is uniquely Cobar

The uniquely Cobar mural on the western wall of the NAB and (insert) the artists who painted it, Joel Fergie (aka the Zookeeper) and Travis Vinson (aka Drapl).
The artists who painted it, Joel Fergie (aka the Zookeeper) and Travis Vinson (aka Drapl)

What does a galah, a glass jar, and Cobar all have in common?

They all rhyme and all appear on the new mural at the National Australia Bank.

Artists Joel Fergie (aka the Zookeeper) and Travis Vinson (aka Drapl) were in Cobar last week creating the ‘quirky’ artwork.

“We were asked by council to put together a mural that would stop travellers and give them a feel for the town,” Joel told The Cobar Weekly.

“When I tried to put together ideas for it, a general feeling I got from the people I was working with was something that was quirky and something that would make people laugh and feel good when they saw it.

“So what we’re painting is a galah, sitting on a log, looking over a jar, with the town of Cobar in it,” Joel explained.

“You might have heard there’s a few rhyming words in there and by the end of it we’re going to have all these things in there that kind of rhyme with Cobar.”

Joel is from the Sunshine Coast while Travis is from Brisbane.

The pair have worked together numerous times creating unique murals in outback towns.

Joel estimates they’ve done “a couple hundred” many of which have been on silos.

He said their biggest mural was a set of seven grain silos at Sea Lake in Victoria.

“It was 30 metres tall by about 70 metres wide. We painted those together in 2019 and it took about three and a half weeks.

“Murals have always been my thing,” Joel said.

“I grew up as a young kid in the city doing graffiti at my local skatepark.

“We had this wall we could do practice on and overtime I became more interested in character work.”

He describes the process of creating a mural as being like putting a jigsaw puzzle together, just over a long period of time.

Murals can take anywhere between one day and three to four weeks to complete with Joel explaining he likes to paint in four hour intervals.

Cobar’s mural was completed in approximately 40 hours over four days

Joel said the community is at the forefront of his mind when painting murals.

“For us it’s about creating a mural that represents the area or town where it is.

“So wherever we go, we try to do a little research and, best case scenario, spend a little bit of time with the locals to come up with the ideas.

“We work with the town to come up with something that they will feel proud of and then we go ahead and paint it.

“There’s a lot of listening,” he said.

As Cobar’s mural will be exposed to the harsh, afternoon western sun, Joel has used an exterior acrylic paint and a clear UV coat to protect the artwork from the climate and also from graffiti.

Joel explained he gained his nickname ‘Zookeeper’ early in his career.

“I got that because essentially I was painting a heap of animals throughout my learning phase. I found that animals were a great way of using metaphors and coming up with quirky ideas—different animals can represent different places, feelings, etc.”

Joel was appreciative of the support he’d received from the Cobar community during painting but he wasn’t however a fan of our hot weather. (It reached 40.5 on Wednesday and 41.6 on Thursday and so he confined his painting sessions to mornings to beat the heat.)

With Joel’s work in high demand, this was the only time he could come out to Cobar to paint the mural.

Joel noticed a couple of other walls around town that would be suitable for a makeover.

“We’re keen to come back.

“There’s nothing formally happening but hopefully there will be,” Joel hinted.