The spirit of Kurri Kurri’s own wildlife warrior Ian Hill has been immortalised in an artwork in the centre of the town’s CBD.
A mural of the man affectionately known as “Beat” can now be enjoyed by all who stroll past Kurri Workers Club.
The star of the hit wildlife program Beating Around The Bush lost his battle with cancer in September, aged 65.
Having grown up in the small Coalfields town, Hill was well known around Kurri Kurri.
In a touching tribute to their late friend, a group of Hill’s mates approached Kurri Towns With Heart about coordinating a mural in his hometown.
Towns With Heart community projects manager Lesley Morris said the murals sprawled around the town recognised the history and people of Kurri Kurri.
So she said they thought it was a great addition to the program and a fantastic way to honour the well-known man.
A crowd-funding page was set up to fund the initiative, and the response was immediate.
“It just went crazy,” Ms Morris said.
“Within two months enough funds were raised.”
Along with money, the crowd-funding also brought a lot of fond memories of Hill.
“He was so well-respected and well-loved in the wider Hunter that people wanted to see it happen,” she said.
“Everyone who donated money had a story.
“There was a lot of love that came out of that.”
Newcastle artist Daniel Joyce was called on to bring the idea to life, and Ms Morris said he went “way beyond the brief”.
Mr Joyce incorporated several iconic shots of Hill to create the final work.
He said he wanted to capture the former TV presenter’s passion and concern for animals and the environment.
And luckily the artist had a lot of material to work with between the countless videos and photos of Hill over the years.
“He was a pretty photogenic bloke,” Mr Joyce said.
“And a lot of his photos just told the story.”
Mr Joyce had met Beat once 20 years ago, but said he really got to know him over the past few months.
“I had to become one with the fella there for a while,” he said.
“It was definitely an honour to paint his portrait.”