Mardi Gras. Arguably the biggest day on the queer yearly calendar. It’s the day where all people celebrate the vibrancy, diversity and acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community. In past years, the UNSW Queer Collective have had the opportunity to represent the students and staff of the uni in the parade itself. Unfortunately, at the end of 2019, we got the upsetting news that despite being the type of institution that prides itself on its young, queer community we were not able to continue our tradition.Sara Carrabs

While it meant that UNSW would not have a float, WE DID NOT LET IT SLOW US DOWN! We didn’t need a spot in the parade to showcase all the amazing and diverse people of this community at UNSW!

So, we took all the efforts that would’ve been contributed to parade preparations and hurled ourselves into planning events and projects geared to align with the theme of ‘What Matters’ which encompassed Mardi Gras this year.

Enter our Mardi Gras Garden Installation: the Rainbow Garden!

Using concept drawings from our would-be float, a dedicated student team repurposed them to serve as a foundation for an interactive art installation. The driving concept was to create a space where the broader UNSW community could go, relax and actively participate in Mardi Gras festivities in the week leading up to the parade.

This culminated into our little Rainbow Garden. With all the plants pictured being sourced locally from the council run Barker Street Nursery, our installation was formed! We put together the garden out of wooden platforms, which we built out of plyboard and pinewood. The tools we used in the Makerspaces were a (very loud) nail gun, miter saw and a couple of paintbrushes.

As well as being beautiful, the installation itself was the outcome of weeks of preparation and hard work. It was only through the full and utter support of student volunteers, UNSW’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion department and UNSW Engineering and Makerspaces that this result was achieved.

So while the project itself was a success and a meaningful addition to UNSW’s commitment to Mardi Gras, it was much much more. The process itself and collaborative efforts of all parties involved to support the LGBTQIA+ really highlighted the purpose and meaning of Mardi Gras.

If you are a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and study Engineering, we would love if you joined our society; Engiqueers and get involved! Contact us at

Also, if you are interested in making your own projects or a rainbow garden like us, I would 100% recommend the Makerspace! They have a great supportive team of technical staff, which help teach student use the tools, machines and fabrication tools available to UNSW students.

Check the Makerspaces here and ensure you do your inductions!