greta christmas mural australia
© Benalla Rural City/Facebook
A massive mural of Great Thunberg has been painted as part of a small town's Christmas celebrations.
An 'a-political' country council is finding itself at the centre of a civic storm after a local artist painted a huge mural of teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg on the side of one of its buildings.

The image was created as part of Benalla Rural City's annual Window to Window Christmas festival, in which artists paint seasonal pictures on shop windows across the town.

The town is about 212km north-east of Melbourne in the Victorian high country.

A large colour portrait of 16-year-old Thunberg now adorns the side of the council's Customer Service Centre, but not everyone is happy.

Benalla Mayor Danny Claridge told 7NEWS.com.au the council left it up to the artists to work out what to paint.

Debate follows

"We as a council had no input," he said.

"It was always going to be a surprise to us what went up there, whether it was Santa Claus or Greta. There appears (among residents) to be 50-50, for and against.

He added that the mural was garnering "a lot of discussion".

"We as a council just look at it as a wonderful work of art but we are not sitting on either side," he told 7NEWS.com.au.

"We as a council are a-political, we don't get involved in the politics.

"We are very concerned about the environment as a council, but we are not sitting on either side."

Social media comments echo the mayor's assessment. While some were broadly supportive, others were ferocious.


"Extremely disappointing that Council allowed such a controversial person to be put up anywhere in Benalla," one commenter said.

"I really hope my rates didn't pay for that s***," another person said.

Others posted critical memes and questioned the picture's relevance.

"Another p*** poor decision by our council," one said.

"How very progressive of u (slow clap) clearly u thought we are from the latte sipping , manbun wearing hipster inner city crowd (we are sooo not) and what the hell has this to do with christmas?"

Council concern

Meanwhile, two of the city's councillors expressed their concern to Sky News.

Peter Davis told the news channel he was surprised and a "bit disappointed" by the mural, and the council had to be "neutral" as it represented a broad range of people with diverse views.

"I am personally a bit disappointed it never came over council's desk because at the end of the day the council is responsible for what goes on our buildings," he said.

And fellow councillor Don Firth said he had received many complaints, and the mural should have reflected Christmas more obviously.

"I can't tell you what the Christmas touch is on Greta's mural," he said.

Meanwhile, Beralla mayor Danny Claridge told 7NEWS.com.au the Christmas tone of the mural could be seen in the little red bauble dangling from Thunberg's right ear in the picture.