The Atherton Tablelands is a beautiful cluster of rural villages surrounded by internationally significant rainforests. In 1995 John Mongard Landscape Architects were invited to come and propose some ideas for Atherton’s Main Street. What resulted was a collaborative planning and placemaking process that would span over ten years and result in the cultural and environmental re-orientation of the four villages; Atherton, Tolga, Tinaroo and Kairi. Working from a vacant Target store on the Main Street, John Mongard enacted his first ‘Set-up Shop’ collaborative design process, inviting residents, Councilors, planning and garden staff to set down what things made each village special and to list ideas and strategies for achieving this. The excitement that this generated would be the springboard for a framework of over twenty smaller plans that would rebuild each town over time, giving them strong leadership, and letting people dream and build for themselves.
The original four village’s placemaking strategy was embodied in a community plan which did not distinguish between town planning and civic planning. It was decided that the plans must create physical improvements to streets, parks and entries, thus supporting local trade and tourism.