‘Accidental’ wombat mural goes viral

Long Lunch 09/08/2018

An ‘accidental’ wombat mural has become the subject of what is arguably the internet’s best new video.

A video produced by the ABC has seen Australian artist Jimmi Buscombe become an unexpected global hit, with 10 million views on Facebook and counting.

The popular pastel drawing on a railway bridge in Warrnambool, South West Victoria shows a wombat emerging from a cavernous hole in the bridge.

It took two hours to complete, Mr Buscombe says.

But the artwork was never planned to be a permanent feature of the bridge.

“I was commissioned to do a temporary art piece in pastels, and I hadn’t worked with pastels onto concrete so I thought I’d have a play on the bridge,” Mr Buscombe told RadioLIVE’s Wendyl Nissen.

“I thought it was cute, but I didn’t really put a lot of effort into it. I hadn’t got permission from the local council or VicTrack, who own the actual bridge, so for me it was a bit of a naughty piece in that way,” he says.

Mr Buscombe says the artwork was intended to be a test run that would wash off in the rain.

That’s where Phil Hoy, a former graffiti removalist who lives nearby, comes into the story.

"I went and had a squiz and then once I saw what I saw I thought 'yeah, this is [awesome]',” he told ABC News.

Mr Hoy, armed with a high-viz vest and a spray can of clear coat in hand, decided to make the artwork permanent.

"I thought 'well, it's gonna rain and it'll be gone'," he said.

When Mr Buscombe went back to scrub off the drawing the next day, he noticed something wasn’t quite right.

"It was shiny and normally the pastel is quite matte. I thought 'oh my god something’s happened to it’,” he told RadioLIVE.

"And I went up to wash it off and it just wouldn’t come off. Nothing would get it off.”

Mr Buscombe says he got “word through the grapevine” that Mr Hoy was the man who saved his drawing.

He says the feedback he’s since received is “extraordinary”.

“It’s funny that this piece that I’ve spent the least amount of time on has been thing that’s known around the country, and around – seemingly – the world now.”

He told RadioLIVE the response to the video has been overwhelming – even the local ABC network, who produced the video, can’t believe the reaction.

“[The video] was done for a local audience and it just, for some reason, tickled people’s fancies and went crazy.

“It’s the biggest video that the local ABC has ever put up,” Mr Buscombe says.

Listen to the full interview with Jimmi Buscombe above.

The Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.