Colourful visitors flock to Mackay City Centre

Published: 13 Jul 2021

Mackay City Centre has its share of rooftop birds – lorikeets, doves, pigeons and pee wees – but it’s never seen anything like what’s flying in this week.

Six giant Gouldian Finches, complete with party hats, will fly into Mackay this Saturday (July 17) for the Mackay Festival of Arts.

These colourful birds will be perched atop Artspace Mackay, Bluewater Quay, Bluewater Lagoon, Rydges Mackay, Caneland Central and Mackay Showgrounds until July 25.

The work made its world premiere at Brisbane Festival in 2020 when Brisbane Festival artistic director Louise Bezzina commissioned the colourful Messengers of Brisbane installation as a beacon of hope for the city following an extended COVID-19 lockdown.

Mayor Greg Williamson said Louise Bezzina herself was a Mackay export.

“Louise actually used to be the Mackay Festivals coordinator many years ago, so it’s tremendous to be able to connect with her again and secure these amazing artworks for our festival,” Mayor Williamson said.

Ms Bezzina said the giant Gouldian Finches were glorious visual reminders to look up and smile, to experience a moment of joy and to celebrate.

“The Messengers will not only inspire and invigorate regional communities but will help bring locals and visitors to regions that are emerging from the interruptions of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions,” she said.

The captivating artwork was created by internationally renowned visual artist Florentijn Hofman.

Based in The Netherlands, Mr Hofman worked with Brisbane’s UAP (Urban Art Projects) to bring his concept and designs to life for the major commission.

“This work breathes hope for better days. It symbolises celebrating life and being positive... especially during this period,” Hofman said.

This project is an original commission by Brisbane Festival, supported through the Giving Program by Tim Fairfax AC and Gina Fairfax. The Queensland Government, through Arts Queensland and Tourism and Events Queensland, is proud to support the Messengers regional tour.

Once found across northern Australia in their millions, in recent decades the population of the Gouldian Finch has declined dramatically to an estimated 2500 mature individuals. It’s hoped that these installations will help to raise the profile of this declining species. For more information, head to