Cr Pahlke with the vandalised statue
IPSWICH City Council has received a generous offer to help repair a vandalised statue at Walloon which pays tribute to Australian poet Henry Lawson.  Joy Chambers and Reg Grundy have offered $5000 towards repairing the damage.
Tourism and Libraries Committee Chairperson Councillor David Pahlke said it was discovered on February 2 that part of the Babies of Walloon statue, depicting sisters Bridget and Mary Broderick who were immortalised in a Henry Lawson poem in 1891, was missing.
Thieves cut off and removed one of the cast bronze statues of the girls and significantly damaged the second statue in a well-executed theft and council suspects the stolen piece will be melted down.   The statue has been located in Henry Lawson Bicentennial Park since 2006 as a tribute to the late Broderick sisters and their story and also to recognise the city’s special connection with Henry Lawson.
Lawson wrote The Babies of Walloon after hearing the sad but true story of two young girls who drowned in a Walloon waterhole at the turn of the nineteenth century.  Cr Pahlke said council had been touched by an offer of $5000 towards the repair of the statue from Joy Chambers and Reg Grundy who were long-time supporters of the city.
“Joy is an author of historical novels and an Australian actress best known for her roles as Rita Merrick in The Restless Years, Rosemary Daniels in Neighbours and Dr Robyn Porter in The Young Doctors.“Joy’s husband Reg Grundy has long been a key figure in the history of Australian and international television production and is the man behind popular shows like The Young Doctors, Prisoner, Sons and Daughters, Sale of the Century and Neighbours,” Cr Pahlke said.
Joy was born in Ipswich and has always been extremely proud of this fact.  “Council was honoured when Joy accepted council’s invitation to become the international patron of the Ipswich Poetry Feast which has been running since 2002 and we thank them for offering to help council with The Babies of Walloon statue.”
The Ipswich Poetry Feast is an annual event, co-ordinated by council and the community, which incorporates poetry writing workshops, a poets’ breakfast, a written poetry competition which attracts an average of 1000 entrants and an awards presentation evening.
Mrs Chambers-Grundy said she and Reg were extremely sad to hear of the senseless vandalism of the Babies of Walloon statue.
“We only hope those responsible are caught as we could not believe that someone would act this way,” she said.  Mrs Chambers-Grundy said the couple wanted to donate $5000 to council to start the ball rolling to fund the repair of the statue.  “This statue highlights the wonderful connection which Ipswich is lucky enough to share with the famed Henry Lawson and this senseless vandalism is an attack on the community itself. 
“It is a shocking act of meaningless destruction.   “We hope our contribution will assist council and ensure that the Babies of Walloon statue can soon be returned to its rightful place in Henry Lawson Bicentennial Park.  “We have enjoyed being part of the Ipswich Poetry Feast and look forward to continuing to work with the Ipswich Library and Information Service and council on this wonderful program.”
Cr Pahlke said Ipswich was immensely proud of its link to Lawson. “There are not many communities in Australia that can lay claim to a poem by the literary icon.”  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.”
Council has offered a $4000 reward to anyone who provides information leading to the conviction of the person or people responsible for the vandalism and theft of the Babies of Walloon statue.  Anyone with information on the theft and vandalism of the statue should contact the police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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