John Wood to launch 2017 Naturally Loddon Spring Festival

Published on 17 August 2017

Join beloved Australian actor John Wood this Father’s Day, 3 September, against the backdrop of John and Sonia Piccoli’s Star Spanner Sculpture Gardens at Barraport, near Boort, for a special Open Day.

Organised by the Boort Business and Tourism Council, the day is part of this year’s Naturally Loddon Spring Festival.

Mr Wood will be a special guest speaker at the event, and will officially launch the festival’s calendar at 2pm.

Additionally, the day is certain to see locals and visitors take the chance to explore the gardens and John Piccoli’s expanding and fascinating display of metal sculptures crafted from spanners.

Mr Wood said he was looking forward to attending and speaking at the Father’s Day event.

“I have met John Piccoli and seen his amazing work, and I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that he really is something of a master,” he said.

“His spatial reality is extraordinary, particularly given the height and size of the works and that he is largely wheelchair bound, having contracted polio when he was just eight years old.”

Mr Wood added that his own family history had roots in the Boort area.

“My great grandparents actually lived in Boort,” Mr Wood said.

“It was fantastic to have Boort local Paul Haw show me a few years ago where their farm was and where they found the Boort Nugget. It was this find that gave my great grandparents the money to then move to the Murray.”

Mr Wood has been a part of the Australian entertainment industry for over 40 years, earning him a long list of credits for varied roles on stage and screen.

His television career was launched in 1976, playing Sugar Renfrey in the ABCTV production of Power Without Glory, for which he won his first Logie as Best Supporting Actor. He then went on to star in the hit drama Rafferty’s Rules in the 1980s as Magistrate Michael Rafferty.

From 1994 and for the next 12 years, he played the role of Tom Croydon in Blue Heelers, one of Australia’s highest ever rating television dramas. It culminated in John winning the prestigious Gold Logie in 2006, after 10 consecutive nominations as most popular person on Australian television.

He has subsequently appeared in a number of shows including It’s a Date, Paper Giants, Miss Fischer’s Murder Mysteries, Offspring, The Cut and as semi-regular Patrick Tyneman in the ABC’s The Doctor Blake Mysteries.

His stage career has included everything from Shakespeare to Williamson and a few musicals in between, winning a number of Best Actor awards along the way. Highlights have included The Twelfth Night opposite Geoffrey Rush, directed by Neil Armfield and playing Jock in The Club for almost every state theatre company over 15 years.

This year’s Naturally Loddon Spring Festival will see 15 family-friendly events held across the Loddon Valley region from Father’s Day until Saturday, 28 October.

This includes the ever-popular Kooyoora Wildflower Show, Wedderburn Vintage Machinery Rally and family weekend at Terrick Terrick National Park. The festival also features the Tarnagulla Strictly Vintage Fair, fishing competition, Pyramid Hill Fiesta, Boort’s annual metal sculpture competition, Tastes of Loddon and much more.

The Piccolis’ gardens will be open from 11am to 4pm, with the official launch of the Naturally Loddon Spring Calendar at 2pm.

The day will include an art display from Golden Rivers Artists, jumping castle and face painting. There will also be a barbecue, lunch and afternoon tea, catering on site and refreshments available all day.

“We usually get about 400 adults and 200 children, it’s quite a big day for us and the weather is usually nice,” Star Spanner Sculpture Gardens Sonia Piccoli added. “It’s just a lovely day.

“An addition this year is the Golden Rivers Artists. They are fantastic artists who are great at their art and I’m pretty excited that they’ll be here for the Open Day.”

Mrs Piccoli said last year the sculpture gardens had almost 8,000 visitors from all over Australia.

“We have visitors from Townsville, Brisbane, Perth, many from Adelaide, Horsham – all over really. It’s great as they stay and look at everything else in the area too.”

Entry for the 3 September Open Day is just $5 for adults, with children under 16 free. All proceeds will be donated to the pool of prizemoney for this year’s Boort Show metal sculpture competition.

For more information visit

Running from early September until the 28 October, the Naturally Loddon Spring Festival features 15 family-friendly events spread across the Shire. To obtain a festival brochure, phone the Loddon Visitor Information Centre on 5494 3489 or visit

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