(Uncle Ossie Cruse. Photo by Karen Wootton)

Ossie Cruse walks quietly, gently and proudly. Wearing his unique hat, Ossie has a big story to tell of a life of hardship and redemption and of persistence and resilience. He has known the love and respect of family and community, and he has experienced biased, baseless hatred. Ossie Cruse wears both his hat and his dignity well. At 86 he has a ready smile and a warmth that transmits from his eyes to his handshake. Charisma is what Ossie has, and he has it in abundance.

Ossie and his wife Robin (they met a few years ago when she contacted him as part of her PhD in gum leaf playing) wandered into our orbit while admiring Jimmy’s mural. Ossie explained to Lois that the Plover is his totemic (spiritual) emblem so Lois immediately gave Ossie her Hoodie pin and he popped it straight onto the front of his distinctive hat. A conversation ensued with Chris learning that ‘Uncle Ossie’ lives in Eden and is a humble man with an incredible story.

From his early involvement in land rights he has dedicated his life to the advancement of Aboriginal people and to the survival and sharing of Aboriginal culture and knowledge. He’s a man who respects his ancestral home and has a passion for gum leaf playing and treading lightly on the land. Ossie loved Jimmy’s Hoodie mural.

We always believed, once our mural project commenced, it would connect people with nature and help raise awareness of the challenges facing our coastal environment and its inhabitants. We could never have imagined that, through the mural, we would meet Ossie Cruse MBE, OAM, a national treasure who would give us tips on gum leaf playing and pin a Hoodie badge proudly on his hat. Art truly has the power to connect.

Do yourself a favour and watch the ‘Australian Story’ episode on Ossie at

Our world needs more people like Ossie.

By Karen Wootton (Friends of the Hooded Plover Newsletter, Issue 40, April 2020)


We don’t have silos on the Mornington Peninsula. No industrial sites with fabulous rustic walls ripe for art. No railway stations crying out for a tart up. We do however have a plan…… We have a site, we have Parks Victoria onboard, we have a subject and, most importantly, we have Jimmy!

James ‘Jimmy’ Beattie is a renowned Melbourne aerosol artist whose work, under the moniker ‘Dvate’, adorns major sites including the much-visited Victorian silo art trail. He works in both the national and international street art scene and has a passion for conservation. Dvate’s images draw attention to our precious native animals, and his respect and connection to nature are clearly represented in his stunning works. Jimmy came to the attention of the Friends of the Hooded Plover (Mornington Peninsula) last year when he contacted our then president Diane Lewis about a work he was planning in Frankston as part of the inaugural ‘Big Picture’ street art festival. Jimmy wanted to create a piece that focused attention on a local threatened species, our precious Hoodies. Mark Lethlean generously made some of his glorious Hoodie photos available and the result is the magnificent image shown below.

Jimmy’s artwork at Frankston. Photo by Karen Wootton

Of course, we wanted more and, while we still have some paperwork issues to work through, Jimmy has agreed to adorn a space in the Mornington Peninsula National Park with one of his brilliant creations. We couldn’t be more thrilled. We’ll keep the location under wraps at the moment, just until all the legal requirements are complete, but we believe that Jimmy’s images will create a new talking point about Hooded Plovers and indeed, the issue of coastal conservation. It won’t be a huge artwork but it will be in a highly visible location with a spectacular backdrop. We’re hoping to have the artwork progress shortly, with Jimmy and his family staying on the peninsula for the duration of the project. We aim to create a festive air around the process, to engage the community and draw attention to the positive impact we can all have when we respect and share the coastal environment.

We can’t wait to share the next phase with everyone, and to unveil the end result. To say that we’re a bit excited would be an understatement. Stay tuned to welcome a new Hoodie (or two or three) to the peninsula. A huge thank you must go to Parks Victoria, and to Jimmy, for agreeing to be part of this wonderful initiative.

by Karen Wootton, Word about the Hood edition 22