The Daily Telegraph

Iconic NRL mural to be preserved at Sammut Group’s landmark

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A much-celebrated piece of street art depicting Cronulla Shark legends Paul Gallen and Andrew Ettingshausen is to be saved, thanks to the efforts of leading Sydney developer, Sammut Group. 

The mural, entitled Up Up Cronulla, is currently located on the corner wall of The Kingsway and Croydon Street; the future site of the Sammut Group’s luxury development, VUE. 

The $350M mixed-use project will sit on the prominent 5225 sqm site at the northern end of Cronulla Mall in the heart of Cronulla and is set over two eight-storey buildings sharing a double-storey podium. 

The development will include 112 apartments, 880 sqm of commercial space and 3000 sqm of retail space including Harris Farm Markets. 

Sammut Group Development Manager Matthew Crews said Sammut Group understands the significance of the mural and has been determined to honour its place in VUE. 

“The mural has become a local landmark at the gateway to Cronulla, where it was painted on the Triple-Bull Surf Shop which will be removed for the start of construction,” he said.

“The Sammut family grew up in Cronulla and are big fans of the Sharks, and so we wanted to do whatever it took to ensure the mural be preserved.”

The preservation has seen the mural photographed and digitally printed as an ultra-high-resolution image. When the development is completed, it will take pride of place in VUE’s high-traffic retail zone, beside one of the largest Harris Farm supermarkets in Sydney – installed in its full glory and to the same dimensions that it currently appears. 

A key moment for the Sharks

Sunday 2 October 2016, will be a date that few in the Shire will ever forget. It was the day the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks won the NRL Grand Final against the Melbourne Storm, 14-12. This was the Sharks’ first premiership title in the club’s 49-year history, and emotions were running high. 

Those emotions were brilliantly captured on the field after the game in a now iconic image – 50 Years of Tears – depicting then the Sharks Premiership Paul Gallen and club Immortal Andrew Ettingshausen (ET) in a tearful embrace. It became the first sports image to win the Walkley Award for Photograph of the Year. 

NRL photographer Grant Trouville said he’ll always remember the moment when the final whistle blew.

“I ran straight over to Paul Gallen and decided to stick with him. There was some post-match celebrating and jumping around and a few minutes later I saw ET coming towards him and they locked eyes and touched foreheads and had a hug. The photo I took was just after the initial embrace. They were both crying, it was awesome. I was in the right spot at the right time,” said Mr Trouville. 

Preserving history

The NRL later commissioned an artist to create a mural version of the photograph. It was to be part of a series of murals that have gone into site-specific locations around Sydney. 

Street artist Sid Tapia said it took him three and a half days to paint.

“While I was painting, I had people shooting photographs, bringing their families along, and tooting their horns as they drove past. It’s an iconic image for the area. I know that there’s a lot of love and pride around it.” 

Former Cronulla captain Paul Gallen recalls heading down to the mural with Andrew Ettingshausen when it was just finished, and the pair of them having the photo taken with it. 

“The respect that’s been shown to the mural is fantastic. It’s been there for years and never been defaced. That goes to show what the mural means to the community. 

“Allen Sammut has been really forthcoming in making sure the mural is preserved and honoured in some way. He even asked me if I wanted it for my house! I told him I had nowhere to put it. He’s asked the club. He’s done everything he can, he’s gone above and beyond to make sure it will still be recognised in some way. I can’t thank him enough for his efforts.” 

Sammut Group CEO Allan Sammut is a life-long Sharks fanatic and wouldn’t have it any other way. 

“I’m born and bred in the Sutherland Shire and Cronulla’s been my home for 30 years; I love the area and I love the Sharks,” he said. 

“I actually went to school with Andrew. He always excelled in sport and I remember the day he got picked to play for the Sharks, it was a really big deal at school.

“The mural has survived for years without being graffitied, and that just goes to show the respect that Andrew Ettingshausen and Paul Gallen are shown in our local community. I want to ensure that the community doesn’t lose sight of that great Grand Final moment in Cronulla’s history, and I think the mural is a big part of it. That’s why I want to play a part in finding it a new home at VUE.” 

Construction is expected to commence during the third quarter of 2023 and will take around two years to complete. 

The VUE Display Suite is located 76 Cronulla Street, Cronulla open Monday – Sunday 10.30am – 3.30pm or by appointment.