WHEN world renowned street artist Heesco Khosnaran was asked to come and paint murals in Yarram, he had no idea that he wasn’t the only Mongolian in the area.
Local Gippsland resident, Kathleen Keene, heard about the murals being painted by Heesco and was excited to hear he was Mongolian.
“I contacted Heesco and sent him information about my great grandfather, Chin Langtip, who had moved to Australia from Mongolia in the 1850’s and arranged for him to meet my brother Ron, and as they say the rest is history,” she explains.
“I am blown away by what Heesco has done and feel so proud I got it all started.”
She is talking about a huge 23 metre mural that now adorns the wall of the Sports Stadium on the corner of Smith and Grant Streets in Yarram.
“It’s been a very long process and it’s great to see that everyone is loving it,” Heesco said.
He first met up with Kathleen’s brother, Ron Shiels, and his wife Trish at the Bull Bar & Gallery in Yarram where he was painting the first of the murals. They met again recently with other members of the family, Boyd, and Margie Langtip, at the cemetery in Alberton where Chin Langtip is buried.
They told Heesco the fascinating story of how Chin had arrived as a nineteen-year-old from Mongolia and had soon established his own prosperous market garden business in Tarraville.
“In 1870 Chin married my great grandmother Mary Ann Prout and several years later, Mary Ann’s sister, Elizabeth, became his second wife. Between them they had 17 children,” Ron said.
In February 1916, four of the sons, Leslie, Bertie, Ernie, and Henry were assigned to the 16th Reinforcements for the 4th Light Horse Regiment. They all returned home to Victoria in 1919 after having fought in the battle of Beersheba ending a crucial battle in the Sinai Palestine campaign of World War One.
Devon North resident Melinda Darer brought her Waler horse Will down to meet Heesco.
“Will the Waler is a descendant of the horses rode by the Australian light horsemen,” she explained.
“They have a perfect temperament as they are not easily spooked.
“Unfortunately, most of them were not able to be brought back from the war for various reasons and had to be killed,” Melinda said.
This latest mural has brought several of the Langtip descendants together, the latest being Evelyn Parr from Wangaratta. Evelyn only found out about her Mongolian heritage two years ago and through a friend was put in touch with Wayne Tindall.
She was beamed into a meeting in Yarram via zoom where relatives she had never met, Ron and Trish Shiels from Sale, Boyd and Margie Langtip from Foster and Peter and Vicki Langley from Korumburra were meeting with Heesco Town members Eric Greenaway, Garry Stephens, Wayne Tindall, and Heesco.
They shared their stories of their connection to Chin Langtip and how many of them and their children shared the distinctive blue birthmark that many Mongolians have when they are born.
Heesco and his children were also born with the birthmark, which fades over time.
“The old house my great great grandfather Chin built in Tarraville is still standing,” Peter Langley said.
“We are all so proud to be honoured in this way,” Boyd and Margie Langtip added.
This mural is the 24th one to be painted as part of Heesco Town and it has taken a while for Heesco to come up with the design.
This one depicts some of Heesco’s and the Langtip’s history on a massive scale.
It was funded by Friends of Heesco Town, local benefactor Eric Greenaway and a grant from Multicultural Victoria with assistance from the Shire of Wellington to prepare the wall.
Because of the severe storm that hit the region on Friday, October 29 Heesco was unable to complete it as planned but will return shortly to put the finishing touches to it.
Local resident, Mandy Veneman, says it might be her favourite one yet. “It’s difficult to say as they are all so fantastic,” she enthused, along with hundreds of others on Facebook from all-around Australia.
Heesco Town has quite a following here in Australia and right around the world after taking out the 2020 Gold Street Art Award for best Art Trail in Australia.