Sometimes large scale interpretation sign projects require new and innovative design solutions to be created as in the case of the signage ensembles for the Great Victorian Railtrail shown above.
Othertimes large scale projects may simply involve the design, production and delivery of a large number of conventional signage units.
Nature Tourism Services has extensive experience in delivering both types of these large scale projects for central and also remote locations across Australia. Several such projects are featured here.
In 2013/14, as part of the High Country Collective project team, we undertook the structural and graphic design of the signage solutions needed for the new Great Victorian Railtrail – Victoria's longest railtrail stretching from Mansfield to Tallarook (near Seymour).
A feature of our design response was to create a bench/shelter setting that mimicked the sense of arrival and departure in an open landscape that railway stations provide. We focussed on developing multi-function units including seating, benches and bike rack functionality.
In order to bring our ideas to life we worked in close collaboration with Screenmakers, the major signage production specialists based at Queanbeyan with whom we have a long association. Screenmakers metal fabrication experience coupled with their 3D router/laser cut workflows allowed for accurate product preview.
In designing the seat/bench we included bike rack functionality in the rear of the unit. This idea limited the proliferation of separate functional elements on site in order to improve the aesthetics of the units and simplify the production and roll out process.
Stage 1 of the project roll out saw four of the proposed 16 installations established in October 2014. The scale of this undertaking is reflected in the fact that a B-Double semitrailer was required to move the fabricated materials for the four units from Queanbeyan to Mansfield for installation.
The signage designs we developed embraced both background interpretive material as well as visitor orientation content.
We were able to incorporate some striking heritage photography into our designs. This was very favourably received by the railtrail stakeholders.
Visitor orientation material lies at the heart of the ensemble's content messages. Presenting this in a clear and appealing manner was central to the design challenges this project faced.
In 2009 we undertook a major planning and graphic design project for Parks Victoria to upgrade a series of roadside destinations along the then newly sealed road across the Bogong High Plains. This entry installation at Wallaces Heritage Trail is a major outcome of this project.
Our planning work required us to come up with the concept sketches for the precinct solutions. Parks Victoria then took these and supervised the construction process in house. In order to both develop our ideas and also ensure that the stakeholders could get a clear idea of the solutions being proposed we relied on 3D precinct mock-ups.
An important issue for us to address was the fact as the precinct is located directly alongside the Falls Creek Alpine Resort the area is extensively used both in summer and winter. This photo showing the Wallaces Heritage Trail precinct features the bespoke entry signage solution we developed for the key visitor nodes along the roadway.
Wallaces Heritage Trail is the major visitor feature along the Bogong High Plains Road. As part of our work on this project we also needed to develop the logo/branding for the new Bogong Alpine Way visitor product and this features on the entry signage.
In addition to the roadside orientation signage we also produced a series of interpretive signs for location along the Wallaces Heritage Trail walk. This is the first of nine signs along the route.
The second sign along the walk features the alpine grazing theme and shows how the design palette we established for the trail is used to create distinctive layout for each sign.
A second major entry precinct for us to address was the Watchbed Creek node. This needed to operate within a very small environmental footprint and we hence adapted the larger Wallaces Carpark shelter design to this smaller setting.
This orientation signage from the display shows the key role Watchbed Creek plays as a gateway to the northern section of the high plains and beyond.
In 2010, Nature Tourism Services, working in collaboration with WA author and photographer Cliff Winfield, undertook the production of the signage needed to implement a series of heritage trails across the inner precincts of Geraldton, Western Australia. The visitor orientation map we produced to show the trails is featured above.
A key part of the trail roll out was the establishment of entry node signage at key points along the main city promenade.
Our design response drew heavily upon the distinctive shape of the coastline surrounding Geraldton to create a strong sense of place around which to build the signage layouts.
A key challenge relating to this project was the fact that the trails were being draped over a diverse array of existing urban settings, with no opportunity to implement landscaping responses as part of the signage design or installation.
While this limited the structural responses we could implement, we were able to have free reign in terms of the creative artwork solutions we developed for the project.
A central part of the trail roll out was the need to direct visitors along the various trail routes. These had already been laid out in a previous consultant's report. Our job was simply to implement this schedule.
In all our sign designs, the backdrop was created in photoshop using extensive deep etching of heritage photographs to effectively separate out and highlight the subject matter of interest.
As with all our signage work, we were careful not to clone sign designs but rather to seek out the artwork solution that best captured and supported the essence of the message being presented while still grounding this within the overall project design brand.
In response to the tragic 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria a large scale bushfire recovery program was implemented to help reconstruct destroyed community infrastructure. At Marysville, we worked with the Vic DSE to provide the signage needed for the reconstruction of the area's walking track networks.
One of the immediate challenges facing this project was to acknowledge the disaster of the fires whilst ensuring that the overarching theme of recovery - both in the case of natural and human communities - was the key message being conveyed.
The impact of the fires on the natural environment was most noticeable at the iconic Steavenson Falls visitor precinct. This area was the focus of major construction work to define a new visitor experience.
As part of this work, we designed signage solutions that could be incorporated into the infrastructure rebuild which was largely completed at the time we engaged with this part of the project.
Murrindindi Shire Council also engaged us to assist with the signage they needed to establish the new visitor centre precinct as part of the reconstruction of the town hub at Gallipoli Park.
The bulk of our work with DSE however was focussed squarely on the interpretive signage needed for the new walking track facilities they were rebuilding.
New visitor orientation material also needed to be developed. We established the new Marysville Trails brand as a means of integrating and redefining the new recreation opportunities being created through the reconstruction program.
With the trails embracing a section of the Bicentennial National Trail, material relating to horseriding was also an important component of the messaging.
In 2006 we won the nationally advertised tender to design and instal promotional signs in 17 visitor centres across the route of the Great Tropical Drive in far north Queensland. For a route embracing over 2000km of driving, this was a major logistical and stylistic challenge.
Dealing with outlier areas such as Cooktown was one of the challenges the project had to address. Fortunately with the logistical support of Screenmakers regarding the supply and installation of the panels all major centres were successfully covered.
We invested a major design effort into creating a high quality mapping resource including accurate terrain details compiled from contour lines and assembled in Photoshop to deliver the required aesthetic.
Once the map was created, it was then possible to cut relevant sections out to use it to feature in the local area panels.
Given the need for the panels to reflect the bright and vibrant tourism culture of the tropical north, our design response was to opt for strong colours and dynamic designs.
This was the first occasion we used full photoshop backdrops to underpin our design responses. Given the limitations of the data processing and handling capabilities of our desktop publishing system in 2006, this was a major innovation and undertaking.
A challenge for the panels was to ensure that the local visitor centres would agree to give up their prime orientation space to promote the new product.
We gained their coooperation in this by ensuring that the panels played a key generic visitor orientation role, first and foremost focussed on the town itself. This took the considered approach of presenting the drive in these locations as a secondary resource - a route you could use to explore the local area.