THEY might have only just been officially unveiled, but Naracoorte's town entrances are already making an impact.
Four years in the making, Naracoorte's town entrances were unveiled last Sunday - capping off the efforts of the Naracoorte Lucindale Business and Tourism Association and Naracoorte Lucindale Council.
A large crowd of 130 interested people were present at the ceremony at the north entrance on Bordertown Rd.
Naracoorte Caves manager Deborah Carden said the entrance sculptures had already given the town a boost in their short time.
"It's added to the whole town impression," she said, adding that the caves had seen a recognisable trend in people coming out from the town after seeing the entrance sculptures.
Back in 2003-04, similar sculptures were installed at the entrance to the Naracoorte Caves and it was suggested similar sculptures mark the entrances to the town itself.
Now, in 2012, they do.
The arrival of the diprotodon to the town's north entrance and a mother and baby zygomaturus has not been lost on passing tourists.
"I think people are taking notice of how we now have the set," Ms Carden concluded.
The wheels for the erection of town entrance sculptures started to be set in motion in 2008 when members of the business and tourism association worked on a project as part of a community benefits program.
In 2009 a town entrance committee was formed - comprising councillors, council staff and business and tourism association members.
The committee, which disbanded earlier this year, was charged with formulating options for the entrances.
Naracoorte Lucindale mayor Erika Vickery said the partnership between the business and tourism association and council was more than just brainstorming.
"This relationship was not only to develop the concepts but was also a financial agreement," she said.
Council allocated $40,000 to the project and the business and tourism association contributed a further $10,000, which was handed over by former association president and now vice-president Julie Earl on Sunday.Four concepts were considered by council in August, 2011, with two going to public consultation.
In February this year it decided on a design by Adelaide artist Steve Hayter.
"Steve's vision was that the discovery of mega fauna fossils at the Naracoorte caves is of international significance and the uniqueness of this site should be celebrated," Mrs Vickery said.
Mr Hayter had been working with the caves for the past decade with their megafauna sculptures.
He learned of the project and set about his designs.
"They wanted megafauna," he said. "These ones were the two left - I went for the biggest ones."
The creation of the sculptures took "four to five" weeks of work for Mr Hayter and his team.
"It's a bit of a process," he said. "It's quite tricky and involved - the ribs are quite difficult."
"Dippy" the diprotodon, Naracoorte's north entrance sculpture, was particularly difficult because of its sheer weight and thickness." We had to get Dippy rolled in a factory," Mr Hayter said.
The difficulty was compounded by the material itself - the artist wanted to reflect natural and organic life.
"The sculptures are designed to be organic - to which steel doesn't lend itself well."
But, after weeks of painstaking work bending, shaping, cutting and lifting the sculptures, Mr Hayter was quite pleased with the outcome.
The sculptures have taken pride of place in their positions at the edge of town and now stand as a reminder of Naracoorte's heritage and historical significance.
"I was very happy with the whole thing," he said.
A lot of work was done to make the sculptures accessible to people - who are able to get up close and personal with the structures.
"That involved a lot of cleaning up," Mr Hayter remarked.
Exposed to the elements, Mr Hayter has acknowledged that rust will be a factor - but he was prepared to go along with Mother Nature.
"It was always going to happen, we might as well work with it," he shrugged. "I'm quite happy with the rustic look."
Taking a step back, Mr Hayter was asked to choose his favourite out of the two new sculptures.
Despite the immediate prominence and affectionate naming of "Dippy", the sculptures' creator leaned towards the smaller mother and baby zygomaturus at the south entrance.
"It's a bit more personal," he said about the south entrance sculpture. "The mother and baby zygomaturus - it's family bonding."