Cr David Pahlke with his babies of Walloon
The community is so angry at what has happened.
IPSWICH City Council has doubled its reward for information on the well-executed theft of half of a much-loved statue at Walloon which pays tribute to Australian poet Henry Lawson.
Council was now offering a $4000 reward to anyone who provided information leading to the conviction of the person or people responsible for the senseless vandalism of the much-loved Babies of Walloon statue. The vandalism and theft at Henry Lawson Bicentennial Park is believed to have taken place last Wednesday night.
Walloon had awoken last Thursday morning to discover that part of The Babies of Walloon statue, depicting Bridget and Mary Broderick who were immortalised in the Henry Lawson poem in 1891, was missing. “The cast bronze, ceramic and Italian glass mosaic sculpture depicted the two girls playing and the thieves actually cut off and removed one of the girls.
“Some sort of tool was using to cut the statue up and council suspects the stolen piece will be melted down by the thieves.”
Lawson wrote The Babies of Walloon after hearing the sad but true story of two young girls who drowned in a waterhole at Walloon at the turn of the nineteenth century. Aged six and nine, the two daughters of a railway lengths man at Walloon, Bridget and Mary Broderick, were sent on an errand by their parents and it is believed that they were attracted by some water-lilies in a waterhole near their home.

In 2010, Iconic Australian actor Jack Thompson produced a limited edition CD of Henry Lawson poems, including a reading of The Babies of Walloon, in recognition of Ipswich’s 150th celebrations. The statue had been placed in the park in 2006 as a tribute to the Broderick sisters and their story and also to recognise the city’s special connection with Henry Lawson.

“This destruction is unbelievable and I am so angry about this as to me it is like desecrating a grave,” Cr Pahlke said. “The Walloon State School community is also extremely upset by this act of vandalism. “This park is across the road from the school so the school’s students have fulfilled a special role since 2007 as the guardians of this special park.” Cr Pahlke said the park was also home to a poet’s platform made of timber which featured a bronze bust of Henry Lawson likeness set into the lectern.

“Unfortunately this lecturn was stolen in December 2010 leaving council a $30,000 bill to replace it. “We are now faced with the costs to repair The Babies of Walloon statue too.”

Cr Pahlke said council had worked hard to turn Henry Lawson Bicentennial Park into one of the city’s showcase parks. “We wanted to capture images from Lawson’s poem and recognise and celebrate the special link between Henry Lawson and the Walloon area.”
Walloon Ipswich was immensely proud of its link to Lawson. There are not many communities in Australia that can lay fame to a poem by the literary icon. The Henry Lawson connection also led to the establishment of the Ipswich Poetry Feast in 2002. This annual event is co-ordinated by council and the community and incorporates poetry writing workshops, a poets’ breakfast, a written poetry competition which attracts an average of 1000 entrants annually and an awards presentation evening.
Anyone with any information on last week’s theft and vandalism should contact the police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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