Cheryl Castle has made a train, a Rat rod, a set of babushka dolls, Darth Vader, and memorials for ANZAC and Remembrance Days.
The catch? They’re made of unused tyres.
Cheryl has a special ability to turn unused junk into things that’ll make you smile.
She’s better known as the Park Ridge Tyre Tree Lady.
Her creative sculptures made from old tyres have made her property a landmark in the Park Ridge community.
July saw two beloved characters of children’s TV – Bluey and Bingo – waving cheerfully on the side of Park Ridge Road.
Head out to Park Ridge in September and you might spot a few (very naughty) sheep celebrating our Olympic Champions.
The community response to Cheryl’s creations has been immense.
“Unexpected” is how Cheryl describes it.
“Really it is a pile of rubbish, it really is. But you’ve got to think about it in a different way,” she says.
Cheryl has been thinking differently since she was young.
Her roots to Park Ridge go back to her childhood but she’s moved around since then.
Growing up without much meant Cheryl and her siblings were forced to innovate.
“I remember we went out to the Tanami Desert when I was a teenager and where we were staying – in a little shack in the desert – had no beds for us kids, so it was my mom and four kids.”
Cheryl’s family scrapped together different bits and pieces from around town to make their beds.
It’s a story that exemplifies how Cheryl thinks about things.
“We didn’t have Tupperware or things like that. You know, we just reused what we had.”
“My mom has always been like that.”
“You know like create a garden out of nothing from a few rocks she found lying around.”
“It’s creativity borne from need, from resourcefulness,” Cheryl says.
When Cheryl moved to Park Ridge with her husband Terry five years ago they were confronted with an overgrown property.
It was filled with a disproportionate number of old tyres and dotted with innovate artwork made from old junk.
For Cheryl it was an opportunity to let her imagination run wild.
“I think at this property I met my kindred spirit,” Cheryl says.
“My husband refused to pay to have the tyres taken to the recycling place, so I thought well the only thing I can do is find a use for them.”
It was on a holiday to the Northern Territory when Cheryl discovered a tyre creation – a Christmas tree – by the side of the road.
“I said to Terry, my husband, I’m doing that with those tyres when we get home!”
“So that was the first Christmas tyre tree that we made.”
“People would just pull over on the side of the road when they saw us out mowing or whatever and come in and say, oh we love your Christmas tree, good job!”
Cheryl says the community love for her creations keeps her making more.
“I think people love the creativity,” Cheryl says.
“Everything now is pre-made and pre-designed, pre-done.”
“A lot of people don’t have the space or the ability to be creative and artistic anymore. And I think that’s what people are really drawn to.”
Each time Cheryl puts out a new creation there’s a flurry of likes on Facebook and strangers taking photos out the front of her property.
“I just put it out there as a bit of art, a bit of sunshine as people drive past.”
“I try to coordinate things being done so when the kids start coming to school again, there’ll be a new thing.”
She’s just grateful she can put a smile on people’s faces while sharing a positive message.
Cheryl hopes her creations will inspire others to reuse old things instead of just throwing them away.
“People don’t do that anymore. It’s just constantly buying a new one,” Cheryl explains.
“If you get that message in a fun way, in a subliminal way, then that’s just the way the mind works.”
When the tyre creations have run their cycle they go back to the pile to be turned into something new.
“We’ve reused them heaps and heaps of times. They get spray painted a re-spray painted, and re-re-spray painted,” Cheryl says.
Some creations are more meaningful than others.
“I love doing the ANZAC and Remembrance Day ones, they mean a lot to a lot of people,” Cheryl says.
“I think the last year and coming up to this year of not been able to do services potentially this year, you know, it’s just something down the road and people can still get that sight and remember.”
Her babushka dolls now sit at the local day care centre who asked Cheryl if she could put something together for the kids.
“I’ve got a big pile of all of the cards and letters and notes that people have either sent or put in the mail, I’ve kept all of them,” Cheryl says.
Cheryl’s taken plenty of requests in the past but one moved her more than the others.
“Someone left me a letter in the mailbox saying that their son has autism and he is very bad driving in the car and gets very distraught, being strapped into the car seat.”
“So they were driving past and saw something, I can’t remember which one, and he was just like, oh, wow, and he just sat and talked about it and he stopped thrashing about and trying to unbuckle his seatbelt.”
“She wrote me a letter and she said, oh, he loves robots, now we tell him if he’s good in the car, we’ll drive past the tyres.”
Cheryl built the young boy a robot which was an instant hit.
These days it’s often a passing comment that will inspire Cheryl to create something new.
“At first especially I was looking, just Google, you know, things made of car tyres.”
“Now I’ve got a lot of bits and bobs together that I use all the time so sometimes I just recycle what I’ve got.”
“The other day, a couple of months ago, my granddaughter said to me, oh, when we go inside, can I watch Bluey? And I was just thought, oh Bluey, I can make dogs out of it!”
Cheryl tries to put out a new tyre creation each month.
“It’s become a landmark,” she admits.
“We even used to have people that lived across the road and apparently they used to tell people, we live across from the tyre tree lady, because it was easier than trying to explain where they were.”
The community response on Facebook is always immense.
“This is amazing,” one user writes.
“You make a lot of people happy,” writes another. “Not just the children but the adults as well.”
“They are so happy and colourful,” write a third.
“I just want to thank everyone,” Cheryl adds.
“It really is amazing how many people are really interested in it.”
“I’m pretty thrilled that they get the concept.”
Visit Chery’s Facebook page Park Ridge Tyre Tree Lady below,