nature tourism services logo
interpretive signage heading integrated landscape outcomes heading

Above: Entry signage at the Mungo Meeting Place, Mungo National Park. Created in 2010, the venue presents 3D scanned replicas of Mungo renowned human fossil trackways – the world's largest collection of ice age human fossil footprints. The actual location of the footprints is carefully guarded as part of their preservation program.

Considered landscape settings are the tapestry against which interpretive signs are hung. Addressing one without the other may sometimes be necessary, but such an outcome is always sub-optimal.

Landscapes define the experience on offer whilst interpretation signs help people attribute values and meanings to the encounter.

Along the way, visitor orientation signs exist to guide the visitor and ensure they they can undertake their chosen activity confident of where they are in the landscape and where they are going.

Without this bedrock of visitor security - of people sure their location and positioned within a node that sets them aside from the main visitor flow corridors around them – interpretation signs are of limited utility.

With these features in place however, interpretation signs can then look to determine the signage structural design, sign content and graphic styles needed to communicate their messages effectively.

Below: The entry node to the Wallaces Heritage Trail on the Bogong High Plains in Victoria presents the visitor with both essential orientation material and also interpretive content. The platform was designed to provide a natural congregation point aside from the main road corridor where people can take in the scenery and interpretive content on offer in a secure and relaxed setting.

wallaces heritage trail entry lookout interpretive sign designs heading

A feature of all our graphic design work on interpretation signage is the way in which we create customised backdrops for each sign in Photoshop prior to adding the text in Indesign.

In this way the graphics derive directly from the combination of the theme being presented and the imagery being used to underpin this.

The text then commonly sits as a caption to the graphic material and in this way a tight integration and equality is achieved between text and imagery.

To further support this process we commonly use deep etching of images to ensure that the visual element directly relevant to the content being portrayed is clearly presented.

We do not use standard interpretive sign design templates for our work but rather approach each design job from first principles whereby the content and function of the sign dictates the layout.

This variety of responses is reflected in the gallery below featuring a sample of our interpretation sign designs.

consistency without cloning heading

While consistency to deliver a coherent brand presence across an interpretation signage ensemble is clearly essential, we always seek to achieve this without resorting to cloning a particular interpretive signage design template.

Visitors should approach each interpretation sign with a sense of encountering new content that is presented in its own unique setting as informed by the relevant messages being conveyed.

This approach does increase the design challenges involved with a given project as every interpretive sign in effect becomes an "original" undertaking. The vibrance it delivers to an interpretive signage ensemble however more than makes up for this additional creative investment.

One example of our work in this regard comes in the case of a series of eight interpretive signs we produced for the City of Vincent, Perth, WA, in 2011. These interpretation signs were located along a 2km stretch of their Wetlands Heritage Trail.

scroll-across

Our interpretive designs for the Vincent Wetlands Heritage Trail used a strong line motif to divide the content areas of signs from each other

None of the interpretation signs started from a prescriptive template format. Rather they evolved from the nature of the visual material relevant to the panel

The strong white line demarcation was free to move around the design as needed. This then provided a framework for the images

Deep etching of feature images such as the birds ensured that these were clearly highlighted without being lost amidst their backdrop setting

As people move along the trail, each of the interpretive signs they encounter has a fresh presence and look that invites a fresh response on their part

The use of heritage maps overlain with the location of the original wetlands helped to give context to the previous extent of the resource

Deep etching of images was technique used across all the interpretive signs to help create an identity for the interpretation signage ensemble

Maps showing the fomrer location of the wetlands that are today largely subsumed by urban development were crucial inclusions in the interpretive signs

With this sign located alongside the major swimming centre complex with its dive tower, the opportunity presented itself to play some visual games

qr codes and signage header

Our research and development work in creating mobile digital solutions for nature tourism providers allows us to easily and cheaply integrate a digital component into our interpretive signage work.

This means interpretation signage can function both in a tradition capacity as a prime content delivery medium, while also offering visitors a portal into a richer online experience.

This approach delivers content in a web app format via the internet browser on the visitor's mobile phone. It means that they do not need to download an app to access the content. Rather all they need do is snap the QR code provided or else enter in a short URL to visit the relevant page.

Delivering content via the mobile phone or tablet's internet browser, also means that it can be translated on the fly by the user into their preferred language and that it is accessible to all user irrepsective of their choice of operating system. Further detail on all these products is included in the digital section of this website ...

scroll-across
QR code signage example

Signage at the Three Sisters links to the precinct's smartphone guide

QR code signage example

The orientation signage at Falls Creek relies on the supporting user guide web-app we developed

QR code signage example

The interpretive signage we did along the Coastal Recreational Path uses QR codes to link to video message content

QR code signage example

An onsite webapp page provides multi lingual content at the Three Sisters

QR code signage example

Interpretive signage at Stockton Wave Battery links to a supporting web portal

QR code signage example

Signage along the Towers Hill Walk at Charters Towers has a supporting body of online material

large scale projects heading

Sometimes large scale interpretation sign projects require new and innovative design solutions to be created. 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.

Below: Loading a large signage consignment for Falls Creek Alpine Resort into a B-Double semi-trailer at the Screenmakers factory at Queanbeyan. For more details about the Falls Creek major signage project visit the page featuring these works ...

loading semi trailer with signage great victorian railtrail

GREAT VICTORIAN RAILTRAIL

scroll-across
Great Victorian Railtrail example

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).

Great Victorian Railtrail example

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.

Great Victorian Railtrail example

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.

Great Victorian Railtrail example

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.

Great Victorian Railtrail example

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.

Great Victorian Railtrail example

The signage designs we developed embraced both background interpretive material as well as visitor orientation content.

Great Victorian Railtrail example

We were able to incorporate some striking heritage photography into our designs. This was very favourably received by the railtrail stakeholders.

Great Victorian Railtrail example

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.

watchbed creek

BOGONG HIGH PLAINS

scroll-across
Bogong High Plains signage

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.

Bogong High Plains signage

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.

Bogong High Plains signage

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.

Bogong High Plains signage

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.

Bogong High Plains 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.

Bogong High Plains signage

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.

Bogong High Plains signage

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.

Bogong High Plains signage

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.

GERALDTON INTERPRETIVE TRAILS

scroll-across
Geraldton Trails Interpretive signage

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.

Geraldton Trails Interpretive signage

A key part of the trail roll out was the establishment of entry node signage at key points along the main city promenade.

Geraldton Trails Interpretive signage

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.

Geraldton Trails Interpretive signage

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.

Geraldton Trails Interpretive signage

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.

Geraldton Trails Interpretive signage

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.

Geraldton Trails Interpretive signage

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.

Geraldton Trails Interpretive signage

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.

MARYSVILLE BUSHFIRE RECOVERY

scroll-across
Marysville Trails  signage

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.

Marysville Trails  signage

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.

Marysville Trails  signage

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.

Marysville Trails  signage

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.

Marysville Trails  signage

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.

Marysville Trails  signage

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.

Marysville Trails  signage

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.

Marysville Trails  signage

With the trails embracing a section of the Bicentennial National Trail, material relating to horseriding was also an important component of the messaging.

GREAT TROPICAL DRIVE

scroll-across
Great Tropical Drive signage

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.

Great Tropical Drive signage

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.

Great Tropical Drive signage

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.

Great Tropical Drive signage

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.

Great Tropical Drive signage

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.

Great Tropical Drive signage

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.

Great Tropical Drive signage

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.