Adrian Connor from Whitsunday Sand Art is questioning whether to continue his foreshore market sand sculptures.
Adrian Connor from Whitsunday Sand Art is questioning whether to continue his foreshore market sand sculptures. Jacob Wilson

Iconic Airlie sand sculptor wants to know where he stands

WATCHING the smiles on people's faces is what motivates Adrian Connor to spend 15 hours building his sand sculptures and sleeping overnight to protect it for the Airlie Beach Foreshore markets.

But after a run of bad luck, his iconic sculptures could be a thing of the past for the Foreshore and Cruise Ship markets

After constructing a love heart sculpture as a backdrop to a wedding last Friday afternoon, the masterpiece was left briefly unprotected and was destroyed that night.

"It was pretty disappointing because it was an unpaid job and it was one I was doing for free to advertise myself to get into the wedding market,” he said.

"The groom and bride were also disappointed because we had a photo shoot organised to do around the love hearts and in the morning it wasn't there and I didn't have time to re-build it.”

The wedding sand sculpture was destroyed the night before a wedding ceremony.
The wedding sand sculpture was destroyed the night before a wedding ceremony. Facebook

Things got worse for him while sleeping outside his dragon sculpture ahead of the Airlie Beach Foreshore markets when he was woken up by a security guard at 11pm and was issued a $240 fine for illegal camping.

Mr Connor said he had been doing his sand sculptures for the last three years, but it might not be worth continuing if he has no means to protect it.

"I don't hurt anyone or anything by doing it, its only sand off the beach and water off the ocean and I make a lot of people smile while doing it,” he said.

"My sculptures are in the cruise ship brochure, it is very well known and on average 500-5000 pictures go around the world advertising our region a week.

"I've been doing this for three years and they've known very well that I've been sleeping here so why wasn't I told that I couldn't?

"Without being able to stay here and look after it, I can't build it.”

A Whitsunday Regional Council spokesperson said Mr Connor had been previously warned there could not be any exceptions when it came to illegal camping breaches

"Unfortunately, Mr Connor's sand sculpture has been subject to vandalism and we urge the community to report anyone attempting to vandalise public or private property," the spokesperson said.

"However, according to Local Law Number 4, camping is not permitted on the Airlie Beach Foreshore and this must be enforced fairly to all parties. Where people are seen to be camping in this area, they are given the opportunity to move on prior to any fines being issued, as was the case with Mr Connor.

"Council is happy to meet with Mr Connors to discuss alternative solutions to protect his sculptures from vandalism, such as commencing sculpting in the early hours of the morning as one example."

Mr Connors claimed "double standards” were at play and said Council and Tourism Whitsundays both allowed him to sleep overnight for three days to protect his sand sculpture in preparation for the Today Show broadcast earlier this year.

"They brought me the sand, and I was there with security, council and Tourism Whitsundays because the Today Show wanted it,” he said.

"I wasn't told to go home or fined, they were very helpful on that one.

"Council never did anything wrong by me and never harassed me, I just want to know why I got fined?”

As the owner of his own business, Whitsunday Sand Art, he makes a modest living relying on tips from the Foreshore Markets for payment.

" I get less than a bloke on a days wage, on average about $100, maybe a bit more or less,” he said.

He plans to continue to grow his business to produce sculptures for weddings, events, corporate functions and body building workshops.

Mr Connor hopes to continue his sand sculpture at the markets, either by obtaining a permit to camp overnight or by having a protective fence surrounding it overnight.


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