IT'S full steam ahead for the Mary Poppins project.
Southern Highlands Youth Arts Council (SHYAC) received a $26,400 boost for the life-size Mary Poppins statue proposed for Bowral's Glebe Park through a federal government grant this week.
SHYAC's Paul McShane said the Tourism Quality Grant would allow the project to continue seamlessly from the sculpting to bronze casting stage.
Mr McShane said almost $50,000 had been raised for the project so far and the grant money was a significant step forward.
"It's pretty much enabled us to complete the project," he said.
Mr McShane hoped the statue would be ready for official unveiling by about March next year.
He had applied for the grant in April, however, the process was "hugely competitive" and he had almost lost hope the application would be successful.
"It's a huge shot in the arm."
Mr McShane acknowledged the community and political support the project had received, particularly from Campbell-Jones Real Estate, the Bradman Foundation, Biblio Quest International and Terry and Joy Oakes-Ash for providing pledges.
"We couldn't have done the application without them," he said.
Throsby MP Stephen Jones announced the grant on Wednesday.
Mr Jones said the project would potentially help create more employment opportunities in the region, especially in the retail and hospitality sectors.
"When built, this statue will become a feature attraction in the area and form the basis for a range of events, festivals and tourism campaigns, which will be a fantastic boost for the Highlands," he said.
"I was pleased to give my support to this project because of the flow-on effects it will undoubtedly have on the local economy."
The Tourism Quality Grants program awarded almost $6.7 million to 77 innovative tourism projects in Australia during the latest round of offers in the four-year scheme.